The stars appear to be aligning for the mobile live streaming industry, as both Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) YouTube announced expanded capabilities for their respective apps, making live streaming more accessible and more directly competitive with Twitter-owned Periscope.
Facebook announced at VidCon that it will enable Facebook Live broadcasters to pre-schedule their streams and create a "virtual waiting room" for viewers who want to see the broadcast, TechCrunch reported. Additionally, users can live-stream using MSQRD face masks (a gimmicky feature added to Facebook when it acquired the video filtering app earlier this year). Perhaps most significantly, and available first, is the ability to do two-person, remote broadcasts – meaning users can stream a single broadcast from two different locations.
The two-person broadcast feature will go live later this summer, Facebook said.
Meerkat was the first mobile live streaming app to allow these type of "drop in," two-person broadcasts with its "Cameo" feature – as well as stream scheduling, viewer polls and the ability to publish to one's Facebook feed – but the pioneering startup has since pivoted away from live streaming and its app is operating in "mostly-dead" mode.
YouTube, in the meantime, announced at VidCon that it will bake its live streaming technology "right into the core YouTube mobile app," VentureBeat reported. The top streaming service's live streaming element was previously limited to users with verified channels and could only be accessed through its Creator Studio.
"Because it's built right into the YouTube app, mobile live streaming will have all the features your regular videos have – you'll be able to search for them, find them through recommendations and playlists and protect them from unauthorized uses," said Kurt Wilms, product lead of Immersive Experiences, in a post on YouTube's Creator blog.
In tandem with Youtube's announcement, the new mobile live streaming element launched in a limited release, with a few top channels using the service. These include The Young Turks, an online news show, and humor and lifestyle channels AIB, Platica Polinesia, SacconeJolys and Alex Wassabi. The feature will roll out "more widely soon," although YouTube didn't specify a date.
The simultaneous announcements at VidCon – a fast-growing tradeshow targeting individual creators who use services like YouTube, Vimeo and Periscope to reach audiences – showed that mobile live streaming has quickly shifted from cool side feature to a mainstream requirement in today's environment, where always-connected viewers demand constant, fresh content.
That is similarly apparent in the deals that are being made throughout the OTT industry. For example, Snapchat recently scored a mobile streaming deal with NBC Sports that will enable the social media app to repackage and rebroadcast highlights and interviews from the Summer Olympics in Rio this August. And Twitter nabbed a historic NFL contract to stream 10 of the league's regular-season football games this fall.
Most recently, the industry saw a prime example of streaming apps' potential to democratize news and events, when U.S. Democratic representatives staged a 25-hour sit-in on the House floor. With TV cameras turned off, congressmen used Periscope and Facebook Live to broadcast the event.
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