How Facebook Live and Periscope stack up in early live 360 streaming

Facebook Live appears to be going after users looking for a premium live 360 viewing experience. Image: Facebook

Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope are two of the leading names in the growing livestreaming market, and both services added 360 live video streaming in December.

Of course, for the sake of differentiation or possibly just due to varying development cycles, the two services’ early live 360 offerings featured advantages and disadvantages over one another. Here’s a quick look at how Facebook Live’s and Periscope’s live 360 streaming stack up against one another.

Audience

Facebook Live, at least in the early going, appears to be going after users looking for a premium live 360 viewing experience—a point we’ll touch on again when we look at device compatibility.

Upon announcing its live 360 feature in early December last year, Facebook’s initial partner was National Geographic, which helped produce a video of the Mars Desert Research Station facility in Utah. Besides allowing viewers to explore the simulated Mars environment, the broadcast included a Q&A with science experts and writers. It’s a rather high-concept kickoff for the feature and could signal Facebook’s intent to pursue other partners to produce similarly outlandish content for the platform, a move that could be designed to lure to users.

Periscope has begun its live 360 streaming availability by allowing some of its most popular users to trial the technology. In an early example of the service, Periscope broadcaster Alex Pettitt created a seemingly off-the-cuff live 360 video to essentially describe how the technology differed from traditional mobile streaming and to show off a sunset in Florida.

By giving the technology first to Periscope users and letting them use it in much the same way they do when creating standard Periscope streams, Twitter could be going its already built-in audience and possibly increasing daily users, which as of 2015, stood at 2 million out of 10 million total Periscope users.

Device compatibility

According to TechCrunch, Facebook recommended using the Nokia Ozo or Freedom360 Broadcaster rig with Vahana VR for “high quality experiences,” or the Giroptic iO, Insta360 Nano or Ricoh Theta S for “less produced moments.” The recommendation of the Nokia Ozo again seemed to tie into Facebook’s apparent wish for live 360 to be a premium experience on its platform—unless, of course, Facebook is under the impression that casual livestreamers are looking to shell out $45,000 for a 360 camera. But Facebook Live also apparently works with less expensive 360 cameras like the Ricoh Theta S (retailing around $300) so the company is clearly aware it doesn’t want to completely discourage casual use of the live 360 feature.

Periscope, for now, supports native integration with the Insta360 Nano camera. But the service said it will allow users to experiment with connecting other 360 cameras via Periscope Producer, which allows for the broadcast of external sources into Twitter and Periscope.

In order to do so, Periscope users must fill out a request form with their account information and information about what hardware/software encoder they plan to use. But in the meantime, support for the Insta360 Nano—which retails for a relatively cheap $200 and clips onto a mobile device—should make for a fairly low cost of entry into Periscope livestreaming.

Both services enable viewing of live 360 videos on the web and on Android or iOS, while also allowing for livestreaming from both Android and iOS devices.

Availability

Facebook Live has been slightly more opaque than Periscope in terms of when its live 360 feature will gain wider availability. According to Facebook, live 360 video will be available to more Pages via the Live API in the coming months, and will become “more broadly” available for all Pages and Profiles in 2017.

Periscope, which announced live 360 on Dec. 28, said the feature will also be more broadly available, but within the coming weeks. For right now, Periscope is having users sign up for a waitlist.

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