Meerkat, Periscope leap to forefront of attention in live-streaming's growth

Live-streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope are helping drive an incremental shift in audiences' attention toward user-generated live-streaming, something Twitch jump-started and that social media may push forward.

An article in The Wall Street Journal pointed out that a chaotic fire in New York City's East Village recently was live-streamed to Twitter followers via a newly-released app called Periscope that directly competes with month-old live-streaming app Meerkat.

Meerkat, a darling of the recent SXSW show in Austin, was blocked from Twitter just over two weeks ago. Periscope was acquired by Twitter shortly before its launch--which explained the Meerkat ban.

In any case, the addition of short video upload capabilities to Twitter and its integration of Periscope's live-streaming technology are changing once again the definition of immediacy in the social media world.

But back to the New York building fire and collapse, where "unlike past news events that have gripped the social-media world, the eyewitness accounts this time were largely coming from live video feeds, thrusting viewers into a chaotic scene partly filled with smoke," WSJ's Yoree Koh wrote.

Another tech publication, engadget, sees the pending rivalry between Meerkat and Twitter's Periscope as a leap forward for the social video segment. "The age of ubiquitous livestreaming is upon us," wrote engadget's Nicole Lee, who was impressed by Periscope, noting that it was in some ways better than its competitor--a factor that, along with its pride of place on Twitter, could push it rapidly ahead of the first-to-market Meerkat.

With attention and reviews like the above, live-streaming apps tied into social media platforms have the potential to take over the mobile video streaming landscape, at least in popularity. But what does that mean for the mobile ecosystem?

The growth of online video streaming is already a concern. A Cisco report released in February said that global mobile data traffic skyrocketed 69 percent in 2014, averaging 2.5 exabytes per month by the end of the year. Mobile video traffic took up 55 percent of that data traffic.

Smartphones, the most popular device on which to view online video, saw usage grow 45 percent worldwide in 2014, the report said. Users averaged about 819 MB per month of data traffic, compared to 563 MB per month the year previous.

With mobile video expected to drive overall traffic as high as 24.3 exabytes by 2019, wireless carriers are scrambling to catch up with demand by improving Wi-Fi offloading, maintaining backhaul deals and investing in technologies like small cells.

AT&T's John Donovan, senior executive vice president technology and operations, told investors at a conference in January that the wireless carrier is ready for the mobile data onslaught. "We're world class now at knowing what our need is going to be," he said, explaining that the network could handle increased video streaming regardless of where it was coming from, be it YouTube or FaceTime.

For more:
- WSJ has this story
- engadget has this story
- see this Cisco report

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