13 April 2016

re/code: “The Live Video Obsession”

The big challenge with live video is that it requires the serendipitous pairing in real time of a broadcaster with something to show and an audience that’s ready and interested in what’s being shown. Unlike the more typical asynchronous video we’re used to seeing online, to be really effective, live video needs to be consumed in the moment. I suspect that’s a big reason why these various companies are investing in live video — it gives people a reason to tune in at times when they might not normally think of checking in on that particular social network or app. But people’s actual ability to do so will continue to be limited by the realities of daily life. In addition, there just isn’t that much compelling in people’s everyday lives to be of interest as a live video. Most events can either be captured and shared non-live or broadcast live to a single other party — showing grandma the baby’s first steps, for example.

Jan Dawson

A valid point, and something I noticed myself recently. In my case I found what I thought it should make an interesting video hangout, but scheduled for later in the day. Too lazy to do time zone conversion to know exactly when it will start, I visited the page a couple of times during the day, only to be greeted each time by a message saying the hangout will start soon. I quickly got frustrated and gave up on the hangout.

From what I can tell, Live Videos are available for replay later, which is good for creators (more reach over time) and for viewers (who can catch up at their own leisure) – but if after the live broadcast Live Videos simply turn into regular videos, what exactly is the differentiation of the feature? It may become a great addition to Facebook’s virtual reality strategy at some point, but for not it feels underwhelming.

Update: Facebook itself is ambiguous about what ‘live’ actually means on the platform. Confused yet?

A Facebook spokesman said the social network doesn’t have policies stating that video streamed via Facebook Live actually has to be recorded live. The company does not recommend streaming pre-recorded content, the spokesman added, because a strength of the feature is the ability for on-camera hosts to interact with viewers in real time.

Jack Marshall & Steven Perlberg

Another challenge for live video, I think, is quality: the camera (I presume you need to use the mobile Facebook app to stream live) and network speed will limit video quality, so that the result will have a hard time competing with non-live video content, carefully shot and edited before being shared with the world. Just take a look at the two examples below and ask yourself: which one do I want to watch?

Not long after the feature was launched, Live Video is already present in my feed, with a new notification as well
A non-live video from YouTube: "Landscape Photography Vlog: Northern Lights, Sunset, Sunrise & None Wildlife"

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