Periscope, a live streaming app now part of Twitter, will continue to exist as a separate app accessible through the micro-blogging platform. But do people want to live stream?
Although it already owns Periscope, Twitter is now bringing that live streaming functionality into its main app. Live video will be made available for mobile users soon, both on iOS and Android, with the company billing it as, “the most immersive way to experience what’s happening around the world.”
Users can compose a tweet and have the option of making it #GoLive without needing to open a new window or, with the Periscope app, go to its own site. People will be able to comment and like the broadcast, as with regular tweets.
Live video is something people still really care about, but it’s becoming more and more specialized across services. One of the big issues, as Geektime has previously reported, is that it’s still dominated by celebrities and influencers, for whom interest can be fickle. People are increasingly using it for niche purposes.
There have been some noteworthy shifts in the industry in this direction. Meerkat began as a live streaming video service, but interest waned due to the near-simultaneous launch of competing Twitter and Facebook options. (Earlier this year, Facebook introduced its own live service for mobile users.) Anticipating that, the company began thinking of new ways to reach people.
So, in secret, they have since pivoted away from live video to produce Houseparty, a group video chat that hosts a “room” of up to eight people at a time. The live stream component is deemphasized in favor of having private conversations people can come and go to. “We’re just trying to bring you closer to your real-life network, not something that’s like vying for likes or hearts or followers,” Co-Founder and COO of Houseparty Sima Sistani told Fast Company.
Meanwhile, Justin.TV, the now-defunct live streaming parent of Twitch, completely pivoted from general interest channels to Twitch for gaming, as that was where the real interest was. Twitch now faces competition from other platforms, like YouTube, but still retains its powerhouse standing for gaming.
— Twitter (@twitter) December 14, 2016
Twitter has an advantage that it’s still seen as the best platform for citizen journalism, and its acquisition of Periscope last year reinforced that. During the summer unrest in Turkey, for instance, Periscope was, alongside Facebook Live, a go-to app for keeping track of events. Downloads of it increased both during and in the aftermath of those events, and even before then it was extremely popular in Turkey because of how it could get around the censors. With the live option, it’s now possible for citizen journalists who don’t have the separate Periscope app to do the same.
Although the live stream function is being rolled out for any manner of use, Twitter is hoping for niche interest as well, with arrangements to carry entertainment, live news, and sports content on its streams, which the company already has made apps for, including Apple TV and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
The biggest problem, one that Meerkat faced and, according to The Verge, even Facebook is reckoning with, is retaining interest. Meerkat found that people were just not making regular use of the app, in contrast to Houseparty with its more intimate peer-to-peer setting. People may obsessively post to Instagram and write out tweet storms, but putting the video angle in will take some adjusting too, as not everyone will want to add their actual voice and face in.