In a move that pits Facebook against Twitter and YouTube in the battle for livestreaming supremacy, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced his company is opening Facebook Live up to everyday users.
Facebook launched its livestreaming platform last August, but originally restricted use of Facebook Live to a handful of elite users. Until now, only celebrities and a select set of users with verified accounts were able to access the network’s livestreaming capabilities. But as of January 28, all iOS mobile users can now livestream directly from their Facebook app. An Android update is expected to follow shortly.
With the update, iOS users can now livestream directly from the main Facebook dashboard, where a livestream icon has been added to the “Post” feature. After tapping the icon, users have the chance to enter a description of their stream and to tag friends using hashtags before beginning the stream itself. When the stream is finished, users are given the option of saving or deleting the stream. When saved, the post remains on the user’s wall, with a recording of the livestream in its entirety.
For many social media experts, Facebook’s entry into mass market livestreaming is long overdue. The popularity of mobile livestreaming sparked in 2014, when a set of mobile apps and websites – such as Periscope, Meerkat, and Twitch – gave users the ability to broadcast live footage.
Since then, Periscope has been acquired by Twitter, where the app has proved a popular addition to the platform. Meanwhile, YouTube – the undisputed titan of online video content – has quickly developed a wide base of livestreaming users. With the expansion of Facebook Live, Zuckerberg’s company has positioned itself to take on both Twitter and YouTube for the livestreaming title.
One advantage held by Facebook Live? It’s built directly into Facebook’s main app. Unlike Periscope and Meerkat, mobile users with Facebook already installed won’t need to download an extra app just to livestream.
The biggest obstacle for Facebook will be attracting big names to the platform. When it comes to livestreaming, celebrity users are essential to a platform’s success. That means Facebook Live will likely live or die at the fingertips of the world’s Kardashians, Beckhams, and Swifts.
But with over 100 million hours of video content already watched through Facebook each day, Zuckerberg and co. have reason to feel confident.
As with all new Facebook features, companies are already excited by the real-time customer interaction that Facebook Live will offer to their business. With possible uses like live video Q&A’s, behind-the-scenes features, and product demonstrations, to name just a few, many businesses already see Facebook Live as a fresh gateway to the network’s 1.5 billion users.