In December 2016, Twitter launched its live streaming feature, a move it had long been contemplating. Twitter has always been a nimble platform, debatably more so than its social media counterparts. It was important for the network to introduce a live feature that could make communication even swifter, eliminating the lag between broadcasters and viewers. In a statement that Twitter released on its blog on the day of the launch, the company encapsulated its objective well.
“Live video is the most immersive way to experience what’s happening around the world. From protests and monumental moments to celebrations and things that make us LOL, we’re making it easier for you to broadcast live video – straight from Twitter,” it stated. It was all so simple.
The Launch of Twitter Live
Twitter’s live streaming platform was born much before Twitter knew it. It started off as Periscope, a live streaming app developed by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein in 2013. The pair was inspired to create a live streaming service when they were stranded in Istanbul, following protests in Taksim Square. When they logged into Twitter, they found that though there was a steady stream of tweets being posted, there was no way to witness the protests visually. Little did they know that life would come full circle for them, for in January 2015, Periscope was acquired by Twitter even before Beykpour and Bernstein had gone live with their platform. In December 2016, select features from Periscope were added to the Twitter interface, allowing Twitter users to broadcast live.
Twitter’s story isn’t unique. Very often, a business who wants to add live streaming to its platform doesn’t have the wherewithal to develop superior technology in-house. Extend that philosophy to smaller businesses and you’ll see a bouquet of solutions. Streamhash, for example, is the Periscope of small and medium enterprises. All a company needs to do is buy the reasonably-priced framework, and plug it into their website. Streamhash gets you started within just a couple of days, a huge plus for businesses that are hustling to capture digital mindshare.
The Addition of 360-Degree Live Streaming
It’s a competitive landscape out there for social media players, each one trying to outwit another. Not long after the acquisition of Periscope, Twitter added another feather to its cap: 360-degree live streaming via Periscope. The feature allows just about anyone to view a 360-degree video, using their fingers to swivel around a video landscape. The broadcasting of 360-degree videos is restricted to a select set of partners for the time being. However, Twitter might open the feature to all users soon, considering the rate at which live video content is being consumed on other networks like Facebook. The viewing of 360-degree videos is available for all users.
Twitter’s Live Streaming Business Model
In a strategy geared towards effective penetration, Twitter didn’t start with a monetization model in place when it launched Periscope. Live broadcasts were free for broadcasters and viewers. Now, two years since the inception of Periscope, Twitter has taken its first step towards monetization, by introducing ads on its live streaming platform.
To begin with, the company plans on introducing pre-roll ads for both live and recorded videos. The move looks promising for Twitter, who will benefit from the untapped potential of large broadcasters on Periscope. Twitter’s inbuilt advertising feature has seen a downslide in the past few years, and monetising Periscope seems to be an ideal strategy to offset the decline in advertising revenues. The icing on the cake, however, is that video advertising rates trump those of other formats. This May, the company plans to pitch its video advertising feature at an event called NewFronts, a forum that brings digital media companies together. Twitter’s monetization strategy has been used successfully by many brands, big and small. YouTube, for instance, has proved time and again, that ads are a great commercialisation technique. But this approach isn’t limited to large brands. Even small brands who set up a live streaming interface with a platform like Streamhash, can profit from pre-roll advertising, leaving users to enjoy content for free.
Flexibility for Users
Twitter senses the risk of making such a big move. As an initial acid test, the company plans to run ads before only popular live videos, including sports games and fashion shows. Twitter plans to induct potential advertisers into a program called Amplify which will team them with large live video broadcasters. Twitter also intends to add an option for users to be able to skip longer ads, to ease them into an advertising ecosystem.
The Evolution of Twitter Live
Twitter is opening its doors to media firms, by allowing them to post live streams directly onto the platform. It plans to do this by opening its Application Programming Interface (API) to these firms, in turn, allowing broadcast firms to connect to its live software, instantly. It will also give these companies valuable information about its collaborations with firms that underpin its backend services for live streaming.
In the past, media firms have typically been expected to establish partnerships and frame elaborate plans before going live on Periscope. With this new move, however, these firms can broadcast content without any prior partnerships or collaborations.
The Technology Behind Periscope
Periscope is a deftly crafted platform from various threads of technology. Essentially comprising Wowza Media Systems for streaming, PubNub for the chatroom and Algoria for the search and index options, Periscope’s technology stack is ever-evolving as the brand adds more features to its kitty. Smaller platforms like Streamhash parallel Periscope in many ways. For example, Streamhash uses the Wowza Streaming Engine to support its streams, the same technology employed by Periscope, giving users the same superior experience employed by big-ticket streaming services. Plus, with its array of inbuilt features, small business owners can transform their interface quickly and easily, even without prior technical knowledge.
As live streaming sees traction across industries, it is becoming an increasingly necessary centerpiece for many businesses to draw users and generate revenue. Now, make it yours.