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Mar 31

The State And Future Of Live Video and the Rise of Real-Time Creators And Audiences – Forbes

 

Livestreaming is setting the stage for yet another breed of creator. From scripted or episodic content to serendipity and impromptu engagement, new communities are forming around the personal brands who bring them together in the moment. The new Hollywood continues to evolve with next-gen studios recruiting up-and-coming talent to monetize in digital and also traditional formats. At the same time,  brands and agencies are expanding influencer marketing efforts to partner with popular livestreaming personalities in addition to the ever-growing roster of social media influencers.

Digital influence has never been more profound. Now more than ever, entertainment executives and even brand strategists must look beyond the legacy perspectives that defined yesterday’s “celebrity” and entertainment deals. Doing so, will only foster more engaging and lucrative deals between creator, audience and even brands while expanding the landscape for entertaining (and monetizable) content.

Image Credit: Facebook Mentions

YouTube No Longer Holds The Monopoly On Video Influencers And Creators

By now you’ve heard that Disney is partnering with top YouTube video personality and gamer PewDiePie his own TV network. I’m sure you’ve also heard the recent news hat YouTube phenom Miranda Sings was signed by Netflix for a new series “Haters Back Off.” Over the past decade, Youtube has been an entertainment boon for Hollywood discovering new talent with built-in audiences for movies, TV or music. But the golden age of YouTube may be losing a bit of its luster in the wake of increased competition. From the glut of short-form episodic content in apps such as Snapchat, Twitter-owned Vine and Facebook’s Instagram to the rising wave of mobile live streaming apps including Twitter’s Periscope, YouNow and Meerkat, YouTube has to share the spotlight for a rapidly growing and splintering base of online and mobile viewers.

PewDiePie (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Over the years, YouTube has largely held the monopoly on transforming online personalities into bona fide celebrities. With the company’s recent push for Red, YouTube is hoping to drive ad-free paid subscriptions with YouTubers. However, it is literally a deal that popular creators can’t refuse. If they do, YouTube will pull their free content from the site. While not the most tactful of approaches, YouTube seeks to diversify revenue in a game that it dominates while increasing opportunities for creators and their fans. However, YouTube faces other challenges and challengers on several concurrent fronts. As audiences get younger and more mobile, every new popular app seems to further dilute the network’s stronghold on connecting new talent, advertisers and online audiences.

The Rise of Livestreaming

Live video seems to be the next frontier, even though the category has struggled to gain mass popularity over the years. In 2011, YouTube debuted a live video service with a dedicated gamer streaming service launching in 2015. And, YouTube is rumored to be readying YouTube Connect, a new livestreaming app. Facebook too is jumping in with both feet investing in episodic content and talented creators while also rolling out a livestreaming service of its own. Whereas YouTube and Facebook aren’t home runs in the live video space as of yet, livestreaming is steadily finding its way to consumer screens everywhere.

In the last couple of years alone, livestreaming has gained serious momentum. But, it didn’t happen over night. Justin.tv and USTREAM, for example, popularized livestreaming back in 2007, creating dedicated entire networks for anyone to broadcast their life live at any moment.  Though Justin.tv eventually shut down, the founders channeled all their work and technology into developing Twitch, a popular livestreaming network that let gamers livecast their play. It quickly caught the attention of Amazon, which acquired Twitch in 2014 for $970 million. In January 2016, IBM acquiredUSTREAM for $130 million to build out its cloud video services.

The State Of Livestreaming

Now an entirely new breed of livestreaming apps is gaining in popularity. With a perfect storm of mobile, simple user interfaces and a fixed feature set, apps such as Periscope, Meerkat, YouNowand Blab are turning everyday moments into the equivalent of live programming. Unlike YouTube (for now) and Facebook, single-purpose mobile apps simplify the experience for creators and viewers.

New LiveStreaming Platforms for Generation Z

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Image Credit: @BruhItsZach, YouNow

YouNow and Stre.am are a livestreaming networks most haven’t heard of, yet both are growing in popularity among younger Millennials and Centennials. On YouNow, for example, 15-year-old Zach Clayton is the most popular lifecaster on the app with over 730,000 following his account @BruhItsZach anxiously awaiting for him to go live.

While YouNow focuses solely on live video and audience engagement, Stre.am also adds the ability to share Snapchat-like Stories (called Reels) through videos and pictures for a more complete story that lasts for 36 hours.

On the other hand, YouNow promotes a different king of social engagement without relying on social gestures such as “Likes” or upvotes. Instead, YouNow debuted a social commerce platform where viewers can buy and leave YouNow bars to their favorite broadcasters in a virtual tip jar. Not quite a subscription service but notable nonetheless, top earners reportedly make up to $50,000 a year via these digital tips¾a far cry from the millions top earners make on YouTube.

Twitter’s new Periscope app is another livestreaming service quickly gaining in popularity among all ages of Twitter users. In fact, it wasnamed Apple’s app of the year in 2015. Variety also recently reported that Periscope has been used for 200 million broadcasts to date with 100 million in the last three months alone.

Periscope’s tagline is “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes.” It allows a user’s Twitter followers to get a notification when they will broadcast and once they do, followers can see whatever’s in front of the hosts lens. While it’s promoted as a voyeuristic experience, many popular Periscopers turn the camera on themselves creating a new category of “Internet famous.”

Like traditional video platforms, fans engage through comments and by sending “hearts” to show Periscopers the love in real-time. Initially, Periscope was meant to introduce live video engagement as a feature to the Twitter platform. But, Periscopers and fans believe that Periscope could be so much more. Like YouTube, Twitter can monetize playbacks with ads, promoted scopes and adrolls and drive new revenue to the shareholders and creators.

Blab is yet another take on livestreaming, facilitating live engagement similar to Periscope with Google Hangouts. Launched in 2015, the Blab app is backed by Bebo founders Michael and Xochi Birch. Essentially a Pericope or Meerkat for groups, Blab lets hosts bring up to three additional people into a group discussion at will while also engaging live commenters. Content is then stored for later view or embeddable online in other platforms such as sites and blogs.

Livestreaming Is Just Getting Started

When it comes to livestreaming, we haven’t seen anything yet. The landscape is still very young and incredibly volatile. Just one year after captivating the streams of SXSW in 2015, Meerkat abandonedits play as a livestreaming platform to focus on becoming a video social network. We’ll soon see more players, pivots, acquisitions and failures of course. But in the process, we’ll continue to witness the rise of the new Hollywood as it transitions from a minor league play to one that’s major in its own right.

While YouTube, Facebook and others are competing on multiple fronts to attract and cultivate creators and monetize popular content. Dedicated livestream apps, at the same time, will develop new market segments and fragment audiences across platforms, while changing consumer preferences and behavior in the process. As a result, viewers will become even more elusive forcing Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Madison Ave. to find new ways to partner with, acquire or more effectively compete against innovation and the markets it opens and closes.

Like YouTube and Vine, an entire cottage industry is emerging around these popular livestreaming apps to explore promotional and revenue deals beyond content. What’s clear, and wonderful, however, is that there’s never been a time when original content, fresh talent and opportunity in the video business was so democratized and DIY. It will only continue to flatten the hierarchies of entertainment.

Source: The State And Future Of Live Video and the Rise of Real-Time Creators And Audiences – Forbes

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