Media companies are ‘broadcasting’ pre-recorded clips use the social network’s new feature
Facebook Live doesn’t necessarily have to be live after all.
Despite its name, the social network’s new video tool is allowing media companies and video creators to stream pre-recorded content, leading some to wonder if they should “broadcast” every video through the feature.
Sound familiar? It’s a model that has worked for decades for TV networks, which typically air previously-taped shows on a “linear” schedule.
As Facebook ramps up its live-video efforts, some media companies wonder if airing pre-recorded content in this fashion may give it greater exposure in users’ feeds compared with simply uploading content through the social network’s non-live video posting feature.
NowThis, a news company that publishes entirely on social platforms, experimented with the option in late April, for example, streaming a 38-minute compilation of its “favorite” viral videos via Facebook Live. The stream received over 20,000 views and over 500 comments, according to Facebook’s counters.
“It’s still early days with live video on Facebook so this was a test and an experiment”, said Athan Stephanopoulos, president at NowThis. “We decided to take a bunch of viral videos and run them live. Then we were getting involved in the comments.”
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.
Mr. Stephanopoulos said NowThis is not currently planning to consistently stream pre-recorded footage, but added that his company thinks it’s important to experiment with new video features on Facebook.
The pre-recorded feature is encouraging some media companies to promote their Web series to “air” on Facebook Live at a certain time, in a similar manner to a linear television show. After they are streamed, Facebook Live videos function as normal Facebook videos. Some publishers believe videos may perform better if they begin as live ones.
“What is the downside? I can’t imagine that there is one. We will see when we try it. Facebook is prioritizing live. They are prioritizing video,” said Cory Haik, chief strategy officer at self-professed “millennial” news site Mic, which is considering uploading its Web series “The Movement” as a live video. “We would just upload that video natively anyway. It’s effectively the same thing.”
Media companies and publishers are increasingly experimenting with Facebook’s emerging live-streaming platform, which is bringing in huge viewership numbers for some. In recent weeks, the company has introduced an “API” that allows media organizations to step up their Facebook Live production value in a variety of different ways, like overlaying captions on the screen.
This week, Mic will interview Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and “roll tape” from the interview within a later live show that discusses politics, giving the show a cable news-like feel. Ms. Haik said Facebook Live allows for commenters to feel engaged with a real-time event.
Live video technology company Telestream was one of Facebook’s first live video API partners, and says it’s currently working with a range of media companies and publishers to help power their Facebook Live efforts.
Barbara DeHart, Telestream’s vice president of desktop and cloud business, said the company has not yet noticed a large amount of pre-recorded video being broadcast via Facebook Live, but added that the social network has not indicated any restrictions around what can and can’t be streamed to the feature.
“Facebook has been very forthcoming and helpful around what it thinks would be most helpful to users,” Ms. DeHart said. “At the moment that’s really been around high production value.”
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