Why 2016 will be the year of live streaming


Live streaming is nothing new. Amateur bedroom radio shows have been transmitted over ropey internet connections since the early 1990s. But the start of 2015 saw the introduction of a new, interactive and highly engaging form of broadcasting – mobile live streaming.

For now, there are a handful of players in this emerging market: Meerkat, YouNow, Facebook, and most notably Periscope, Twitter‘s latest acquisition.

Just four months after its release, Periscope had acquired over 10 million users, who collectively watched on average 40 years’ worth of broadcasts every day.

The app enables users to broadcast live video from an Android or Apple iOS device, sharing it with millions across the world whilst allowing viewers to comment and interact in real time.

It’s this live interaction coupled with ease of use and zero start up cost that has now made live streaming accessible and appealing for so many.

So how will it be used in 2016?

Breaking news

Apps like Periscope are the television channels sitting in your pocket right now, ready for you to go live and garner a worldwide audience at the touch of a button.

Anyone and everyone now have the ability and tools to be a citizen journalist and to break news to the rest of the world.

In 2016, we’ll see first hand breaking news feeds on Periscope, many minutes before traditional TV has even heard about a story, let alone the additional time needed to then send a crew to the area.

We’ve already seen this come to life in the latter parts of 2015 with #ParisAttacks and the New Years Eve Address Hotel fire in Dubai. Some of the first footage of both of these events came from Periscope and saw viewing figures in the hundreds of thousands.

Hyper reality and its stars

Many mobile live streaming apps allow the audience to interact and comment with both the broadcaster and other viewers who are watching live. From a 17-year-old boy sitting in his bedroom talking about his first kiss, to the beautiful sight of the sun setting across London’s skyline, people across the world share their feelings and views about what they are watching.

This real time conversation creates a highly powerful and extremely engaged community. Some broadcasters will pull out their smartphones and hit the start broadcast button multiple times a day.

Each time they do, their fans come rushing in to get the latest fix. Dare I say it… it’s like a hyper reality version of the Kardashians, and Periscope is certainly creating a new batch of ‘stars’.

These stars connect with their audiences every day and have built up a large amount of trust with their followers. They hold huge influence over their followers’ purchasing decisions, and when matched with the right brands, their ability to drive sales is unbeatable. 84% of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family above all other sources of advertising. These online stars are seen as friends and family by many of their fans, and they have more influence over people’s purchasing decisions than any advertising campaign ever could.

In 2016, we’re likely to see many brands try live streaming on their own accounts, but the smart brands will be the ones who also look to work and collaborate with live streaming influencers in creative ways.

Brands will try their hand at live streaming

In 2015 we saw a handful of brands embrace live streaming and even fewer use it in a creative way that would entice viewers to watch. Royal Caribbean used Periscope (and its influencers) to engage a younger demographic with cruises, BMW and Mercedes both launched new cars on the medium, and 2016 will certainly see many more brands experimenting with the technology.

However, the ones who will be successful will be those who create truly interactive and creative concepts rather than using it as another platform to shove a product down people’s throats.

This isn’t traditional advertising, and it’s not even traditional one way broadcasting, it’s a two way conversation and brands need to remember that when creating campaigns around this medium.

If you want to read more, try my tips for how brands can use Periscope and other mobile live streaming platforms.

About Author

Alexander Pettitt

Alexander Pettitt is associate head of live and social at John Brown Media.

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