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Live Streaming: The New Social Media Frontier That Facebook, YouTube, Twitter Are Scrambling On To

Living in the moment.

10/02/2017 11:18 AM IST | Updated 10/02/2017 4:36 PM IST
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One day last December, Amitabh Bachchan started a live video from his house on his Facebook page and thousands of fans poured in to watch once they received a notification on their apps. The superstar showed Facebook viewers around his office and briefly talked about the pictures hanging on the walls, while watching people's reaction on his mobile phone in real time. It was a new experience for him and Bachchan handled it with his usual aplomb. The interaction was part of Facebook's push to promote live-video streaming on its platform.

Looks like, Facebook and every other social network now want their users to live in the moment — they are embracing live video streaming in a big way. Yesterday, Facebook announced that it is opening a new room called 'Bandstand' in its Mumbai office where artists and media persons can come in and hold a Facebook Live session.

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The world's number one social network had announced back in January 2016 that almost 100 million hours of video was being watched every day. Later, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also remarked that Facebook was trying to introduce new ways to earn revenue from video streaming. As part of that effort it is currently experimenting with inserting ads in the middle of a video in the US. One can expect the feature to come to India soon.

Meanwhile, YouTube has rolled out the live-stream feature from smartphones for users who have more than 10,000 subscribers on their channels. At a later stage, the company plans to roll it out for all users. To monetise live streaming, in addition to the ads, YouTube is also allowing users to purchase access to premium comments that stay on top of the comment thread making it more likely for the creator to take notice.

YouTube had originally launched the live streaming service in 2011, but it began experimenting with mobile streaming only recently. Last year, it provided live streaming access to a few select content creators including the popular Indian comedy troupe AIB. While the company is working on making original content to compete with video services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, live streaming will put YouTube in direct competition with Facebook.

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Google has been known to do live casts of events, speeches, and podcasts including streams for the Indian government but Facebook has yet to venture into that territory. The social network's focus right now is to get more people on the feed to see and use live videos. And its strategy is to spread the word by making more celebrities take part on Facebook Live. Last year film celebrities such as Kajol, Shah Rukh Khan, and Sonakshi Sinha; politicians such as Arvind Kejriwal; and the news channel Aaj Tak were featured on Facebook Live.

The third substantial player in the category is Twitter. While the microblogging website's user base is smaller, it ventured into the live video category with the acquisition of Periscope in 2015. Since then, Twitter has featured many curated streams around the app. Now, it has also integrated the service into the native Twitter app so that users can go live anytime.

Similar to Facebook's 'Bandstand' initiative, Twitter India introduced #Blueroom in 2016 where artists can go live on the social network. The Blueroom featured musicians such as Penn Masala and Prateek Kuhad. Twitter is also partnering with organisers of sporting events such as Olympics to feature live video clips on its platform.

While YouTube's push is for creator's content and original content, Facebook is concentrating on shorter length videos being streamed live. Facebook-owned Instagram has rolled out its own version of the live video.

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