As soon as you enter the social world, so far as step a foot into its webby net, you can feel the shadow of giants quickly creep up on your shoulder. And you don’t have to turn your head so much as an inch to know their familiar faces – faces belonging to that of Twitter and Facebook.
Such was the feeling for Ben Rubin. Ben spent a year and a half working on his video startup, Yevvo, before deciding to pull the plug in December 2013. At the time, his creative concept of sharing live video with friends was plagued with useless features such as location tagging, text comments, and a slew of login options.
It wasn’t until 2015’s South by Southwest event did its replacement debut – a clean and simple iOS app for broadcasting live video on your twitter feed. With the only options of stream now or schedule for later, the newly titled app, Meerkat, hit twitter hard. Within its first week, Meerkat acquired 28,000 users with a third watching at least 2 hours of video per day.
When The Verge asked Rubin why he thought Meerkat took off, he managed to pin this answer:
“Spontaneous togetherness”. “It sounds like the most cliché, cheesy thing ever. But that’s what it is!”
Despite how cheesy Rubin may have found it, there is a lot of truth behind it.
Have you ever pulled up at a stoplight only to find the car next to you playing the same tune? In an energized moment of surprise and excitement, you straighten up, turn up the volume, and begin to nod your head just a little too hard.
FINALLY, you tell yourself. Someone who loves Taylor Swift as much as you do!
We all understand there are others out there riding the same radio frequency as us, but there’s a strong connection formed when we experience it live. There’s an instance of “spontaneous togetherness.”
However, the reality is that we can’t be everywhere all the time.
So when an in-person experience is not possible, live video becomes everything.
Unfortunately for Meerkat, it is now being pushed back against the ropes as larger social players enter the ring.
Twitter’s stand-alone live video app, Periscope, hit a big milestone on August 10th. The company, which allows users to tweet links of live streams to other users, reached 10 million total accounts on iOS and Android – with 2 million daily users.
What makes this all the more impressive is that CEO Kayvon Beykpour’s golden egg was hatched by Twitter only 4 months ago.
Since then, Periscope’s user growth has been astounding. But the metric that really knocked Beykpour back is the total volume of live content being watched.
Users collectively stream 40 years’ worth of content DAILY on Periscope through iOS and Android. A figure that has yet to take web streams into account.
Principal Forrester analyst, Nate Elliott, said that the 10 million Periscope accounts means only 3% of Twitter users have downloaded the standalone app. Despite being a small percent, the growing strength of live video streaming is undeniable.
Snapchat has dominated with its feature Our Story – a collection of user snaps to create a live timeline of events and news.
And at Lollapalooza, rival Facebook rolled out Facebook Live: a live streaming feature that allows verified users, such as journalists and celebrities, to stream live video to their followers.
And to round-it-out, Instagram released an update that gives users the power to find photos and videos from events in real time.
But live video isn’t just exclusive to social media. It’s expanding across many platforms.
Canadian company UrtheCast has started to film the planet in high definition from the International Space Station (ISS) in an Earth Observation (EO) effort. Their high-resolution camera, Iris, provides a real time feed in color with an amazing resolution at 1 meter. And with a venture of creating an interactive, publicly accessible EO stage, UrtheCast looks to deploy a constellation of 16 satellites by 2020 to gather live geospatial data.
And Chicago based tech company, ReaLync, is taking live streaming into the real estate space to simplify and enhance how agents and clients connect to tour real estate. In an antiquated industry where the average buyer physically tours 10+ properties in person before buying/renting or calling it quits, ReaLync has provided a new way to truly experience a space without the physical constraints.
But live video is just a drop in the bucket.
The consumer video segment includes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon video, uploads to YouTube, broadcast companies, and live streams. Cisco System’s Inc. published a study on February 3rd 2015 showing that 80% of all Internet traffic will be driven by consumer video by 2019.
It is clear that video is developing into the most meaningful engaging medium.
Unlike photos, blogs, vlogs, and a slew of other media representations, live video lets you experience the world around you in real time. It provides an instant ride in the fast lane. And in 2015’s constantly evolving digital environment, that on demand, real time culture will only continue to penetrate even further into our everyday lives.
Until next time…Keep it Real!