The Future of Apps Lies Within Live Streaming


If you listen closely, you can hear the rumble. It is distant now, but very soon it will immediately draw your attention and you won’t be able to focus on anything else for a while. Then, the rumble will become a roar and it will be the only thing.

This rumble and roar is live content. It is coming to your screens on Twitter, Facebook and whatever the near future of social media is. Live, linear content only happens once, unfolding before our eyes, in the moment and is generally something that must be immediately viewed, given its nature. The roar is the three point shot in the March Madness game, sealing the win for your team. It is also the 98 yard touchdown run on Thursday Night Football, which, if the rumors are true, may be viewable on Facebook soon. The roar is also breaking news and the latest on the tragic bombings in Brussels, or the massive house fire in the community neighboring yours. This is the content viewers cannot ignore and seek to connect with as it happens.  

Social media continues to evolve as a primary source of news and information for millions worldwide. On Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, millions of users turn to their apps for up to the second information -- whether it’s from an established brand or their network of social connections. The information in-feed never stops, and users feel the near constant need to pick up their device and check the app to drink from the proverbial fire hose of information and data.  

Media brands, programmers, and networks realize that social networks are table stakes for them. While they may create and offer compelling content via traditional means, they too realize that some of their audience is shifting and that new, prospective viewers are both reachable via new platforms (smartphones, tablets, connected devices) that they must embrace. For them, social networks are a new, must-have source of sustenance (and viewers).

Video drives engagement -- both in and of itself (if compelling and well produced) and in the things it lives in and around.  Engagement is like oxygen to today’s social networks. They strive every second to sign on new members and keep their existing flock happy and engaged with content on their network.  Video is a catalyst for this and a key component to their strategies.

So both the social networks and those creating the content know they need each other -- witness the endless supply of video clips that live in your Twitter and Facebook feeds today.  Whether it is a clip from last night’s ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ or the car chase that didn’t end well for the driver offered by your local three-letter network affiliate -- video has become a frequent resident of nearly everyone’s social feed.  

Make no mistake, video is becoming a massive player in social media - and live content looks to drive engagement and could serve as the primary viewing location for an entirely new generation of viewers. Think about it -- today’s 15-year-old high school sports athlete and fan really has no reason to watch SportsCenter on ESPN to catch the highlights of the day. Still, they are still a strong, recognizable brand to this particular viewer. What if he or she could watch SportsCenter live in-feed on Facebook or Twitter? That is real brand extension, and bringing your brand, content and flavor directly to the viewer on a non-traditional viewing platform. Similarly, if that athlete’s parent is watching their performance in the high school gym on a Thursday night, but would really like to keep up with the Thursday Night NFL game and could do so via Twitter, would users engage with and watch the games on their handsets? Many are betting they will -- en masse.

Adding high value content from the NFL or any similar entity to their stockpile of content is smart chess play by Facebook and Twitter. Sure, the license fees aren’t anything to sneeze at, but with real time dynamic ad insertion (DAI) in play and working at scale, these networks can license these rights and likely break even if not generate revenue.

High value sports and live news aren’t the only frontiers in this new space though. As election season rolls on, look for more live feeds on both networks from local and national news organizations, again seeking to connect with audiences in the moment, wherever they are. Want to see a live stream of Dwayne Johnson on the red carpet at the premiere of HBO’s ‘Ballers’? Check. Or maybe a behind the scenes look with him on set as he shoots the show? Check. Look for these examples and more to play out in the months ahead. The rumble is becoming a roar, faster than you think.

Matt Smith is Chief Evangelist for Anvato -- the leading, turnkey platform solution that enables media companies, content providers and broadcasters with a robust, powerful and complete toolset to enable their content to reach any screen, anytime. Prior to Anvato, Matt was Vice President, Technology for Chideo; Vice President, Internet Television at Envivio; Architect at Cisco Systems; and Vice President and Chief Systems Architect at Inlet Technologies. Prior to Inlet, Smith served as a key video architect and evangelist for Yahoo!, and spent several years at NBC, first at the affiliate level and later with the network.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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