#Asia Why has live streaming flopped so far?


The launch of Facebook Live has put the spotlight on live streaming, but so far the industry has been anything but successful

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Live streaming seemed to be all the rage: It started with Twitter acquiring the live streaming service Periscope in 2015, quickly to be followed by the extremely successful launch of Meerkat during SXSW and other live streaming services, including Facebook Live.

However, almost a year after its initial success, Meerkat’s CEO Ben Rubin recently announced that it will cease its live streaming service as we know it today and will shift their focus to become a video social network.

While the details around the new network aren’t clear yet, taking a closer look at Meerkat’s journey might give us some insights on where live streaming is going.

What happened? And what can it tell us about the industry?

So what went wrong? How can it be that an innovative and cool product like Meerkat with great publicity, funding and a ‘connected’ generation did not manage to achieve what it wanted? Why didn’t it succeed in becoming an app for the masses, a place where people stream their everyday lives in real-time with the world watching?

Ben Rubin offers his explanation in a letter he sent to his investors which later was published in the media.

His main reasons were the fierce competition from two of the biggest players in the digital space, Periscope (Twitter) and Facebook Live, and that the added value to using live streaming is still not clear yet to the mass market.

While celebrities and media personalities have adopted live streaming, most people still don’t see why they would live stream their real life for others to watch. These people don’t really know what creating a “good” live stream looks like.

He adds that only for influencers and the media the value of going live is obvious, especially when it comes to live streaming events that will attract a big audience. But this pool of digital celebrities is too small to make it an app for the masses, what Meerkat had intended to be.

In the end it boils down to the hard fact that with a limited pool of engaged users and fierce competition, it is extremely difficult to be a scalable and sustainable product.

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The question is whether it is a simple matter of scalability for any company in the long run, or that live streaming is just not something that’s meant for the masses? Maybe watching random, non glamorous or scandalous people is just not interesting enough for a generation that enjoys reality TV, ISIS beheadings and Kim Kardashian?

Why some might have a better chance

So Meerkat couldn’t make it, but there might be some others who can. If we would go by Rubin’s reasoning, it is likely that we would get better results from bigger companies with larger audiences such as Facebook.

As Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have described, live streaming is one of the key features they are focused on and excited about.

Since people are already familiar with these big platforms, the transition to the new technology is much smoother and easier. It is just adding another feature to its platform, rather than being a totally new app that users both have to get to know and use sufficiently for it to be something worthwhile.

A “new” interesting player to watch is going to be YouTube, which didn’t want to be left behind the other players. According to VentureBeat, Google is supposedly working on their own live streaming standalone app called YouTube Connect to target a large base of big influencer communities.

However, companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube don’t just have better chances of succeeding because they are big and well known companies with deep pockets: Their success lies in the fact that they are based on existing communities.

Periscope didn’t have to create a new community of people because they already had communities of people and influencers on Twitter to build from. These influencers such as celebrities, presidential candidates and digital creators are more than happy to take the service and use it to their advantage.

You can see the success of live streaming with apps and platforms that are also tapping into celebrity and influencer communities such as YouNow, Streamup and Crave.

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These all have one thing in common: They facilitate a space where influencers can meet their community through live video. Not only do these celebrities understand the potential and the use of live streaming, they also have the audience of engaged fans for it.

It’s not just about the discovery of the videos but rather about the engagement and where communities meet.

The future?

With many players announcing new live features still trying to distinguish themselves, 2016 is bound to be a very interesting and telling year for the future of live streaming. Only time will tell who will survive the coming year and if the future is headed toward live streaming or maybe in a totally different direction, such as virtual reality.

I’m very excited and curious about 2016 and would love to get your comments and thoughts about what’s coming next.

The article Why has live streaming flopped so far? first appeared on Geektime.

The post Why has live streaming flopped so far? appeared first on e27.

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