“Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket. Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world. When you interact live, you feel connected in a more personal way. This is a big shift in how we communicate, and it’s going to create new opportunities for people to come together,” said Mark Zuckerberg, when he launched Facebook Live.
His words almost prophetic in tone, Facebook’s recent push into live broadcasting has caught the fancy of the corporate world, musicians, politicians and academicians alike. The broadcast industry, which is constantly seeing new innovations and disruptions lately, is also witnessing an entirely new category within its ecosystem with this launch.
The power and clout of Facebook Live is rising by the day. Recently, the Caribbean Premier League organisers announced that they have partnered with Facebook to beam the action in 40 countries, an early indication of what can be expected in the coming time.
Similarly, Reliance Industries took to Facebook to live stream its third quarter results earlier this year. According to the company officials, it was among the first such live posts in India and came within 30 days of Facebook allowing live streaming of commercial events.
The use of Facebook videos, particularly live streaming, presents an opportunity to reach an unparalleled audience far beyond the reach of the traditional broadcast. Across the world, increasing number of people from myriad professions-musicians, politicians, academicians, religious groups etc are using Facebook Live to reach out to newer audiences.
In China, Live streaming has become a genre in itself. Pole dancing, bungee jumping, a woman eating maggots etc., millions of Chinese are live-streaming all of this and much more on their smartphones. Think of it as a substitute for TV shows and games. Top streamers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Now, with Facebook Live, the platform has got bigger and better and set to take the ‘Live Streaming’ genre to an entirely new level.
Moreover, Facebook recently announced that live streaming can be done using any device, including drones and high-definition cameras. By allowing such ease of broadcast, the number of videos on Facebook will dramatically increase and make it potentially a bigger rival to both YouTube and traditional TV.
Genesis of Facebook Live
The long term vision of Facebook is well served by live videos. Lately the trend of social videos becoming the most consumed content forms has surged the demand for greater video content. But this demand is often becoming a challenge, given Facebook’s massive captive audience of over a billion people. The Live streaming will eventually push brands and creators to flood social media platforms with new content to keep the audiences engaged and keep the demand and supply balance in check.
Even mainstream players are not immune to the growing influence of Facebook Live streaming. According to data from analytics firm SocialBakers, in June there were 533 live videos posted by the U.K.’s top 100 media pages, a 72 percent increase from the number of live videos posted in May (310 live videos). So far the publishers have only been too happy to oblige despite any clear path to monetization.
Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Mirum India explains the growing clout of Facebook Live. According to him, “Digital is posing challenges to traditional media at various levels, and this is one more example of the same. Clearly, Facebook as a platform commands a far higher audience than a typical television channel. Combine that with the power of accurate targeting on interest basis and an enormous power of rapid sharing that it provides, Facebook Live will definitely be a format to give traditional media a run for their money. The challenge of bandwidth has become lower, and consumption of video content, including live streamed kind, is definitely on the rise. And when in any case, content consumption - including the traditional TV content - happens increasingly, on the web, then, the usage of Facebook Live, especially as a challenge to television, will be higher over time. What is also interesting here, is that Facebook with this Facebook Live feature has given a big knock to YouTube as well, as live streaming on Facebook seems to clearly be more popular than on YouTube.”
Facebook Live and traditional broadcasting
Recently, the rise of OTT players has already signalled that viewers are moving to digital consumption models. The addition of Facebook Live has further challenged the broadcast players who will now lose the exclusivity to beam live content, as Facebook Live empowers anyone to do so with much ease.
One of the expected ways forward for the traditional broadcast players is to leverage the Facebook Live platform to increase their reach, like how they are using Twitter and Facebook pages to do so.
Speaking about the impact of Facebook Live on traditional broadcast players, Vinay Singhal, Co-Founder & CEO, WittyFeed said, “I think Facebook Live is going to have a great impact on the traditional broadcaster. Starting from News to the youth media, all of them are going live on Facebook. Even WittyFeed started India's very first Facebook Live show. It's a talent discovery show where we go live every Friday from 7-7:45 and discover a talent. The response has been amazing and we only plan to invest more and make it bigger.”
Sharing his thoughts on the subject, Gautamm Mehra, VP-Account Planning & Innovation, iProspect Communicate2, added, “We have had similar things before, like the Google Hangout platform, I think it will not impact the traditional broadcasters in any significant way, in fact all the platforms will be able to co-exist. Moreover, this feature is part of the content evolution like how we moved on from text to images to videos and now Live videos. The good thing about it, however, is that it will to the value of the content created on the platform.”