The revolution will NOT be televised

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For me the arrival of Facebook Live is a game changer and could be one of the single most important things in media since the arrival of YouTube.  

I’ve written a lot recently about the new live stream services from Facebook and Twitter but I still get a lot of blank stares, yawns and eye-rolls when I talk about these new services.

Some of the more progressive TV companies seem interested in the idea but are put off by the idea of a ‘third party’ owning the distribution – meanwhile the marketers and media buyers seem to view Facebook Live either as a harbinger of the apocalypse or a tech fad with no commercial potential.

They are dead wrong.

The means of distribution has been put into the hands of the audience – and those who fail to adapt may find themselves, like Blockbuster Video or Kodak film – on the wrong side of a technical inevitability. Facebook Live can allow anyone with good content to reach millions of people; live. And that brings enormous commercial potential.

And it’s not just me. Facebook and Twitter have both put live video at the heart of their strategies’ for the next year. Facebook recently said it is interested in buying ‘streaming rights’ to some NFL games in the USA. The first public bid for the rights to a live event.

This is a game changer – we already have a world where we don’t need a TV to watch an event – but now we can foresee a world where we don’t need a TV channel on which to watch an event.

Ok so I doubt many of us would watch a whole game on a Facebook but this stuff gets really interesting when you look at the ‘second screen’ approach.

During and after the UK’s Six Nations Rugby games – the RFU was streaming live additional content via Facebook Live. I watched for around 15 minutes – and despite some glorious technical cock-ups (most of it had no sound) – I watched as the live feed audience increased from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand.

The coverage itself was far from inspiring, merely some pitch-side interviews, but the audience loved the opportunity to ask questions, make comments and generally have their say (though a lot were snarky comments about the lack of sound). What we have to remember is that all of these comments made those users into de-facto followers. Allowing the channel to target them again in the future, as well as add them to their targetable ad audience.

These big events, however, are only really part of the story. It is tempting to see Facebook Live and Periscope as a platform only for ‘behind the scenes’ footage – but it is so much more than that. They offer the chance for any event to be live – even those which are created purely for the purpose of being streamed on a social media platform.

“Could we also see a world where a TV channel takes itself only onto Facebook?”

One day soon an ad-agency is going to come up with a killer campaign that features live video – the first live advertising concept. Only then will people start to realise its potential.

Could we also see a world where a TV channel takes itself only onto Facebook? Well maybe that is a few years away but it is not inconceivable. In the meantime, anybody from newspapers to political parties, charities to mercenaries can start reaching out to new audiences using an instantly engaging platform that already has over a billion users.

So whether you are a TV channel, a branded content producer or an ad-agency – now is the time to start thinking about your Facebook Live and Periscope strategy (not forgetting some of the of other live stream services such as Google+ Hangouts and Meerkat as well as YouTube Live).

Facebook originally introduced live to only an elite group of verified users to help control the demand on the bandwidth and to set a higher standard for the videos streamed. Those restrictions are now starting to be lifted. As each week goes by, more and more platforms are becoming available. The app became available on Android in the US this week; with the rest of the world likely to roll out in the coming weeks.

I can understand why a lot people are still struggling with the idea of live video on social media. It’s not an easy thing to get your head around. Although we have long specialised in IP based video here at Celebro Studios – and of course we work a lot in the live broadcast sector – in many ways Facebook Live and Periscope bring new challenges to the way we work and approach a live event.

Here at Celebro Studios we’ll be putting a variety of live feeds to-air over the coming weeks – partly to test the new technology but also to discuss and brainstorm the best way to use the new platform. Do pop by and say hello!


 Celebro Media Studio is a London based media consultancy and TV studio. 

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