Don’t Get Caught Out With Live Streaming Video Apps

If you are a regular Twitter user you have probably started to notice a whole of people tweeting about going ‘Live’ – many businesses and brands are even starting to get in on the action.  It seems at least for now the whole craze is live streaming, so here’s a little run down on the 2 main players in the market and a look at some of the potential pitfalls for you and your business.

Meerkat

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They say being first to market is key in order to build your user base and capture market share. Launched in February 2015, Meerkat is a ‘live’ video streaming app which allows you to stream video from your smart phone device (iOS and Android) to anyone who follows you on Twitter. All you need to do to start a broadcast is to ‘write what’s happening’ and tap stream. You can also schedule broadcasts for later with Meerkat.

Once you are broadcasting you have the option on screen to view how many people are watching the stream. Those viewing the stream via the Meerkat app can interact with the broadcaster by asking questions, making comments etc which appear on screen. Broadcasters also have the ability to switch between rear and front-facing cameras, activate your camera’s flash and the option of limiting your comments to the Meerkat app; previously, it’s worth pointing out, comments on videos would automatically also appear in Twitter.

Once a ‘live’ stream on Meerkat has stopped, it can’t be re-watched. According to Meerkat ‘Everything that happens on Meerkat happens on Twitter. Streams will be pushed to followers in real time via push notifications. Everything is live, no reruns’. In its first month Meerkat attracted 160,000 users to its live streaming video platform.

Periscope

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Launched a couple of weeks after Meerkat – Twitter’s own Periscope (acquired in January 2015 for $100 Million) is similar in principal to Meerkat, in that Periscope streams live audio and video from a user’s smart phone which other people can watch and comment on from within the app.

A link is also posted to Twitter allowing those users to view broadcasters’ streams in a web environment. Those watching via the web cannot currently interact by commenting or giving floating hearts (likes). Given how popular live streaming has become, Periscope managed to gain 1 million users in its first 10 days. According to Keyhole, a hash tag tracker, ‘Only 41% of Meerkat’s users were repeat users, while 57% of Periscope’s users shared more than one video which means a 39% higher repeat usage’.

An interesting difference with Periscope is that (unlike Meerkat) comments and likes aren’t reflected on the broadcaster’s Twitter profile. All of the viewer’s engagement is kept within the Periscope app. Another major difference is that streams have the option of being replayed for up to 24 hours.

To cut a longish comparison story short, this infographic tells it better http://goo.gl/iCsHVD

Many businesses and brands have begun to experiment with both Periscope and Meerkat – as a new and exciting way to engage with their customers via real time video. Both of these apps have become somewhat of a game changer for news and media outlets. Even the Police and political parties have been creating live streaming content. Watch this space for what they get up to next!

What to watch out for?

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One of the biggest concerns for businesses, brands and indeed individual users of live streaming apps is that of copyright.

Both Meerkat and Periscope ‘generously’ give the onus of copyright to the user. A recent article in The Guardian features Robin Hilton, a media law partner at Sheridans who echoes the dangers of naively broadcasting illegal content for brands – “So they had better control what is being shown, and clear any rights. Advertisers should ensure that whatever they are streaming does not get out of control and thus convey messages they had never intended”. Alan Chappell of Chappell & Associates goes further predicting a “train wreck in waiting” with the forecast that “somebody will screw up”.

Beyond copyright

Of course it’s not just copyright that business and brands need to take into consideration with this new age of Live Streaming Video Apps – many have concerns with privacy, in terms of streaming live video content from sensitive locations in which security and sensitivity is of key importance.

Brands and business need to pay careful attention to how easy it could be to have an infringement issue as a result of using the apps, especially at live events. For larger brands in which attention to detail and quality is key, there’s a chance these elements can be lost, due to the potentially low quality of the recording. Also as it’s being streamed live, the impact can be more unpredictable as viewers can potentially interact with the stream in a negative way or try to hijack it.

Mayweather v Pacquiao hits Periscope

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The recent clash between Mayweather v Pacquiao saw, according to a recent BBC article reports that ‘firms had charged the public a record $89.95 (£59.50) to watch the fight in standard definition and an additional $10 in high definition’. This caused outrage as others were able to view the bout FOR FREE on Periscope as ticket holding attendees at the event were streaming the big fight live. The footage was patchy and low quality – but sufficient to follow what was happening in real time prompting Dick Costolo, Twitter’s CEO to quote Periscope as the real fight winner.

According to a spokeswoman from Twitter ‘Broadcasting content that is protected by copyright is a clear violation of our content policy. We received 66 reports from rights-holders and took action against 30 broadcasts in response to the reports. The remaining broadcasts had already ended and were no longer available. We were able to respond within minutes’.

What next?

There is no doubt that the potential is massive for live streaming but it’s still very early days and harks back to the old Wild West scenario with very little in terms of safety nets and content filters, should something go wrong.

So as a business or brand good advice would be to err on the side of caution. Now that anyone has the ability to become a digital broadcaster, the old rules which have always applied to TV Broadcasters, now apply to businesses and brands. And they better get schooled up.

Effectively as a business you need to worry about the same things. Try the apps out, enjoy their instant impact, but bear in mind considerations such as who owns the content and the copyright. Think ‘Privacy, ownership, permission and mostly monetisation’ (Guardian 31 March 2015). Think of the risks – defamation, libel and slander as well as the huge, easy and cheap opportunity to drive traffic to your product or service in the ‘new age of instant’. Think (or get a good lawyer) before you next hit ‘Live Stream’

Wayne Denner

About Wayne Denner

With over 17 years experience in the digital space Wayne is a self confessed Digital Ninja, working with professionals around the globe and delivering the Online Reputation Matters Program in schools and with businesses in Ireland, the UK and the UAE.