Facebook just proved how serious it is about live video.
The company has completely revamped its broadcast product, Live, adding features and putting a new hub for finding streams front-and-center in the Facebook mobile app:
With replayable comments and on-screen reactions, the product now looks a lot more Twitter’s live-streaming app, Periscope.
If you’re watching a video once it’s no longer live, you’ll now be able to see comments as they occurred (previously it could be confusing to watch a video after it broadcast, because you’d see someone on camera responding to comments live, but not know exactly what those comments were).
Facebook says that its initial data shows that people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.
And now, when users click one of Facebook’s Reaction buttons in real-time, it will create a little animation with their profile picture and then their chosen response on screen.
Periscope, which launched last year, uses little heart icons in a similar way and has always showed comments prominently during broadcasts and replays.
Live also looks more like Snapchat now, too, because it gives users the ability to draw on their videos and add filters.
Instead of going live to all their Facebook friends at once, users will also now be able to send streams only to members of certain events or groups (for example, birthday party attendees could broadcast the fun to anyone who got the event’s invitation but couldn’t make it).
More people using Live…
Facebook has been pumping up its focus on video in the last year, and on live video in particular since the fall.
The social networks says that people have used the broadcast feature in a bunch of different ways, ranging from regular people connecting with far-away family members to celebrity chefs giving an inside-peek at their process (here are some other surprising uses).
Since Facebook launched Live last year, people have created more than 670,000 live streams which have garnered over 12.6 billion views, according data from the video-intelligence software company Tubular Labs. That’s up from 246,000 live streams with over 5.7 billion views at the beginning of March.
The new content discovery hub, which lets users browse Live videos by category or region, is likely to increase that number.
The new hub will also show trending videos, recommendations, and let Facebook users send push notifications to their friends to watch a stream together.
Although Facebook’s live product now looks a lot more like existing offerings from Snapchat, Periscope, and Meerkat (which recently pivoted on its original approach to video because it wasn’t getting enough traction), Facebook has the advantage of its colossal scale:
More than 1.5 billion people already use the social network.
“Facebook is where the audience is,” Facebook product management lead Fidji Simo recently told Fortune when asked why Facebook’s product can succeed over rivals. “It’s also where your friends are. Media companies and public figures want to go where the audience is. You may want to go where your friends are. Having a large network like Facebook is really critical to growing Live video.”
…means a potentially huge pay-out
When asked about making money from Live, Simo declined to discuss any sort of timeline, but didn’t rule it out.
The concept of live digital video is so attractive to advertisers because its audiences are more engaged and there’s more real-time context (for example, streams from sporting events or award shows). The sense of immediacy and engagement of Live videos could provide the same sort of catnip to brands as Snapchat’s “Live” stories, sponsored Lenses, and geofilters, while being capable of reaching many more users (with more data on each one).
As more advertisers shift their budgets from television to the internet, Live has enormous revenue potential.
All these new features will be rolling out to users in the next few weeks, and Facebook promises there’s more on the way.
“We’ll keep working to bring you the best ways to broadcast, interact with, and discover live video,” Simo writes in a blog post on the news. “Stay tuned.”
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