Just two days after Twitter limited Meerkat’s integration with the social network, Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin took the stage at South by Southwest to promise new features coming to his livestreaming app.
The new features will make it easier for users to discover others and introduce the ability to re-watch Meerkat livestreams even after they’re no longer live.
Meerkat, which quickly gained more than 120,000 users after Twitter users realised it was an easy way to broadcast live video their followers, has since been crippled by Twitter.
On Friday, Twitter announced it had acquired a yet-to-be released Meerkat competitor, Periscope, and hours later imposed limitations on Meerkat that now prevent Meerkat users from automatically turning their Twitter followers into Meerkat followers.
It’s a blow to Meerkat that will make it harder for Meerkat users to immediately plug into an established friend group, but Rubin promised a new discovery feature was in the works to make that process easier.
“We need to provide users a way to discover more people and search more people,” Rubin told Yahoo’s David Pogue, according to The Wall Street Journal, adding that Twitter had “escalated our decision-making a little bit forward.”
Meerkat currently only allows you to watch a Meerkat if you catch the stream while the person is still livestreaming, but Rubin also announced plans to allow Meerkat users to save and re-publish their Meerkat videos after the live broadcast, a change that will move Meerkat away from being known as an ephemeral app.
“The idea behind it is not to cater to ephemerality,” Rubin said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We want to make sure that you control the content after you post it.”
In our interview with Rubin last week, Rubin referenced the recent BBC’s Meerkat coverage of the Ferguson protests as one of his favourite examples of the potential of Meerkat. Allowing Meerkats to live on beyond their broadcast window would make it easier for content creators to reach more people, though part of the fun of Meerkat has always been knowing that you’re watching something that will disappear minutes later.
Moving away from ephemerality will fundamentally change Meerkat, but it will likely make it easier for the average Meerkat user to ensure their friends can watch and re-watch their broadcasts.
A Meerkat with re-playable broadcasts draws comparisons to Snapchat Stories, a feature launched by Snapchat back in October 2013 which allowed users to post 10-second videos that could be watched and re-watched during a 24 hour time window. Snapchat Stories has since become Snapchat’s most popular feature, with over one billion Snapchat Stories viewed every day.
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