Livestreaming is Broken, Here’s How to Fix It

For a very long time now, Livestreaming has been the holy grail of mobile social interactions. However the harsh reality is that, for the most part it’s still somewhat of an elusive dream, never quite done right, never really catching on with mainstream users. One of the reasons for this is that in general, people really aren’t comfortable on camera. They’re very self conscious and tend to shy away from live video chats. In most cases it’s so much easier to fire off a few words along with an image rather than worry about how you look, your surroundings and the way you sound.

Meerkat, one of the big contenders in the livestreaming space is the latest to admit defeat. Roughly two weeks ago, Meerkat CEO Ben Rubin sent an email to his company’s 48 investors laying bare an observation that he’d made peace with months earlier: Meerkat, the livestreaming app that played the role of darling one year ago at the annual SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, was failing.

“The year started on a high note. … But over the year, it became rougher waters,” the email read. “Mobile broadcast video hasn’t quite exploded as quickly as we’d hoped. The distribution advantages of Twitter/Periscope and Facebook Live drew more early users to them away from us and we were not able to grow as quickly alongside as we had planned.”

In other words, launching a successful livestreaming business is incredibly hard to do. Going up against two established social networks “Twitter/Periscope and Facebook Live” & offering virtually the same product makes it exponentially harder. So back to the drawing board it is for Ben and the Meerkat team.

Serial entrepreneur Nir Ofir who, 10 years ago launched the web livestreaming service BlogTV shared his thoughts in a recently published post titled – Saturday night LIVE — why live video social networks have not found their spot among the masses.Yet…

I think that the secret for making live broadcast being successful is not a secret at all. Twitch.tv proved it: they are using live video as the ultimate medium to produce real valuable content to real community. They’ve found the perfect use case to the perfect community producing the perfect content for that community. And most important- while twitch is doing live video, it’s only one of their competitive advantages“.

Twitch.tv is indeed a perfect example of video streaming done right, as it delivers on of the biggest missing ingredients from both the creator and to the viewer; Context.

Twitch stream viewers expect to see videos from their favorite gaming content creators, about the games they’re already playing, or would like to play. Viewers tune-in with the right mindset. The most successful Twitch Streamers will keep generating more viewers and a bigger audience, as long as they live up to viewer expectations.

Let me back up for a moment and explain why context is so important.

THE INGREDIENTS OF SUCCESS

Think of the last time someone started telling you a great story. Did they start at the beginning, or jump right into the middle without putting it all in context? What if they jumped right to the middle part, or to the end, skipping right through the important parts? You would probably look at them very strangely and make every effort to avoid them afterwards, right? That’s how most of the livestreaming services are set up right now. Without context, or setting expectations, thoughts immediately jump into a viewer’s heads with what they want to say, based on the very first few words they hear. This is something I find myself doing far too frequently. Most of us listen to someone with the intention of replying, and stop giving our full attention. Facebook understand this, and has put an emphasis on context by sharing it as their main tip on the Facebook Live page. Facebook recommends giving fans a heads up prior to going. This sets the right expectation both for the creator and viewer.

Facebook Live

The second missing ingredient is; consistency. Nothing frustrates users more than having to figure out how to use the same app across multiple devices. Take for example the official Facebook app which not only works differently on iOS as it does on Android, but also offers different features depending on your physical location. This lack of consistency can severely hurt the growth of an app if there’s already a learning curve to begin with. Take a look at Evernote, Netflix, Dropbox, and Amazon Kindle as role models in consistency across multiple platforms.

The third ingredient is; unique content. Let’s face it, there’s really no lack of great content being created on dozens of web and mobile services such as Vine, Instargam Videos, Periscope, Live for Facebook and even your own private Whatsapp Groups (that’s where the best stuff always is, right?) If you’re going to build a livestreaming service that stands out, you better find a way to offer unique content that viewers won’t find anywhere else. Better yet, it make it niche content focused on Fashion, How-to Videos, Extreme Sports, Dating, find a big hungry audience and cater to them in the best way possible.

This goes back to the point about context. Place someone in the right context, set their expectations, and allow creators the creative freedom to deliver unique content. That’s how you get viewers coming back.

The final ingredient is simplicity. User experience and satisfaction have become major factors in mobile app development. This is especially true for competing apps in a similar market that are vying for a larger share of the audience. This makes customer experience and satisfaction such an important parameter. So, ease of use, simplicity and attractiveness are dominant factors behind the success of any app.

Booyah, a recently launched app by Rounds has gotten simplicity right.  The app supports video calls for up to 12 so you don’t have to worry about a massive audience to begin with. Once a user begins a call, they can tap a button to invite their WhatsApp contacts into the call. However, the app doesn’t limit itself to just WhatsApp users, as users can invite others to live video chats by sending invite links through email or text message, or posting invite links on Twitter and other platforms.

The beauty of Booyah is that it doesn’t require users to create an account before joining or starting a call. In addition, the app does not share content back to WhatsApp, or save content on users’ devices.

THE GOOD NEWS IS

There has been fascinating innovation in the livestreaming space with services like Facebook Live, Periscope, Meerkat, MeVee, and Booyah, just to name a few. The good news is eventually someone is going to get this right. The future of livestreaming is bright.  Money is also starting to come in. And where there is money, better, more creative professional content generally follows.

 

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