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Place Your Bets – The Live Streaming Race is On

Place Your Bets – The Live Streaming Race is On

If you were in attendance at SXSW a few weeks ago, then you were there to witness the unveiling of a new era of social sharing.

For those who weren’t, I’m talking about live streaming – the newest tech trend re-envisioned and poised to go huge, thanks in part to two live streaming apps taking social by storm.

What’s the big deal? Don’t we have enough social networks and communication options already? No – because one button, palm-of-your-hand live streaming is a completely new (and kind of creepy) level of social that hasn’t been available until now.

Sure, there are Google Hangouts and Ustream on the Web, and there are apps like Skype and Facetime, which allow you to video chat one-on-one – but until now there hasn’t been a way to live stream content directly to your social networks using a mobile device. That ability is a game changer.

Consider the implications:

Citizen journalism in real-time – Forget blogging or uploading a video to YouTube after the fact –live streaming will turn everyone with a smart phone and a POV into an on-the-scene reporter, able to offer up an inside look in the moment – before news crews, or even first responders, can arrive. We saw this last week in New York with the building fire/collapse in the East Village.

Access to people you normally couldn’t get to – Not to name-drop, but I’ve pretty excited to have had live streaming conversations with David Armano, Global Strategy Director at Edelman Digital and Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research – two people I follow and look up to, and could never have otherwise engaged in that type of Q&A.

Experiences you’d otherwise miss – Maybe Taylor Swift wouldn’t approve, given that whole Spotify situation, but I watched an Action Bronson concert from the front row of the balcony because Mario Batali was livestreaming it… yes, that Mario Batali.

Now for the apps:

When the first app, Meerkat, debuted at SXSW, it became the immediate golden child of the conference, catching the attention of the early-adopter/technophile crowd, as well as celebrities like Jimmy Fallon.

But every innovation has a rival waiting in the wings, and for Meerkat that rival is Periscope – the new, and newly Twitter-acquired, live streaming app. Once Twitter saw the traction Meerkat was getting, they created an obstacle to Twitter’s social graph – making it harder for Meerkat users to find and follow their Twitter friends.

Here are a few pros and cons for each contender:


  • Pro – Being first to the party means gaining an audience (and an edge) via early adopters
  • Pro – Gamification angle via a leader board of top users
  • Pro – Scrollable comments list that does not disappear
  • Con – There’s no easy way to follow people watching your stream, in their latest release they made it a little easier to follow people in general, but still not form your stream
  • Pro – Each comment/like/retweet goes on Twitter –in their latest release, you can turn that on and off
  • Con – No way to save the stream online for rebroadcast later, though, third party app #Katch will save the stream via a private YouTube link for you if you use their hashtag


  • Pro – The direct Twitter connection is certainly an advantage, though—
  • Con – No tweets post when you interact, I find this this be a disadvantage. I was getting more engagement from Twitter when I first started using Meerkat
  • Pro – Following people is easy, well easier, still 2 clicks away
  • Pro – You can save streams and have it saved for 24 hours on Periscope or save to your camera roll so you can post later
  • Con – The ‘hearts’ system is a little gimmicky, also, I can’t quickly tell who is giving me the heart, so I can’t say thank you
  • Con – Comments disappear – this sucks! Sometimes if you have a good stream going, people are commenting and its hard to keep up, there is no way to scroll back

Both apps have features to love, and both have kinks to work out. Periscope is (as of this writing) better designed in both UI and features – and being Twitter-owned certainly gives it the advantage as both rely on Twitter to amplify usage. I can’t make a prediction as to which will win this race, but I will say, it will be fun to watch. I have been logging onto both platforms and they both continue to have rising engagement.

As for live streaming itself? Get used to it, because it’s here to stay. We’re going to see more people sharing news and events using these (and other) apps, and I can’t wait. But just so you know, here’s what I won’t be tuning in for:

  1. A live stream of your fridge
  2. A live stream of your pet snake
  3. A live stream or you sleeping

Anything else, I’m pretty much game.

Have you tried Meerkat or Periscope yet? Which is your favorite and why?

About mchiaviello

Currently, Associate Creative Director, Brand Experience at Hook & Loop, Infor’s creative think-tank. A creative leader and team player with over 12 years of professional experience in art direction and design in agency and corporate settings. Successfully launched 360˚ campaigns across print, digital, direct mail and TV.

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