Tag Archives: live streaming

You can now go live on Instagram with a friend

Following a test this past summer, Instagram is now letting users broadcast live with a friend. Users can invite anyone who’s currently watching their broadcast to join, although only two people can broadcast simultaneously, which is visualized through a split screen. The owner of the broadcast can remove their guest and add someone else whenever they want.

The actual stories will look different in Instagram’s feed, too. Instead of a single live circle, you’ll see two circles stacked on top of each other. The update should be live in both the App Store and the Google Play Store today.



Vimeo Acquires Livestream and Launches Vimeo Live

Vimeo is adding live-streaming capabilities to its video-sharing website so that users can stream live events, including everything from concerts to sporting events.

The company said on Tuesday that it has agreed to acquire the live video streaming service Livestream and is launching a new service called Vimeo Live. IAC-owned Vimeo did not announce the financial details for its acquisition of Livestream, a Brooklyn-based company that says it has more than 10,000 subscribers including businesses like Spotify and Dow Jones.

Once the deal closes, Vimeo said it will fold Livestream’s technology into its new Vimeo Live service, which will allow Vimeo’s paying community of “creators” to stream live video from anywhere and then archive that footage, which they can distribute and sell later through the site.

Vimeo’s subscribers, who currently pay as much as $50 per month to host their videos on the website, will have the option of signing up for a similar monthly or annual subscriptions for access to Vimeo Live’s new live-streaming tools. Vimeo’s website is already advertising those new Vimeo Live subscription plans, starting at $75 per month as well as a custom plan for businesses like media companies that costs $800 monthly.


“Live streaming is the #1 request from our creator community this year, and we’re focused on bringing a new level of quality, convenience and craft to this evolving medium,” Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud said in a statement. “With the launch of Vimeo Live and the addition of Livestream’s impressive team and innovative product suite, we can empower a diverse range of creators to produce beautiful live experiences with professionalism and ease.”

Vimeo Live will allow subscribers to broadcast live events in high-definition video with the option of hosting live-chat next to the video. And, once the deal for Livestream closes, Vimeo Live will also offer mobile live-streaming, including through the Vimeo app on Apple iOS, Google Android, Roku, Amazon, and Samsung devices, among others.

Vimeo’s push into live-streaming comes only a few months after the company announced that it had abandoned plans to launch a subscription video service in 2018. That service would have featured original programming from Vimeo, which had said it planned to spend “tens of millions” of dollars on original content in an attempt to follow in the footsteps of other streaming video services like Netflix (which is spending $6 billion on its own original programming this year).

Instead, Vimeo will look to compete with other digital companies that already offer live-streaming video, including Google’s YouTube and Facebook’s Facebook Live.



Facebook plans to spend up to $1B on original shows in 2018

Facebook could spend as much as $1 billion to fund original content initiatives for its new Watch video platform, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The amount might seem familiar – it’s the same investment Apple is said to have earmarked for original shows and movies through 2018.

Facebook’s spend could vary depending on the success of programming, but it’s also a figure that extends through next year. This would also be a new high-water mark for Facebook spending on video content specific for its platform, exceeding past initiatives like incentives paid to encourage live streaming from media outlets.

Facebook launched Watch to all U.S. users this week – the new tab in the Facebook app houses original shows from Facebook partners, including content from Freethink Media, MLB, Discovery Channel and more. It’s hoping to drive more engagement on the platform with its original video content initiative, and the shows resemble a lot of the videos that naturally receive a lot of interaction on the platform when shared, covering sports, science and other ‘shareable’ topics.

This kind of spending on original content, even if Facebook extends to the top end of its proposed budget, is still behind what dedicated companies like Netflix and Amazon spend on their own shows. But it’s not far off from HBO’s annual content creation spend, and could go a long way if Facebook is spending more of it on less ambitious programming relative to something like Game of Thrones.

Streaming platforms so far have shown that destination programming is key – Facebook’s approach seems to be a blend of the Netflix and YouTube methods for obtaining said programming. Next year definitely sounds like it’ll be interesting for the original content realm – should give us plenty to talk about.


Facebook plans to spend up to $1B on original shows in 2018

China clamps down on live-streaming services

The Chinese government has cracked down on three of the country’s top live-streaming services over their apparent broadcast of unsuitable political content.

Weibo, the Nasdaq-listed microblogging site, disclosed that it had received a notice from The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (‘SAPPRFT’) asking it to remove illegal content and user accounts.

“The SAPPRFT had recently requested the local competent authorities to take measures to suspend several companies’ video and audio services due to their lacking of an internet audio/video program transmission license and posting of certain commentary programs with content in violation of government regulations on their sites, and Weibo is named as one of these companies,” Weibo wrote in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported that similar notices were issued to Phoenix New Media — the company behind ifeng.com — and video site AcFun.

It some ways it was inevitable. First came the investors with money, then we saw incredible revenue growth as the medium took off — now the government arrives with regulations for some of the edgier content out there.


News of this week’s clampdown comes after regulators forced WeChat and Weibo to close down celebrity gossip outlets using the services to disseminate news. China’s strict new cybersecurity laws went into effect on June 1. Although the exact details of how they will impact businesses is unclear right, containing online media seems to be one of the major focuses.

This is the second controversy that Weibo has dealt with this past month. Overseas-based users of the Chinese service found themselves unable to publish videos or photos during the weekend of the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Weibo blamed the situation on a systems upgrade, but the timing of the restriction made it seem like a method to prevent content that would be deemed unsuitable by authorities. The Chinese government has never acknowledged nor commented uponthe events that took place in Tiananmen on June 4, 1989 — which resulted in upwards of 300 deaths as troops forcibly suppressed student-led protests.



China clamps down on live-streaming services

Facebook cracks down on fake live videos

Facebook is banning misleading uses of its Live video format. The company tells TechCrunch that it’s adding a section to its Live API Facebook Platform Policy that reads “Don’t use the API to publish only images (ex: don’t publish static, animated, or looping images), or to live-stream polls associated with unmoving or ambient broadcasts.”

Videos that violate the policy will have reduced visibility on Facebook, and publishers that repeatedly break the rule may have their access to Facebook Live restricted.

TechCrunch called on Facebook to crack down on fake “Live” videos back in January after it announced a list of the top 10 Live videos of 2016 — half of which weren’t really Live but instead just polls or countdowns on a static background.

Facebook asked for viewer feedback, and heard that users don’t find these static images or graphics-only pools to be interesting or engaging Live content. In December, Facebook quietly barred graphics-only Live videos that used Likes or Reactions to get people to vote from the News Feed.

Now Facebook is taking the next step toward preserving the sanctity of the Live format.


It’s the urgency, unpredictability and on-screen action that draws people to Live videos and gets them to keep watching to see what happens next. If users grow accustomed to fake Live videos, they may watch all Live videos less, and be less inclined to open notifications about people or publishers they follow starting to broadcast.

We’ve reached out for clarifications about one prevalent type of misleading Live videos: countdowns. Since these are often filmed with a computer graphic over a looping background, videos like the New Year’s countdown above from BuzzFeed could potentially be qualify, but Facebook tells me that for now, countdowns of real-world happens that don’t loop are not prohibited. But if publishers who post thes keep getting negative feedback, their reach could shrink, and Facebook seays it will continue to monitor this trend.

Facebook has poured a ton of engineering and marketing resources into owning the verb, “to go Live.” Keeping the quality of these broadcasts high is critical to it recouping those costs over the long-term by being the the premier place to record and watch Live social content.

Camera Silhouette and screen

GoPro’s New Strategic Focus: The Plan to Expand Into Original Content

“I was up jammin’ ’til 3 a.m. last night,” GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman says by way of apology, as he arrives half an hour late for a recent interview at the company’s headquarters in San Mateo, Calif. If the surfer-dude lingo isn’t enough of a giveaway that Woodman isn’t your typical CEO, there’s the motocross helmet and skateboard deck on display in his playfully decorated office.

What kept him up the night before were meetings with marketing and product teams, preparing for a couple of busy months ahead. GoPro is expected to officially unveil its next-generation consumer camera, dubbed the Hero 5, in the coming weeks. But despite the near-all-nighter, and with his breakfast untouched on his desk, Woodman exudes enthusiasm about the future of his company — a future that has been overshadowed by significant losses over the past three quarters.


To get GoPro back on solid ground, Woodman sees the company’s future encompassing more than cameras. He’s building a suite of software and services around GoPro’s core hardware, including what may be the chief exec’s most audacious move yet: an ambitious foray into the world of entertainment that he feels will help fulfill the brand’s potential.

“This holiday, we will have realized the full vision,” Woodman says. “GoPro 1.0 will finally be deployed.”

Of course, “1.0” is a funny way to describe the state of a company that has gone through more than a few upgrades since Woodman, 41, founded it in October 2002. An avid surfer and world traveler, he hadn’t wanted to choose between being the person behind the lens and the one actually riding the surfboard. As a result, he developed a compact camera that could be strapped to the body, the roof of a car, a bike, or anywhere else that was in the middle of the action. “Before GoPro, you had a world full of people pursuing their passions with no record of it,” Woodman says.

GoPro started selling its first cameras in 2004, and quickly became a hit with action-sports fans — snowboarders, surfers, divers, BMX bike riders, motorcyclists. It has catered to those users with an ever-evolving lineup of cameras and accessories, including straps that can mount GoPros to motorcycle helmets, backpacks, and even the family pet. What was once a scrappy startup has become a billion-dollar publicly listed company.

But the past year has brought considerable turbulence. Investors got spooked when the company’s sales cratered during the holiday season, with year-over-year revenue declining from $634 million to $436 million in the fourth quarter. Things looked even worse the following quarter, when the company lost a record $121 million during the three months ending March 31, compared with net earnings of $22 million the year before.


GoPro also quietly acquired San Francisco-based computer vision startup Lumific last year with the goal of adding more smarts to its services. Lumific developed apps that were able to find similar photos in a user’s camera roll, and help them find the best shots for sharing. Applied to video, similar features could further advance GoPro’s cloud services.

Asked about revenue opportunities from cloud services, Woodman is enthusiastic. “Is there an opportunity to provide a fee-based service, subscription service? For sure!”

But GoPro isn’t just looking to generate cloud revenue with subscription fees. It also aims to assemble a giant repository of sports and lifestyle videos through its cloud services. “Imagine when all of that content is managed in our cloud, and you’ve given us rights to license it and monetize it on your behalf,” says Woodman.

GoPro already has taken the first steps in that direction with its awards program, launched in October. As part of that initiative, the company invites users to submit photos and videos, paying them up to $5,000 for their footage.

However, until now, users had to submit content to GoPro to take part in the program. With its upcoming cloud services, the company could automatically tap into a huge pool of videos that could then be redistributed on GoPro’s own channels, or licensed to others. “We go from having access to a very small amount of content to having access to dramatically larger amounts of content,” explains Woodman. “That’s going to dramatically scale our licensing opportunities.”

GoPro also wants to use this content pool to identify the best filmmakers in its community, work with them directly on future productions, and, over time, build out a network of correspondents. “Those correspondents then become our stringers around the world,” says Lynch. He likens the effort to the way Vice has been working with freelancers to develop programming with a distinct look.

While becoming a kind of Vice of action sports, travel, and lifestyle — powered by a worldwide network of freelance correspondents — is no easy feat, making money with it may even be harder. Bates readily admits as much. “It takes many, many years to change a business model,” he says, cautioning against overly high expectations. “We as a company need to be realistic that monetizing content is a whole different approach. I think what we are building is the optionality to do it.”

“We as a company need to be realistic that monetizing content is a whole different approach.”

The question is whether GoPro’s investors have the patience for a multiyear bet on media and the cloud. That patience got tested severely last year by the bungled introduction of the Hero Session, the company’s smallest camera. GoPro had to delay the launch, and decided to go to market in July, at a time when people are frequently on vacation. What’s more, the new camera was priced close to the company’s top-line model, confusing consumers and reviewers alike. The launch was a disaster, and consumers weren’t buying the Session until GoPro cut the retail price in half.

“We introduced a product that competed with our own product,” admits Bates.

Earlier this year, GoPro also delayed the launch of its long-awaited drone, which is now scheduled to be released in time for the holiday season. All of this scared investors, sending the company’s stock sharply down, from a high of $63 a year ago to a low of $8.88 in May, before an August rebound that saw shares climb above $15 to a seven-month high. The company took some painful steps to turn things around, including laying off 7% of its staff and cutting several camera models from its lineup.

Bates maintains that quarterly revenue generated by selling cameras to retailers doesn’t reveal the whole picture. Sell-through data, which shows how many cameras consumers have actually bought, has been on the uptick, suggesting that stores are moving their inventory before GoPro introduces a new model. “From a business perspective, the company is in as good a shape as it possibly can be,” says Bates. “Inventory has never been lower.”


GoPro’s New Strategic Focus: The Plan to Expand Into Original Content (EXCLUSIVE)

One in five Facebook videos is Live as it seizes the verb

While most people still aren’t sure what to broadcast, and some have misused the format for unsavory or criminal purposes, Facebook now says one-fifth of the videos share on its network are now Live videos. It’s also seen Live broadcasting daily watch time grow 4X in the past year, according to Facebook’s head of video Fidji Simo.

This shows Facebook’s efforts to own the verb “Live” are paying off.

Livestreaming didn’t blow up like it seemed it would in 2015, when Meerkat rekindled the market, Twitter dove in with Periscope, and Facebook began testing Live. Now after middling usage, $100 million in payments to broadcasters, a massive physical advertising campaign, and problems with livestreamed violence, some are questioning Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to put the company on lockdown to rapidly launch the feature.

But it wasn’t worth the risk for Facebook to wait and see. If livestreaming became popular, Facebook needed to own the verb “Live” — to be the first tool people thought of when they saw something worth broadcasting.

Social apps live and die by network effect. The first one to do a feature the right way can roll up a snowball of user traction.

Facebook sat back and watched Snapchat turn into a juggernaut with its Stories feature. Failing to acquire it with what would look like a low-ball offer, Facebook is now late to the Stories game and desperately trying to play catch up. 

After the press pounced on Meerkat in February 2015, Twitter launched its acquisition Periscope. Facebook saw the potential nightmare of the world “Periscoping” weddings, parties, sporting events, and breaking-news moments. After largely vanquishing Twitter in terms of scale, it didn’t want it making a comeback on mobile video. Nor did Facebook want Snapchat to swoop in with a “cool” take on livestreaming.

So after some rapid development, Facebook launched the first tests of Live with celebrities in August 2015, and expanded it to all US iPhone users in January. Soon, it had discovered a critical stat, according to The Wall Street Journal. 75 percent of users were high school or college kids. Live was a chance to attract the youth demographic and original content sharing Facebook was losing to Snapchat. 

Mark Zuckerberg decided to reallocate resources to Live and put over 100 employees on “lockdown” building it for all Facebook users. It would go on to buy an international blitz of billboards, bus stops, and commercials to teach people how and when to go Live — an attempt to cement its grip on the verb.

The company knew there might be objectionable content troubles, but underestimated their scope. There have been dozens of instances of violence and suicides on Live since that should have been censored. Meanwhile, Facebook has mistakenly censored some graphic but newsworthy videos like the aftermath of the police shooting of Philando Castile. 

But if Facebook can entrench itself as the place for Live broadcasts, it seems to believe it can solve the rest of the content quality and safety issues over time. Move fast and break things is still Facebook’s philosophy, even if it’s tried to distance itself from the phrase.


One in five Facebook videos is Live as it seizes the verb

MLB is pushing to stream games on Facebook

The biggest job of the league’s front office is to make sure that the game of baseball, and Major League Baseball specifically, continues to grow and remain popular as new generations grow old. In the eyes of many, they are losing younger generations right now and they’re focusing on trying to get them back. Obviously, commissioner Rob Manfred has been gung-ho about pace of play. Improvements in that area aren’t the only way to reach a new audience, though. MLB seems to also realize they need to join the 21st century, and according to reports they are pushing for a deal with Facebook for the tech giant to stream one game per week.

While the deal is not yet complete, the reports indicate they are deep in the conversations. This alone wouldn’t create a new generation of baseball fans, of course, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that younger people are watching less and less TV and are utilizing more streaming options. Being able to attract to cord-cutters on the biggest social media platform in the world certainly couldn’t hurt. This, in addition to the fact that most media markets should be close to in-market streaming deals, shows that MLB is finally starting to get it.

As for Facebook, the deal makes sense for them. Social media platforms have been trying to get into the sports game for the last few years, since it’s clearly the last vestige of live television. We saw Twitter have success with Thursday Night Football last year, and Facebook is an even larger platform. It’s unclear at this time what kind of game they would be getting in a deal with MLB, but it would be a nice start for them as their first deal with a major league. MLB still has work to do in marketing to young people — like changing their social media rules around sharing highlights and figuring out how to market their stars — but this potential partnership with Facebook is a nice start.



Live-streaming in China now requires a broadcast license if you’re not a citizen

Live streaming is taking off in China, but foreigners won’t be able to join in the fun.

Foreigners are reporting having their accounts suspended on big streaming platforms, where popular users are raking in big bucks through virtual gifts and other micro-donations.

Users on both Yizhibo, which is backed by Chinese social media giant Weibo, and Blued, China’s most popular gay social networking app, have received vague suspension notices, Sixth Tone reports.

Anton, a Ukrainian national living in China, said he was suddenly cut off during a broadcast session on Jan. 12.

“The app sent me a message saying I had broken some rules, but I was just broadcasting,” the Blued user said.

“Then, staff told me there was a new national regulation.”

These events come shortly after Chinese officials enforced a new set of regulations last year, stating that non-Chinese streamers had to first apply to the Ministry of Culture before starting their own live-streaming channels.

The law may be in place, but proper instructions to streaming services appear to be unclear. An unnamed employee from one of the streaming companies told Sixth Tone that details have not yet been released on how foreigners can apply for their broadcasting licences.


Live-streaming apps are massively popular in China, with some 300 million people in the country having used such apps in 2016.

To put that into context, the population of the entire U.S. is slightly over 300 million.

Many live-streamers broadcast every aspect of their everyday lives, from playing games online to putting on makeup, with some treating it as a full-time job. 

Especially popular live-streamers have earned millions off such apps, and users are able to present virtual gifts to their favorite live-streamers, which can later be monetized.