Live Streaming Industry: Overview
Livestreaming videos have been popular for years, and with pandemic-based social distancing rules in place all over the world, this popularity has skyrocketed. Everyone from grandmothers to rock stars post live videos, as most users have used the feature at least once, and many use it frequently. Popular content has changed during the pandemic; whereas live-event streaming and product reviews were once more popular, now many people watch influencers, regular folks, and musicians perform live from their comfort of their living rooms.
MOST POPULAR PLATFORMS FOR UGC-LIVESTREAMS
- Livestreaming programs/apps make it easy for users (and brands) to share their favorite content – themselves, events, activities, and everything in-between with their fan base – and then, as most of the platforms save the video content – with viewers who missed the livestream. They are easy to use, most of them are free (or very low cost), and they are a popular way to reach viewers (and attract new ones).
- Filmora lists the following as the “10 best live streaming platforms” to use for generating personal content (note: these do not appear to be listed in a particular order): Twitch, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Periscope, Younow, IRIS (Bambuser), USTREAM, Dacast, Livestream, and Brightcove.
- InPlayer lists the following as some of the “top used” apps for user-generated livestreaming of content, though these are listed in no particular ranking/order: Periscope, Livestream, StreamNow, Facebook Live, Instagram Live Stories, Broadcast Me, Alively, Hang W/, Twitch TV, and Streamago.
- Brief profiles of three of the major (and most popular) platforms for user-generated livestreaming content follows; it includes information on how easy each is to use, why users would want to use those platforms, and the typical users of the feature.
- Highly-popular social media platform Instagram launched its live feature at the end of 2016, though it only rolled out globally in 2019/2020. The Live Stories feature is built directly into the Instagram app, and to broadcast, it’s as easy as swiping right and tapping “Live.”
- Each video can be up to an hour long (which is a great length for longer streams like events), and watchers can comment during (and after) livestreams. The app will send a notification of a livestream event to followers (not all), while others can see the “Live” tag and click to watch. Videos are available for viewing as soon as the stream ends, making it easy to keep them to show others who missed the live showing.
- Many users (and video streamers) were pleased with the upgrades to Stories, since the previous version offered only 15-second chunks and the videos disappeared from the platform after 24 hours. Notably, most statistics related to the platform do not specifically profile Stories users; rather they focus on total active users to the entire platform (not just the Stories feature).
- Instagram boasts over 1 B monthly active users (500+ M of which are active daily), and 500+ M of whom use the Stories feature. The US has the highest number of IG users, with 37% of American adults using the platform. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of teens use the platform; 30% of the global audience is between the ages of 18 and 24, with 35% of users being ages 25 to 34.
- The already-popular Facebook added the Live feature, starting by making it “available only to popular actors and performers;” when they released it and made it publicly available, it quickly rose in popularity. The site offers the options to post to specific groups or people, or to show the livestream to the public; the streams can be watched via FB Live on the web or via the app.
- FB Live offers easy-to-add filters and text during the live broadcast, and content-streamers can change the color of the feed, as well. In addition, users can switch the way the camera faces (front/back), add a donation button, and switch to “microphone-mode only,” if they’d like. Livestreamers enjoy the ease of the program, as well as its quick ability to integrate directly with all FB features. Streamers enjoy the real-time interaction with their broadcast audience, so they can immediately improve if the video stream isn’t optimal.
- Facebook Live stats prove that those videos get “10 times more comments than regular videos,” with those videos seeing a popularity increase of 330% in one year’s time. FB Live videos also get three times the viewing length (meaning viewers watch three times longer) than regular videos. Between 2016 and 2018, FB Live videos had seen over 2 billion viewers, with experts believing that number to have grown significantly in the last year (and especially the last few months).
- At this time, about one in five videos on Facebook is a livestream.
- In addition to so-called regular/general Facebook users who use the Live feature, the feature is also used by 91% of businesses, a third of video marketers, and 76% of broadcasters for marketing; notably, only about a quarter (24%) have found live video streaming to be “very effective” for marketing. Additionally, 95% of those using mobile Facebook apps post livestreams.
- Notably, most statistics only include general Facebook users, rather than specific users for the particular Live feature. For Facebook proper, the site has over 2.5 B monthly active users, 2.26 B of which access the platform via their mobile apps. A full 69% of US adults use the platform, with a demographic that leans slightly more toward female (54%) than male (46%).
- Prior to the pandemic, TikTok was rising in popularity, though still fared behind other livestreaming platforms. In March 2020, the site added over 12 million more users from the US alone, and “its US unique visitor count rose 48.3%.” Among its desktop version, mobile website, and app, the app has grown most quickly in popularity, especially since the start of the world health crisis.
- Users enjoy TikTok because it allows them to create a “strong identity” online and share it with a highly-engaged community. It also allows users to create “compelling content,” not just 15-second videos, but video reactions and other “refreshingly creative” content. During the current pandemic, the site has allowed many more people to virtually connect while safely social distancing.
- Additionally, TikTok has a range of safety and family/parental controls, including a tighter set recently installed with the rise in popularity of the app, which put restrictions on direct messaging to minors, as well as employing stronger content filters.
- Prior to the pandemic, TikTok users mostly came from Generation Z (18 – 24 year olds), though the site reports that, during the pandemic, “now we’re seeing Millennials, Gen X and even Baby Boomer generations engaging on the platform to keep in touch with loved ones.”
Popular UG-Livestream Content
- According to experts, livestreaming via a social media platform is the way more than half (52%) of global livestreamers share their content. This is an important change in content consumption over the last decade in that a full “80% of consumers would rather watch a live stream than read a blog.”
- Notably, pre-pandemic content is different from what’s been most popular during the pandemic, so content has changed, and there may be additional changes in the future depending on the length and severity of the shutdowns and continued safe social distancing. During the pandemic, social media use has spiked significantly across all platforms, and the use of live videostreaming has increased.
- The types of content that becomes popular (or goes viral) depends on the platform. For example, Twitch has been typically used by gamers, though their non-gaming content has grown in popularity over the last year.
- Notably, the following content types have been most popular overall: vlogs, behind-the-scenes views, interviews or Q&As, webinars, livestreamed events, presentations or tutorials, product reviews, testimonials, and music. During the pandemic, many of those producing live videos, like influencers, have had to switch to different content types to keep audiences engaged and to do so safely from their own homes.
- Additionally, many musicians have turned to livestreams to support themselves while they cannot perform for live audiences. Many musicians, like this one for example, provide their Paypal or Venmo donations links to help fill their virtual tip jars.
- As one example of popular content, on Facebook Live, the most watched livestreamed video (so far) was a 2016 purchase of a Chewbacca mask by “The Chewbacca Mom.” The video has more than 50K views within an hour, and “within three days, that figure rose to 78 million views;” today, it has over 175 M views, and is considered to be the “most-watched video” on the platform.