Since Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) launched Periscope last year, live video has quickly grown in popularity. Even Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) jumped in on the promising trend. However, by keeping live video primarily associated with the Periscope app, Twitter has missed out on a key opportunity to launch live video on its core platform...until now.
Twitter goes live
On Wednesday, Twitter announced it is launching the ability for users to broadcast live video from within Twitter. The update, the company said, would roll out to everyone on Twitter for iOS and Android in the "coming days."
"Starting today, you can create and Tweet live video from the Twitter app," the company said in a blog post on Wednesday. To share live video, users simply compose a Tweet, tap "LIVE," frame their shot, and then press "Go Live."
Twitter's new live video feature, which it calls Go Live, is powered by Periscope, a live-streaming app Twitter bought in 2015 about a month before the app went live.
Earlier this year, Twitter began bringing Periscope technology to Twitter by integrating live video streams from Periscope into Twitter. This enabled Twitter users to discover and watch Periscope live streams in their timelines. But users had to open the stream in Periscope to interact with it.
But does Facebook have the upper hand?
By taking this long to launch live video on Twitter, the social media company has lost the momentum achieved from its initial success with Periscope, particularly as Facebook has charged ahead with the technology. Facebook enabled live video for all users on its social network in April, and the feature has proved to be a hit. In Facebook's third-quarter earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the number of people going live on the platform has quadrupled since May.
Facebook's ability to rapidly deploy live video to its entire user base reflects the social network's ability to execute quickly at a very large scale. When discussing the company's prowess in launching new features across its apps, Zuckerberg said during Facebook's most recent earnings call that its live video rollout demonstrates a competitive advantage Facebook has over smaller social networks like Twitter.
So there aren't that many companies that can do this at the scale that we're talking about. And this has been a big advantage for us.
And rolling out things like Live, we've had this infrastructure that we've been building out for a decade all around the world and that allowed us to build a product like Live where someone has to stream something live from their phone to potentially hundreds of thousands of people around the world from a phone. That's a difficult scaling problem.
So we've been able to build that up not just because of the ongoing investment in technology and infrastructure here, but because we're building on the strong base. That goes not only for of just being able to deliver the content, but being able to understand what it is so we can rank it in news feed better and show people the right content.
After initially leaping into the lead with live video when it launched Periscope, Twitter wants to reestablish itself as the go-to platform for live video. But can Twitter keep up with Facebook's execution and innovation in live streaming?
One way Twitter might be able to succeed in live video is by ensuring its platform evolves to better support the live video experience than Facebook's does. If Twitter can make live video feel like a more natural part of its user experience than Facebook can, the company could gain the momentum and scale needed to trounce Facebook in this important area. But, until Twitter proves it can do this, Facebook's far greater resources and reach give it the upper hand over Twitter.