“Broadly speaking, we think about YouTube being synonymous with video…live has always been a part of video, and it’s actually always a very exciting part.” — Manuel Bronstein, head of product for consumers at YouTube
Live streaming video is one of the hottest modalities in getting out your message today. It is currently taking the Internet by storm as platforms like Periscope, the all but dead Meerkat, Blab, Facebook Live and others pop up left and right, drawing stellar engagement numbers and potentially massive audiences. Live streaming video has become such an integral part of marketing recently because of the benefits it provides; transparency, genuine connections and face-to-face interaction. And in the midst of all the hype, a new competitor has entered the arena: YouTube Connect.
While coverage over the past year or so has been squarely focused on the variety of newcomers to the live streaming game, Google has been quietly developing its own mobile solution as a rebuttal. And while YouTube does already offer live streaming services through its Creator Studio, access and features are limited. YouTube Connect is set to be a standalone mobile application much like many other existing products in the space.
There is currently no set release date for the upcoming app, however, some have made the keen observation that launching the product at Google’s I/O developer conference in May seem quite likely. To help generate buzz for the release, YouTube is expected to partner with its most influential stars, much like Facebook did for the release of Facebook Live.
While there has been no confirmation from Google or YouTube as to how the app might work or what features it may hold, reports have been spreading that it will operate much in the same way that Periscope or Facebook Live do. Users will most likely launch the app, log in with Google or YouTube, and begin watching YouTubers stream videos live. And, of course, watching videos will not be its sole purpose as broadcasting from the application will also be supported. Additionally, live chat and tagging features along with “news feeds” of the latest videos from friends and those you have subscribed to will also be implemented. There are also rumors that the videos streamed on the network would become available on the main YouTube website; a feature that makes tons of sense to incorporate.
YouTube Connect is also reported to allow users to store previous broadcasts for an indefinite (possibly infinite) amount of time, effectively making replays available for those who were not able to participate in the first go around. There is currently no word on if the app will support integration with Facebook or Twitter as both platforms are direct rivals. When the app is released, it will be available to both Android and iOS users.
This move to develop YouTube Connect should come as a surprise to no one. YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing platform with an unparalleled amount of user-generated content. Adding this element of live streaming for all users, along with the ability to interact through chat, is very much the way that online video has been unfolding, and this new addition to the YouTube family will only make it that much more valuable.
Another reason this development has been watched for is that Google is not known for playing second fiddle to anyone. Facebook and Snapchat have been stealing headlines with their live streaming implementations; Snapchat even managed to reach eight billion daily video views, effectively going toe-to-toe with Facebook. With all of this attention focused on video competitors, YouTube was sure to strike back.
But with many businesses already establishing presences on other live streaming channels, how exactly will YouTube Connect affect those brands?
For those that have managed to build devout followings through other live streaming services, there is an ominous feeling in the air. YouTube is virtually unrivaled in the digital video arena. It has even managed to transcend its prominence as merely a video platform to become the second largest search engine the world over. Dependent on how intuitive the user interface is, the features it incorporates, and how devoted individuals truly are to Periscope, Blab, Facebook, and the other players, YouTube Connect may just decimate large portions of the competition.
YouTube is already a globally prominent household name with some of the biggest stars in the universe. Influencers with millions of followers already reside on the channel, and will happily promote a new modality of interacting with their fans on a deeper, more intimate level. The harsh reality is that YouTube Connect may dominate the competition much in the same way that it does for video content, or that its parent company, Google, does in the world of search.
If you do not already create video content on YouTube, or if you are not promoting your YouTube presence via all social channels including live streaming, now is the time to start. If you haven’t jumped into the world of live streams, it would be a wise tactic to study up on the technique, and use YouTube Connect as your launching platform.
YouTube Connect will officially be released to the masses this year. Watch for the big guns of YouTube celebrities to join forces and promote this exciting new offering, drive additional traffic to their own channels, and crush the competition in its path.
Do you think YouTube Connect will be able to best all competitors? Or do you think the Periscope and Facebook Live followings will remain dedicated to their channel of choice?