People can’t get enough of live streaming content.
Over the past year, Facebook audiences have bared witness to live governmental sit-ins, the birth of a new life, and a kaleidoscope of other human experiences that would normally be reserved for only those in attendance.
While services like Facebook Live and Periscope have always been restricted to mobile devices, the world’s largest social network has upped the ante with its March 22 announcement that users can now live stream right from their desktop computers.
The feature, which Facebook has been testing since September, is the latest effort from the social network to entice new creators to join the platform and boost live video viewership.
The newly enabled desktop abilities will allow streamers to produce higher-quality streams by eliminating shakiness by utilizing the computer’s webcam; this will be especially useful for those looking to hold Q&A sessions, film vlogs, and even produce live webinars on the platform.
More professional services like the aforementioned webinars become a viable option thanks to Facebook’s inclusion of the ability to link external equipment and software to the desktop stream.
This means that creators can add on-screen graphics, overlays, switch cameras, and even share screens during streamed events.
While Facebook previously had limited streaming partnerships with game developers like Blizzard, enabling the company’s entire user base to access the technology opens the doors for Facebook to go head-to-head with Amazon-owned Twitch.
According to Twitch, the company currently boasts around 9.7 million daily active users with more than two million unique streamers per month. Additionally, the company proclaims that its 17,000 partner program members enable its content creators to generate revenue from their streams.
Facebook, however, aggressively targeted the gaming community in its blog post announcing the desktop streaming release, stating:
“If you’re a gamer, this new feature makes it easier than ever to stream your PC gameplay to friends and followers and engage with them while you play.”
These new features are also ideal for small business owners who can’t afford to employ a webinar platform with all the fancy bells and whistles. Desktop streaming effectively allows broadcasters to turn their live event into a monetized webinar.
By hooking up external software, business owners can create a comparable experience through screen sharing, camera switching, and having a “moderator” place relevant links in the comments to drive traffic and sales at particular times. And when these events are streamed to a Group or Event page, the experience still feels just as exclusive and personal as it would otherwise.
Additionally, company leaders can create more polished video content for their followers through live streams.
Businesses can hold live Q&A sessions (which will provide benefit in their own right) can later be edited to become a video-FAQ for a website. Vlogs, webinars and product tutorials can be streamed and then shared across YouTube and even embedded on websites to increase engagement and site time. The professional looking content can also be segmented to create various adverts.
For a completely free-to-use tool, business owners are gaining a ridiculous amount of value.
When an individual does opt to go live from their desktop computer, users are presented with the option to stream directly to a page, event, group, or just straight to their Newsfeed. And on that note. . .
How to Go Live from a Computer
Starting a Live stream on a desktop is quite similar to doing so from a mobile device.
Users will find the ‘Live Video’ icon in the top right corner of their status update bar.
From there, everything is about the same; choose your settings and add your video description.
If you want to stream using third-party content, however, users will need to undergo a setup process and start the live stream from this “Go Live with Your Gear” page.
The first thing users will need to do is select the third-party software they wish to use, such as OBS, Wirecast, or XSplit.
Next, the page will ask users to select where they want to share the video (their timeline, a friend’s timeline, a group page, an event page, or on a page the user manages). The page also gives users the option to stream a 360-degree video.
Finally, streamers will enter a description (optional), the video title, the video game title that will be streamed, and a server URL or stream key from the streaming software.
A preview screen will then appear. Press ‘Go Live’ and everything will then run the same way it does on mobile; users can react and comment and the video will be saved when the broadcast ends.
Additionally, when setting up your stream with third-party gear, Facebook does make a mild request by stating:
“Don’t put third-party video ads in your live video. For example, don’t include bumpers, pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll. Ensure any pre-recorded content is clearly distinguishable from live content.”
This is a huge step for Facebook, but certainly not the last as it continues implementing the overall video-first plan.
Facebook and the Future of Video
Mark Zuckerberg’s obsession with video is no secret. In fact, the company’s CEO has been quoted as saying, “. . . we see a world that is video first, with video at the heart of all of our apps and services. . .”
It has been noted many times before that Facebook intends to evolve into a video-focused platform. On 2016’s fourth quarter earnings call for Facebook, Zuckerberg stated that he sees, “. . . video as a mega trend. . . We’re focusing more on shorter form content to start. . .” He continued by saying, “. . . over the longer term . . . people will experiment with longer forms of video as well as all kinds of different things.”
Additionally, Zuckerberg also commented on Facebook’s long-term video-focused business plan by saying that increased viewership could attract “…the best episodic content.”
It is clear that Facebook is immensely interested in diversifying its video portfolio by giving its audience access to a variety of video and streaming tools, attracting more digital content creators, and even entering the realm of television.
None of this is all that far-fetched either when you consider that Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, has sat on Facebook’s board since 2011.
While Facebook has a long way to go before completely dominating the digital video market, it is clearly making long strides in achieving that goal.
In the meantime, Facebook’s live video content is likely to skyrocket thanks to the ability to now stream from mobile and desktop devices.
Do you think Facebook will one day rule video content? What other live streaming features are you hoping to see from the company?