David Brake

It’s now four months since a bag of sweets almost toppled UFC Lightweight Interim Champion Conor McGregor on our mobile live stream audiences table. A lot has changed since then. We’ve had two days of hot weather, England have won the Ashes and the live streaming game has evolved once more. What used be a straight shootout between ‘underdog’ Meerkat and ‘goliath’ Periscope is no longer. It’s not a two horse race anymore. It’s not enough to have a bag of Haribo. With David Beckham, 50 Cent, and The Rock backing contenders for the ultimate live streaming platform, it’s uncertain who will emerge victorious.

The process of live streaming is now common practice for most sports teams. Just this Friday night, Munster broadcast their entire pre-season game against Grenoble live on Periscope. Fortunately in four 20 minute blocks, but kudos to the cameraman’s arm strength and patience. It’s a fairly cool achievement, but was it any good? It was a bit shaky, and the glaring sun did not aid the view but it offered an interesting alternative to fans not present at the game. For Munster, the most popular stream was the final nail biting quarter with 497 live viewers. Hardly mind blowing, but when the average match attendance in 2014-15 is around 13,500, that equates to almost 4%, and remember it’s only live for a short period of time and relies on other social/digital promotion so as a conversion rate… perhaps not so bad.

Following their explosions onto the scene earlier this year, Periscope and Meerkat became the ‘must use’ platform. Take the Premier League where 14 of the 20 clubs have a profile on the platform. Look closer, and you’ll see that only Crystal Palace and Man City broadcast this weekend. So what is the latest? How has the plucky Meerkat performed against Twitter’s Periscope? Well here’s the before graph (March 21 to April 20 2015) from our earlier blog.

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The above graph showed that Periscope’s arrival had initiated a clear decline in activity for Meerkat. Daily links fell from nearly 30,000 on 25 March to 6,600 daily links just a month later. Meanwhile Periscope enjoyed a spike of 49,953 tweets in its opening weekend. A strong box office opening.

Moving the action to the present day, here’s the same Topsy graph for both platforms for the last 30 days.

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The trend did not lie. It is a vast divide; Meerkat now has a daily average of 5,390 tweets per day. On the other side of the coin, Periscope has lived true to its name. Their numbers have gone up and up from 16,958 tweets per day to a far healthier average figure of 69,932. Sale to and promotion by Twitter won’t have harmed, of course. Placing this into context, it’s worth comparing them again to the Huffington Post. The New York based publication is now below Periscope; this may be the result of a general decline in traffic, but is a fascinating change in just four months.

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Decline does not equate to death for Meerkat. The latest development that allows for live streaming via GoPro is intriguing. Still, the divide is widening and Meerkat is on the back foot.

So is live streaming a winner and Periscope the anointed one? If the numbers are anything to go by, yes. Just this week they hit the impressive milestone of 10 million registered users in just 13 weeks of operation. Better yet, Periscope enjoys approximately 40 years of daily watch-time from its iOS and Android apps. With landscape mode in the works, spam increasingly filtered out, and a fast forward option for replays upcoming, they’re on a roll.

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MyEye

Now the power of the celebrity comes in to spoil the party. Let’s begin with former England football captain, David Beckham.

As you might expect, the footballer-turned-global superstar receives 101 offers to join the ‘next big thing’. So when he invested in new live streaming app MyEye, our interest piqued. This platform, created by Britain’s Mark Betterridge and Lee Musgrave, offers an exciting third option. Why is it different and/or better?

The main difference is that streams last up to 72 hours, compared to Periscope’s 24. It also features a story function, akin to Snapchat, whereby users can watch streams in one go. Like in Snapchat’s recent update, MyEye claims to have engineered a compression and streaming solution to conserve data. Finding streams seems a lot easier than on Periscope and you can curate privacy settings based on geography and followers. With Arsenal’s Calum Chambers, and Hollywood’s Jared Leto and Liv Tyler on board, this cannot be easily ignored. So let’s check the statistics of Meerkat vs. Periscope vs. MyEye.

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Things are not taking off yet, but it is early days and Periscope has early-mover advantage. As celebrities showcase how to use the platform, others will follow. Now this is where Facebook chimes in.

Facebook has been noticeably quiet on the livestreaming craze. On August 5th, it entered the game with “Live“. This feature is within its Mentions platform and only available to individuals with a verified page. These stars of the digital screen can start a Live broadcast on their News Feed, watch comments in real-time, and create a permanent record of the event. That last fact is important. As Vadim Lavrusik, the Live product manager, told TechCrunch, “53 percent of Facebook video views come from re-shares, which would probably happen after a broadcast ends”. One problem is that viewers rewatching the stream will see comments below rather on screen – perhaps a disjointing experience.

So now what? Facebook Live, MyEye and even Hang W/ – a platform used by 50 Cent with 1 million users under its belt – are interesting additions to the live streaming landscape. With leading lights showing how to use these platforms, there could be an increasing prominence of them in our lives. The same values remain from our April analysis that an investment of time, energy and creativity is the best way forward if you’re trying to find the ultimate way to engage audiences.

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