After a most lively year, where does live video go in 2017?
As live video continues to rise in popularity, how will it evolve this year? Columnist Fritz Brumder shares his predictions on the tools and innovations we should expect to see in 2017.
In 2016, most major social media platforms launched live-video streaming capabilities; Twitch moved beyond video games; and tween-girl must-have Musical.ly launched Live.ly. Big brands started aggressively using live-video tools to connect with customers through their own sites, and smaller platforms such as YouNow.com forged ahead, even as pioneering app Meerkat left the fight. Live video in 2016 was, to put it mildly, nuts.
With all this activity, 2017 will be hard-pressed to top its predecessor. But it’s also likely we will see a bigger, more diverse and capable universe of live-video programming and tools this year — and perhaps even more innovation, now that so many platforms and capabilities are available and audiences are learning to look for these experiences.
If 2016 was the Year of Live’s Launch, 2017 will be the Year of Live’s Mainstreaming.
Millions of people are learning to create live video, and more importantly, watching the live programming they find. They enjoy the power, immediacy and authenticity of live video, whether it’s on their mobile device, their desktop or other platforms.
As a result, creators, publishers and brands will have even more opportunity to connect with consumers, employees and suppliers through programming that builds their bottom lines.
So, where is live video heading? Below are some of our predictions:
New tools will make it easier to network multiple smartphones for live broadcasts, making possible not just new kinds of programming, but transforming the news business.
The ability to nimbly stream an event from multiple perspectives, and switch between them, will take live video to another level of power and immersiveness.
Some of these tools allow a producer to control switching between cameras; other tools will let viewers choose their favored perspective. Think of it as crowdsourced live video, particularly useful at events such as concerts, political rallies and protests.
News organizations in particular will adopt emerging tools that let them pull together multiple live streams from a big event to more completely cover an unfolding story, switching among those streams in real time while giving audiences the power to choose their own view of the proceedings.
Brands go big on their own terms
The chance to connect directly and compellingly with consumers attracted more and more smart brands in 2016, particularly as their traditional audiences on pay TV, radio and print continued to erode. In 2017, brands will still spend plenty on those traditional platforms, but they’ll increasingly turn to live online video to reach customers directly.
Importantly, brands won’t just rely on someone else’s platform as they move into live streaming. Instead, they’ll incorporate live onto their own branded online sites, short-cutting both traditional media companies and the big social media platforms.
They will have more control over the experience and far deeper knowledge about their visitors, information they can use to build a long-term consumer relationship of extraordinary depth.
More kinds of branded live experiences
At Brandlive (my employer) and elsewhere, we’ve already seen significant investments by big brands such as Walmart and Nike’s Air Jordans, which added live video to their broader marketing mix. But expect that programming to evolve in ambitious ways as companies expand their use of live video for:
• communicating company values and internal messaging, building esprit de corps and ensuring consistent training and processes for their far-flung base of employees.
• building richer connections with customers. Imagine the home shopping networks of the cable TV world, but now with superpowers. They’ll have more interactivity, easy sales conversion and deep knowledge about each specific audience member.
There will be shopping shows and auctions, product announcements and showcases, and programming that shows how to more fully take advantage of their products and those of their partners.
• creating closer relationships with suppliers and distributors. For many companies, communicating their core values and messages to their partners can be complicated and challenging. Live video gives them powerful new ways to build connection and interaction, ensuring better products and relationships.
More programmed live video shows
The TV networks have created annual event viewing around streaming musicals live. It’s among the few kinds of programming left in traditional linear TV that drives appointment viewing, higher ad sales and buzzy social media interest.
Now, take that experience, with the potential for mistakes and in-the-moment magic, and the kinds of audiences attracted by that potential, and you can see why we expect other programming, even on traditional linear TV, to go live.
Better promotion tools
The social media platforms typically notify audiences about a live broadcast just as it begins. As more live programming becomes scheduled, potential audiences will need more lead time to prepare to watch.
The live-streaming platforms need to do a better job of allowing live events to be scheduled and promoted in advance to help build the stars of the future.
In 2016, Facebook put up $50 million to pay 140 creators and publishers to experiment widely in live video, the first time the social media giant has paid creators for anything. Expect more money, particularly from ad revenue sharing, to come into the business for creators on all the social-media platforms, at least if those platforms want to continue to have creators working there.
Other sites are experimenting with other monetization approaches. Twitch, for instance, has long allowed audiences to “tip” stars directly through a virtual currency. Musical.ly does the same, and incorporated the payment mechanism into Live.ly. This direct relationship between fan and performer will finance new kinds of stars, and it will likely change the way some live programs are structured.
Live video aggregator apps
What could be easier than finding all your live content in one place? In the same way that Apple TV and Roku aggregate services for prerecorded streaming media, an app that connects you to all your live video streams across various social and other channels would provide a similar ease of access and supercharge the live experience.
Live virtual reality and 360-degree video
This is already happening, but will become exponentially more popular as the cameras and other production tools for such experiences get smarter, smaller, more powerful, easier to use and cheaper. And creative minds will learn how to fully exploit those tools to create more immersive experiences that put viewers right in the action.
Expect lots of missteps, but a year or two of experience also will yield some stunning new viewing options.
Are we certain that all of these will come into fruition this year? No. But we’re confident the future of live video is vast and headed down these paths. And that’s pretty freaking cool.