Tumblr’s live video strategy is syndicating services like YouTube and YouNow

Instead of rolling out its own live video product, Tumblr will let people syndicate their live streams from YouTube, YouNow, AOL's Kanvas and Betaworks-backed Upclose.

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People will be able to cross-post their livestreams from YouTube, YouNow, Kanvas and Upclose to Tumblr.

People will be able to cross-post their live streams from YouTube, YouNow, Kanvas and Upclose to Tumblr.

No, Tumblr isn’t rolling out its own live video service to match Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope. Instead, it’s going to syndicate the live streams people are uploading through other platforms.

Starting on Tuesday, people will be able to cross-post their live streams from YouTube, YouNow, AOL’s Kanvas and Betaworks-backed Upclose to Tumblr. Their Tumblr followers will then be able to watch the live stream within their Tumblr dashboard (the Yahoo-owned social network’s version of Facebook’s news feed and Twitter’s timeline).

When someone cross-posts a live stream to Tumblr — or when they reblog someone else’s live video cross-posted to Tumblr — their Tumblr followers will receive a push notification directing them to the live video. Tumblr is also propping up live video within people’s dashboards a la Facebook by pinning live streams from people they follow atop their dashboard while those streams are live. And if someone saves their recording on the initial live streaming platform, it will be converted into a video post on Tumblr so that Tumblr followers who missed the live version can replay it.

Tumblr isn’t yet rolling out a way to make money from these syndicated live streams. That might be symptomatic of its decision to not roll out its own live streaming product, which could have included a way for people to configure a campaign to promote a live stream once they go live. Instead, these third-party live streams will be shared to Tumblr the same way someone might have their Instagram set up to share their photos to Facebook or Twitter. Maybe Tumblr could get people, including brands and publishers, to pay to run the archived live streams as promoted videos on Tumblr — assuming Tumblr is able to prove it’d be worth doing so — but Tumblr isn’t saying whether that’s the plan.

Even though Tumblr is piggybacking other live streaming services, it is trying to be a bit more than just somewhere else to catch these streams. The company is working with Mashable, Refinery29, MTV and The Huffington Post to promote their live streams across Tumblr’s “owned channels,” according to a Tumblr spokesperson who declined to say how exactly Tumblr will be promoting those live streams.

There is no money changing hands between Tumblr and the platforms it’s syndicating from or the publishers whose live streams it will be promoting, according to the Tumblr spokesperson.

Tumblr has scheduled some initial live streams that leaked out on Monday and will post to its own Tumblr blog on Tuesday afternoon. Those planned live streams — like inflating a balloon in a small room and organizing things — seem to be as much a parody of popular live programming as indicative of the fact that live video remains a very new and very weird thing that people are still figuring out.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

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