Going Live: The Evolution of Livestreaming

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Earlier this year, Facebook Live finally became available on the social media website’s desktop platform. Before this development, which required Facebook’s top techies to tweak many core functions, this service was only available on the Facebook app and not to everyone. Oh boy, has that changed. While you have undoubtedly had to turn off notifications for a few of your friends or pages that are a little too stream-happy, there’s no denying that this is an impressive leap in technology, social media and culture as a whole.

That said, Facebook Live is by no means an unprecedented endeavor. At first, livestreaming was restricted to primitive radio broadcasts that could only just be carried across our limited bandwidths, so it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the first live online video was shared. After this initial stream of the Tibetan Freedom Concert, President Bill Clinton soon began streaming Townhall events and the ball was officially rolling.

For many years now, sites like YouTube and Twitch have been hosting live chats, lets plays and a variety of other creative, social broadcasts that can be recorded, viewed and interacted with by anyone with an Internet connection. More recently, more advanced software like Meerkat and Periscope managed to make this service more accessible than ever.

This technology isn’t restricted to social media either, as industries such as iGaming have been livestreaming for years. Online casino operators like bgo use streaming to broadcast live roulette online to their players, thus creating a more interactive, immersive and overall interesting experience for their patrons. While during your average online roulette game players pick their colour or number, let the ball roll and repeat, live roulette dealers ensure a visual and social experience as well, similar to the games held in land-based casinos but with the convenience of being online. Live games of this sort have proved so popular that there are now sites based entirely on offering it to customers such as Online Roulette and Super Casino.

Really, the only big difference that Facebook Live has made to the industry is that many live broadcasts are bound to reach far more viewers than its predecessors. For instance, Twitter’s livestreaming service Periscope has access to the site’s 136 million daily active users, but that is nowhere near Facebook Live’s potential audience of 1.09 billion active daily users. Sure, every live stream won’t reach the entirety of Facebook’s massive audience but there’s the potential there, meaning that the days of one-off, expensive livestreaming are officially over.

So, what do these recent developments mean for livestreaming in general? As the tech becomes more mainstream we can almost guarantee that more companies will begin broadcasting a wider range events. This is inevitable, as Facebook has already handed out over 140 contracts to celebrities, imploring them to broadcast exclusively on their new service. Already almost everything from sporting events to giraffes giving birth is being livestreamed on Facebook, where else is there to go?

The nearest development is probably going to focus more on quality than the topic of the broadcast, as streams are not quite seamless yet. Once this is accomplished, online sites will probably begin integrating live video content into the very framework of their sites, which in turn will lead mobile carriers to begin loosening those bandwidth reins. Or at least we hope they do.

These are all just assumptions, but there is one thing that is absolutely certain: livestreaming is here to stay.

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Pop Culture BeastGoing Live: The Evolution of Livestreaming