All of now apps like Meerkat and Twitter-owned Periscope have made live streaming mainstream. Recording and live streaming the same via mobile is a concept that isn’t new. In early 2011, Skype had bought a mobile video startup Qik, which at that point of time had a user base of 5 million. Compared to Qik, what Meerkat and Periscope are offering isn’t ground breaking but today these apps have the potential to reach the mainstream.
Meerkat, an app that allows users to conduct live broadcasts became the most talked about app during this year’s SXSW 2015. The app allows users to start live-streaming from their smartphone to all of their Twitter (and Meerkat) followers; it gained massive press attention when Twitter tried to regulate it.
Meerkat that solely depends on Twitter had to face the brunt as Twitter decided to cut off Meerkat’s ability to port people’s social networks over from Twitter to its own service — the so-called social graph. That means when new users come on board, they will no longer be automatically connected to the other people they are already following on Twitter.
The move of limiting access by Twitter went on to prove good for Meerkat. Right after Twitter limited the access, the app continued its double digit growth trajectory. The month-old app recently surpassed the 400,000 user mark and it has also raised $12 million with a valuation of $52 million.
Twitter’s concern was natural since it recently bought Periscope, a live streaming video app that’s been in beta since the company acquired it back in January reportedly for $100 million. Periscope, that has the ability to stream live audio and video from a user’s smartphone that other people can watch and comment on within the app, went live recently. Only available on iOS for now, the free app provides immediate competition to Meerkat.
The two apps work more or less in a similar way, but the initial verdict states that while Meerkat’s got the buzz, Periscope is more polished. However, this hasn’t stopped publishers and brands from exploring both the apps.
Yahoo News has been quick to embrace Meerkat, where it conducted an interview with South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune about Net neutrality. Oregon State University has been using Meerkat to broadcast head football coach Gary Anderson’s press conferences. Brands including JCPenney and Starbucks have also started using Meerkat.
With the growing number of downloads of Meerkat, brands like Red Bull, Starbucks, the Miami Dolphins and BuzzFeed are already testing the app. BuzzFeed recently used Meerkat to live-stream the vigil for Zayn Malik—a teen-driven, OMG reaction to the pop singer leaving the group One Direction.
In fact, 27-year-old Meerkat’s CEO, Ben Rubin shared with DigiDay that Meerkat’s true potential will be realized once there is another breaking-news event as significant as the protests that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, this past summer. He foresees Meerkat as a means for conducting live, on-the-ground citizen journalism. Already CNNTech is using the app as an educational platform.
Periscope, which has been a little late to the party hasn’t disappointed brands. Red Bull and HBO are already on Periscope, as are a number of news publishers including NBC’s Today Show, Huffington Post, Vox and USA Today.
The Verge recently used Periscope for a demo comparing the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones. The video brought in more than 400 live viewers.
In addition to brands, Twitter has tapped in celebrities to try out the app, including Aaron Paul, Mary J. Blige and Adam Shapiro. Celebrity love for Meerkat has been also growing, stars like Jimmy Fallon Jared Leto, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Jonas, Madonna, among others are already playing around with the app.
These are the early days for both – Meerkat and Periscope, so it is for the brands. “Having played with Periscope, however, I found it dialed up the real-time social interaction—picking up Meerkat’s ball and running with it,” said Julian March, SVP of editorial and innovation at NBC News, which is already using Periscope and Meerkat.
Sam Sheffer, social media manager at The Verge thinks that Periscope could be a Meerkat killer. “The main difference between Meerkat and Periscope is that Periscope broadcasts can be watched for up to 24 hours after they end. Oftentimes, you’d open a Meerkat only to find a dead stream with no way of replaying it. We were hesitant to Meerkat from our Twitter account because of the lack of replays. Dead streams are bad.”
While both the apps have cracked the software level, they need to have better user interface and finding interesting streams. From a marketer’s point of view, the apps will have to have more creative abilities and social distribution.
These are early days for both Meerkat and Periscope; with conversations becoming more real time, video innovations are bound to happen in the space. Hopefully, the phase of #fridgeview and #showusyourfridge regularly popping up during live streaming events on Periscope will also pass away.
Image credit: Time