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Video: Facebook Live and the State of Live UGC Video

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Almost Live here at Streaming Media West 2016 in Huntington Beach. Today I have with me Omer Luzatti, head of the video platform at Yahoo. Let's talk about some trends, beginning with social media with live video content. Last year at Streaming Media West, you talked about the streams you'd done for the NFL. Of course Twitter picked those up. We've got Facebook Live, we've got Snap doing some things. Where do you see that going?

Omer Luzatti: We see much more live than video. We start to see UGC live and how the big media companies start to embrace that tech solution and to use it. That is fascinating. In terms of the UGC part of it--mainly Facebook trying to go to the individuals and just show yourself when you are playing to yourself and when you are playing to a family--that seems not to be that successful at the moment, in terms of how many viewers are watching. On the other hand, the adoption of the big media, the news, the politics, sports, and so on, that seems to be evolving really fast.

Tim Siglin: It almost seems like the mainstream media, the traditional media, is either solidifying the base for Facebook, or to a certain extent, giving them a credibility that they may not have had on their own, because it seems like they're frequently in news broadcasts now. Such and such is on Facebook Live; here's a clip of what was shown. Is that just because of the power of the brand of Facebook, or is that because of the way that Facebook's doing the technological part.

Omer Luzatti: It's a great question. The technology was there even in the past with smaller companies, but until Facebook came and put Facebook Live out there, that wasn't very successful. Most of these smaller companies become niche companies trying to find their place now. If it's personal type of UGC things, some of them try to go after sports or minor leagues.

Tim Siglin: Right. It's sort of niche market for sports and that type of thing. You're setting up primarily for live, not for on-demand, but of course we had Vine, which they've just done away with, which was essentially small snippets. Do you think the decision to do away with that was because it didn't fit into the extended live model of 30 to 90-minute live events?

Omer Luzatti: Seems to me that brings another beast to the table, which is Snapchat. They took this VOD, small UGC out there. The way that Snapchat sees themselves is obviously as the future media company of this type of clips.

Tim Siglin: Of the short clips.

Omer Luzatti: I wonder what they will do with live, because are they going to compete with Facebook on live UGC and so on, that's probably they will try something.

Tim Siglin: Let's step back from the specific companies and let me ask a trend question. I was a professor, so I had Facebook long before most people my age did. Of course, at that point it was essentially posting some still images and a whole lot of text. Then the ability to post video came along, and now we have the ability to do live video. Do we see that as a trend that the younger social media companies, Twitter, Snap, and others, have to work their way up to being able to do live, or do you suspect we'll have new entrance to the market, but we'll start with live video?

Omer Luzatti: I think it's very much tied to social today, and I think it probably would be something like Snapchat. What they're doing is kind of a new way to consume the media. You click, you move channels really fast.\

Is that going to work with live? We need a little more engagement between the viewer and the content. That is a big unknown.

Tim Siglin: Then I think the second question is how do we scale live? One of the benefits Facebook has is they essentially can keep it all within their domain. If they suddenly start, like Yahoo did back in the day, curating live video from multiple locations, the limitation there is it can only scale to the weakest link in the entire chain.

Omer Luzatti: Scaling is a completely different topic, and it very much depends on what type of video streaming you are doing. When you're talking, for example if you talk about Facebook or Yahoo, when you talk about streaming to the millions, you have a completely different requirement on delay. You have different requirements on how you would like to propagate the data and so on. That enables you to scale better, but it affects for example the start time, it may affect obviously the delay from the talk. As of today, you can think of it as at least 2 different categories of live streaming in terms of scaling. One has millions and millions of channels, but each one of them go to 5, 10, 12, people, versus 10 channels going to the millions. Different technologies, different views of CDNs, different caching strategies.

Tim Siglin: Sure, quality of service, caching, latencies, that type of thing. Great. Omer, I appreciate you coming by and talking. This has been Almost Live here at Streaming Media West 2016.

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