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SME 2016: Is Facebook Winning the Live Streaming Game?

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With all the activity in the live social streaming space now, it's easy for content creators to feel overwhelmed by the choices. However, Facebook seems to be emerging quickly as the leader in the space—at least that was the consensus in the "How Live Streaming is Changing Content Creation" panel at Streaming Media East.

"If you forced me to pick…I would say Facebook Live hands down is being underrated," said Mario Armstrong, NBC TODAY Show digital lifestyle contributor, who also gave a presentation at the conference on live social broadcasting.

Drew Lesicko, GM and product director at AOL Alpha echoed that sentiment: "If Facebook introduces a new technology we stop on a dime and rethink what we're doing...If they want to win, they will win because they have 2 billion people on their platform…It makes sense for us to pivot to where they are going."

In other words, publishers of any sort—including video content creators—cannot afford to ignore Facebook and need to follow its lead. That may mean starting to think more about virtual reality as Facebook invests more in that technology, as Serge Kassardjian, Google's global head of Android/Play media apps and Android TV content partnerships, pointed out in the earlier "Building OTT Success: Improving Video Engagement" panel.

As the stats around live social streaming continue to blow VOD out of the water—growing faster and keeping viewers' attention longer—content creators are often left wondering why these off-the-cuff, unscripted videos are so popular. "The thing about live streaming that a lot of people have figured out…is that the relationships that are being created through livestreaming are happening way, way faster," said Armstrong.

In many ways this sentiment echoes the conversation around social media in general. Any time you can reach out to your audience through social channels, and allow them to interact with you in real time, you can build a relationship more quickly. That being said, the ease and generally high quality of livestreaming content generated by users can present a challenge to more traditional content providers.

For instance, the panel discussed whether people in the crowd livestreaming a football game may eventually pose a problem for the networks—or even the licensed livestreaming providers—also showing that content. As usual, the key to winning that battle comes down to quality content. Wayne Sieve, CEO of EverSport says, "Will amateur programming compete with the game itself? Absolutely…It's on the content creator to create something engaging, and make it interesting."

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