In a move that probably won't surprise anyone, Twitter has announced that you can now 'go live' from within Twitter, with Periscope functionality wholly integrated into the process.
We're making it easier for you to share what's happening in your world. Now you can #GoLive on Twitter!https://t.co/frWuHaPTFJ pic.twitter.com/Xpfpk1zWJV- Twitter (@twitter) December 14, 2016
The difference may seem minor, but it's an important step, and one many (including us) had predicted. And while Periscope will continue to operate as a separate entity for now, the merging of the two could suggest that the app's days are numbered, at least as a standalone platform.
Of course, you've been able to go live from Twitter, in a way, for a while - Twitter added a Periscope button back in June, making it easier to begin a live broadcast from within Twitter. The catch is that when you tap on the button, you're taken to Periscope - and if you don't have a Periscope account you're taken to the sign-up screen.
This new process means live functionality is wholly hosted within Twitter - now, when you tap that 'live' button, you're taken direct to a pre-broadcast screen where you can enter the relevant details then begin your broadcast in-stream.
Go live straight from Twitter. Watch this video to learn how. #GoLive pic.twitter.com/tk09VOdr4t- Twitter Video (@video) December 15, 2016
As you can see at the end of the clip, you'll still have the full Periscope functionality, including 'hearts', you're still using Periscope, essentially. But you're also not.
To be clear - you'll no longer need to download Periscope to live-stream, it'll all be available within the Twitter app alone. One of the biggest criticisms of Periscope over time has been that users are effectively forced to download another app in order to broadcast and/or watch live-stream content. The directly integrated functionality streamlines the process, making it easier to create and promote your live content via tweet, which could see more people taking it up.
In testing, it seems that the live-stream content you create within Twitter is currently being saved to Periscope but no where else on your Twitter profile - i.e. it's not showing up in your 'Media' listing with other photo/video content you've uploaded. This means you likely still need a Periscope account to keep and manage your content, at least at this stage.
The merging of of the process into Twitter makes sense, particularly given Facebook doesn't have a separate app for their live-stream element. The benefit of this is that all your content is available in one place, within one app, so you don't have to refer people to different platforms and tools to view it. It also makes it easier to showcase all your posts - live or otherwise - under one profile. Really, it's a little surprising it's taken Twitter this long to integrate the two.
And that's the thing - despite today's announcement, it's possible that Twitter's already missed the boat on live-streaming for the masses. Data released by Socialbakers last month showed Facebook Live has already moved well ahead of Periscope in terms of usage - which makes sense, given Facebook's scale, though the direct integration of Facebook Live into the main app has also, no doubt, played a part.
Given this, it would seem more likely that people will be gravitating more to Facebook for live-stream content in future, particularly as Facebook continues the wider roll out of its dedicated video tab in the app.
Even more than that, reports today have suggested that Facebook's currently in talks with TV studios and video producers about licensing exclusive content on the platform, with programming that could include scripted shows, game shows and sports programming. This is likely to be the next stage of live-streaming - thus far, one of the key impediments in the wider adoption of streaming has been content quality, with the core issue being, as noted by former Blab CEO Shan Puuri, that "most live-streams suck".
If the content available isn't interesting, people stop coming back - that's the issue that saw both Blab and Meerkat struggle to create repeat broadcasters and boost viewership, eventually leading to each platform's demise. To counter this, Twitter's inked deals with sports broadcasters, live-streaming NFL matches and major events, while Facebook's been signing up celebrities to have them create exclusive Live content. The idea behind this is that if they can build a significant audience for live-streaming, that'll make it a more compelling entertainment option, which, in turn, will attract more audience, more creators and ultimately, more ad dollars over time.
Often when looking at live-streaming, people fail to see this bigger picture - brands are looking at the immediate applications, at what value the option can provide right now, which makes sense, we all want faster returns for our efforts. But in future, live-streaming is set to become a much bigger consideration. For example, both Twitter and Facebook have released new options which enable users to cast video content direct from their apps to their home TV screens. It's limited to people who have additional devices like Apple TV, sure, but imagine if it wasn't restricted, if anyone, even those with no technical knowledge, could watch Twitter or Facebook Live content in crisp HD on their TV screen.
Now imagine if Facebook started airing a new TV show that you wanted to watch - better yet, imagine they started streaming a range of new TV shows, one with your favorite celebrity as host, a new live comedy show akin to 'Saturday Night Live', a breakfast TV program. All of these would be available for free via Facebook Live, and all could be viewed as easily as switching a channel on your TV.
If they get the programming right, this could be huge - and then, imagine if, in the recommended viewing alongside these popular programs, you could have your brand's live-stream content listed, targeted to exactly the right audience, based on Facebook's interest targeting. When you look at it this way, it's not so hard to see why the platforms are so keen on live-streaming - they see it as, potentially, a genuine competitor for TV.
Of course, YouTube also have their own live streaming push, and Facebook's angling to the next level, launching 360 degree streams earlier this week, which could become the future of TV viewing (after watching 360 streams, static video will get annoying when you're restricted to only the broadcaster's perspective). But all of that starts from the base of getting people more accustomed to streaming, and to consuming streamed content, which is easier when all of your live content is gathered in one place.
The integration of Periscope into Twitter makes sense in this regard, though it won't be long till Twitter needs to fully integrate all of Periscope into one main platform. Moving on from Vine was the first step towards this, towards streamlining their business. Expect Periscope to fully transition into 'Twitter live' in 2017.