Television, as we know it, is changing. It's not a massive, all-in-one switch, it's not something that's going to mean an immediate alteration to your consumption habits overnight. But the shift is definitely in progress, and steady progress at that.
I'm talking, of course, about live-streaming and the many ways in which the latest social media offering is infiltrating the wider media landscape. This was highlighted most recently by the coverage of the protests and gun violence related incidents in the US, including the House of Representatives sit in, which was broadcast on Periscope after C-SPAN lost access. These gaps in traditional TV coverage, points in time where TV cameras don't have access or can't be on the spot to capture the scene, have given live-streaming a way into the mainstream consciousness. And in these instances, live-streaming has become a genuine TV alternative, a new option to reach a waiting audience.
And now the big players are looking to capitalize on that newfound awareness.
Today, Twitter has announced a new broadcast deal with Bloomberg which will see Twitter live stream select Bloomberg Television programs, including "Bloomberg West," "What'd You Miss?," "With All Due Respect" and the network's markets coverage.
The deal will include new advertising options, enabling brands to purchase pre-roll ads before clips (provided they aren't live) using Twitter's Amplify platform, while there'll also be the potential for in-stream ads. Bloomberg and Twitter will share the revenue.
It's the latest in a set of exclusive broadcasting deals secured by Twitter. Back in April, the micro-blog giant announced a deal with the NFL which will see Twitter broadcast Thursday Night Football matches live on their platform. The big question at the time of that announcement was what exactly live sports coverage on Twitter would look like, and we got something of an answer to this last week when Twitter ran a trial of live sports coverage through an arrangement with ESPN to broadcast Wimbledon content.
As you can see, the content itself runs on the left side of screen, with the related Twitter conversation on the right.
Such an arrangement could be of particular interest for Bloomberg, which traditionally runs a ticker along the bottom of screen to keep their audience updated of stock movements - if there were a dynamic way for Twitter to showcase related Twitter conversation around not only the program being broadcast, but the stocks being discussed, that could be an interesting value add, especially when you consider that Bloomberg already has a deal in place with Twitter to integrate tweet data into their analytics suite in order to help traders make more informed, timely decisions.
Research has shown that Twitter data can predict the Dow Jones industrial average with 87.6% accuracy and algorithms utilizing Twitter info are able to detect stock market falls well ahead of normal news outlets. If there were a way that Twitter could integrate this capacity into their Bloomberg coverage, that would be a great showcase, not only of Bloomberg's content, but of Twitter's capacity as an essential live broadcast companion.
The Bloomberg deal is reportedly one of several new live-stream partnerships Twitter's working on - along with the upcoming NFL partnership and Wimbledon, Twitter's also announced a deal with CBS to stream the Republican and Democratic national conventions and is in talks with up to 10 other providers of content, including Major League Baseball and the NBA. These arrangements, if secured, would enable both Twitter and the broadcasters to reach wider, international audiences, and if the monetization element works, it could prove an enticing option for other broadcasters and publishers.
And with studies showing that up to 87% of consumers now use more than one device at a time when watching TV - particularly live sports - the direct integration of the two makes perfect sense.
If it works, this could be the new way you watch TV.
Not to be outdone, Facebook, too, has announced a new TV/live-stream integration, with CNBC International signing on to air its program "Street Signs" via Facebook Live. CNBC has seen a big spike in Facebook traffic since the Brexit vote, providing them with a great opportunity to provide content directly to this audience as part an effort to guage the potential.
As noted by CNBC International's head of news and programming, John Casey:
"Alongside surging traffic from our core C-Suite and investor audience, we have noted a marked increase in the number of Millennials using our product. They are mainly consuming social content via mobile and tablet. Our Facebook Live trial will allow our digital native audience to trial our TV product for the first time."
With the show also being concurrently broadcast on TV, CNBC will use the ad-breaks to engage with their Facebook Live audience through polls and reactive comments, which presenters will then use as talking points to help shape the show, making it a more interactive and social experience.
Reports have also suggested that Facebook's working with a range of celebrities and broadcasters to get them producing exclusive content for Facebook Live. The aim here, is for Facebook to make Live a genuine TV rival, a new option for content viewing and entertainment.
Of course, a big challenge in this regard will be in getting users out of their habits and rituals around traditional TV consumption - people are used to watching television on an actual television set, which is normally the central focus of our living rooms. Facebook could look to alleviate by integrating Live content direct into your TV, which is another element The Social Network is exploring.
On top of this, other platforms are also looking at social TV and how they can get into the game.
Snapchat this week hosted the first part of the season two premiere of USA Network's "Mr Robot", which viewers could access via BuzzFeed's Snapchat Discover channel.
How well TV broadcasts will fare in Snapchat's vertical-viewing focused world may be another challenge to consider, but the option underlines both Snapchat's rising popularity and the focus on social TV options (and worth noting, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube also aired part of the Mr. Robot season two premiere).
Meanwhile Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom recently indicated that they too are considering their options in live-streaming
"What's important to us is to figure out how it fits into Instagram because you don't just want to, like, adopt a technology and say 'great, now we have live', we have to figure out it exactly how works inside of Instagram and how it'll be different to all the other offerings."
It's clear that all the major networks see great capacity in live video - but the real question on top of all this is what does it mean for you and your business?
With such a big emphasis being placed on live-streaming, particularly in regards to building it as a TV alternative, it's going to become an increasingly attractive option for all brands everywhere. And if, as expected, live-streaming does continue to grow and eat into TV's attention share, that will make it a huge opportunity for brands, both in terms of related advertising options and in broadcasting content themselves.
Right now, anyone can "go live", anyone can broadcast, anytime, and have that go out to the world. The problem, or challenge, is that it's hard to build and maintain a live audience. But the addition of new programming options will bring more viewers to live, and as more people come to the option, and become accustomed to it - to switching over to live like any other TV station - the demand for live-stream content will also increase.
As such, it may be of benefit for brands to start considering how they might be able to use live-streaming to help boost their business.
Live-streaming is, of course, not for everyone - it comes with a range of challenges, both creative and technical. But it is worth everyone considering the ways in which they might be able to use live-streaming within their marketing process.
Really, it bears some similarity to blogging, coming up with content that answers common questions and addresses audience demands for information. Next time you're going through this process for your written content, consider how and if you could also present the same information in a live format, if you have the people or resources to be able to make an explainer Q and A live video, if you can convert your latest blog post into a Live discussion.
And even if you do go live and the audience doesn't come, don't get disheartened. Going on these latest movements noted above, the platforms themselves are betting that live-streaming will be able to draw in the crowds, and through content additions like live sports and scheduled programming, awareness and demand will continue to rise. And if you've got the practice in and you have live content that's of relevance and interest, you might just be well-placed to capitalize on that new wave of attention, which could give your brand a major boost.