Both Facebook and Twitter want (in Twitter's case, need) you to see live-streaming as a genuine entertainment option, an improved medium through which to watch live events in a more interactive and engaging way. If they can do this, they can evolve live-streaming into a genuine TV competitor - and that could be huge for many reasons.
But a big impediment to that shift lies in habitual behavior. TV remains the biggest ad platform in the world because it's become part of how we live - we watch sports events with our friends, our family, we structure our lounge rooms around the TV as a focal point. While online video consumption is constantly rising, TV is still a core focus. It's a habit, something we've grown to rely on.
This is why both Facebook and Twitter are now trying to cross-over into our living rooms.
Last month, Twitter launched new apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Microsoft's Xbox One to make it easier to watch live content on your TV set. And now, Facebook's released their own variation, with a more advanced app that enables viewers to easily stream live video content direct from Facebook to their TV, via Apple TV or Google Chromecast.
The process, as shown in the video, is simple:
- Find a video you want to watch on your phone or desktop and press the TV symbol in the top right corner.
- Select the device you want the video to stream to.
- Enjoy the video right from your TV.
While watching a Facebook video on your TV, you can scroll through Facebook as normal without affecting the playback.
"And if you're streaming a Facebook Live video to your TV, you can see real-time reactions and comments on the screen, and you can join in the conversation yourself by reacting or commenting."
As noted, it's a little more advanced that Twitter's TV app, though it's available on fewer devices. But regardless, it's likely only the first iteration of Facebook's TV crossover efforts - and in that sense, it's a pretty slick way to expand their viewing options.
As noted by TechCrunch, this isn't the first time Facebook's enabled streaming to TV. The Social Network started testing the option back in May and also added a way to cast via AirPlay from their iPad app back in 2011. It's also not as advanced as their plans, as detailed in a patent filed by Facebook earlier this year, which would see your home TV directly connected to your Facebook account, with notifications appearing on-screen.
That type of system is likely still in development, but with Twitter releasing their direct TV option, Facebook may have been compelled to move sooner in order to avoid losing out to audiences shifting to that new viewing process.
It's an interesting time for live-streaming, with your home TV becoming the new battleground, and if Facebook and Twitter can actually make that transition happen, and are able to provide their users with direct connection into people's living rooms, that could cause a huge shift - not only in how we view content, but in how advertising budgets are allocated, the platforms creators use to build a name for themselves and the way we view media options more widely.
It's not a stretch to imagine that soon you'll be watching "The Facebook Morning show" instead of "Good Morning America", that TV shows - or even movies - might soon stream exclusively on social networks. What will that mean for TV ad costs? What will that mean for the wider industry?
Given the rate of change in the live-streaming space, it's likely we'll soon find out.