Overthinking: Where is livestreaming heading?

I don’t use Facebook very regularly anymore and so have missed its push for users to make and use livestreaming. I’ve noticed it a lot on other platforms like Instagram and there seems also to be many mid-level channels on YouTube who have been encouraged to produce live videos.

Frankly, most live videos I’ve seen so far have been glitchy and made with token effort. Platforms are pushing for producers to provide live content but some of the best producers of video content are great because of the planning and editing they put into their normal videos. In a live setting, they are unable to provide the same slick form of entertainment and, ultimately, most content producers seem to use their live streams for Q and A sessions or virtual meet and greets.

In terms of journalism live streaming seems to have more potential:

 

With Facebook Live there has been an uptake in the use of already available streaming capability. This is because of the high number of Facebook users and the platforms ability to place such heavy emphasis on Live streaming.

The effect on journalism as cited by Matt Dusenbury is best exemplified by Justin Stapleton’s live reportage severe weather in Houston in 2016.  This example shows livestreaming provides the potential for reporters to interact with the viewers of the broadcast and tailor factors of the broadcast to their reactions. As in the example of Stapleton he was able to, in real time, provide viewers of his broadcast with information they needed.

Live streaming journalism is already leading to an increased immediacy and candidacy in the reportage of breaking and rapidly developing news events. In addition to the increased speed of the news cycle tools such as Facebook Live could also lead to an unprecedented self-reflexivity of news and a breakdown of the divide between reporters and their audience. Traditionally audience input has had to pass through producers. Live streaming has the potential for the broadcaster and audience to directly interact and for the news to be tailored to the audience’s needs.

 

The various social platforms have been intent on becoming media companies for a while now. Twitter has a deal to live stream the NBA and Instagram and Snapchat are still trying to pivot their ‘story’ style into watchable channels and news sources. Similarly, YouTube is trying to curate the best of its platform into YouTube tv.

I wonder where all of this is head? To what extent are these platforms looking to curate? Could we all one day have our own 24-hour non-stop tv channel of live and scripted content which is unique to our own personal preferences and priorities?

Based on the Instagram models our channels could be location based, preference based or revolve around subscriptions. But what about the shared experience of watching pre-scripted content.

As interesting an idea as this might be do any of us really want this? I wonder if live streaming is a technology we don’t want to be pervasive. Live streaming suits us for news and legitimately interesting live events but I think it could be a development which, like video chat, we prefer to only use occasionally.

Perhaps it will evolve eventually and make more sense. Perhaps live-streaming will be integrated into subscription based TV. Perhaps. In the meantime, I’ll continue to grit my teeth while content producers fiddle with cameras bulge their eyes as they try to react to subscriber comments.

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