The Meerkat app took off at SWSX last week to prove that live video is the easiest and most direct way of engaging with audiences online. Although Meerkat has so far been used primarily for streaming free/personal events, it offers a peek into the future of live pay-per-view.
The idea behind the app is dead simple – you stream your live video from an iPhone to the Internet via Twitter to reach thousands of people in on-the-spot real time with live emotions. Followers tune into the stream and can reply or re-tweet streams to get more people involved.
According to data by the Washington Post, Meerkat’s user base has been growing 30 to 40 percent every day since SXSW started on March 13. With 120,000 users signing on in its first two weeks, it should now be rapidly closing in on the ‘one million user’ mark. It’s difficult not to agree with what Eric Ries, the author of the bestseller, The Lean Startup, said:
Meerkat proves there’s an appetite for shareable live video done right.
Very soon, this trend might also motivate broadcasters to monetize their premium live videos, while gaining a foothold in the thriving social media communities. Some of them are already dabbling with the social experience that the app offers. Take the recent example of the BBC, who used Meerkat to broadcast their live coverage of events in Ferguson, Missouri.
What does Meerkat’s livestream success tells broadcasters about the not-too-distant future of live pay-per-view?
The streaming environment is more varied
Meerkat proves how easy it is to democratize the live stream in the 4G environment. Now virtually anyone and everyone can do live footage, using only their phone camera. New possibilities could open up as well, e.g., for niche sports games that are not picked up by large TV broadcasters.
Furthermore, as a result of Meerkat’s striking flexibility, live streaming could soon become quite profitable for professionals whose livelihoods are directly linked with increasing their visibility, such as musicians, conference organizers, celebrities, reporters, stand-up comedians, political leaders, online educators, and product marketing teams. A number of celebrities who use the app to engage with their fans include Gary Vaynerchuk, Ashton Kutcher, or Shaq.
Mobile + social
Live events will be created for social communities on-the-go, and with an excellent UI mobile experience in mind. As the Huffington Post suggests, the audience size might no longer matter as much as the social network structure and long-term relationships. Those who can offer excitement and interaction, while leveraging connections, will thrive.
Live video is easier to use, and closer to real life
Meerkat shows that, when a live streaming technology is easy to use, it stimulates sharing on-the-spot. Due to its ephemeral nature, live video increases emotional intimacy and creates a feeling of exclusivity – something that a recording or a picture can’t deliver.
Preservation of broadcasting licenses will be become more difficult
Streaming a sports game from the offline venue or a cable TV subscription to the Twitter feed, multiplied by millions of users poses a colossal challenge for the original content owners. Large broadcasters will need to find a good way to control people trying to stream the same events in real time. Additionally, ethical issues may occur.
Influencers will drive monetization
The influencer’s opinion matters in the social world. Broadcasters will have to invest in solid relationships with their influencers because their voice is an ultimate validation for the live content quality.
The success of the Meerkat app highlights live stream as the easiest and most efficient way of engaging with online audiences. Anyone with a Twitter account and a simple smartphone can start streaming immediately. Without a doubt, many exciting changes are yet to come that are going to reshape the OTT industry.