The Live-Streaming Showdown

30 Apr The Live-Streaming Showdown

It’s an epic battle, rivaling the intensity and ferocity of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

Alright, fine. Maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration.

If you’ve been paying attention to social media news lately, you’ve probably seen a ton of buzz around two apps that seem to have come up from nowhere. Live video streaming services Meerkat and Periscope have recently hit the mainstream market and are starting to pick up steam.

What’s the difference between Periscope and Meerkat? That’s what I wanted to find out. Here’s what you need to know:

First of all, what is live streaming?  Well, live streaming has been around for years. It has been a tool used by journalists, politicians, at events, you name it. The difference between the live video streaming platforms is that they allow anyone to post and stream live video on Twitter without having to subscribe to an expensive service.

With the focus on sharing text (though Twitter) and images (through Instagram and Twitter) in real time, this progression shouldn’t be a surprise. Basically, live streaming is a game-changer for how we experience news and events.

Got it, so what’s the difference?

Well, both apps broadcast content and allow users to watch real time footage of everything from political demonstrations to behind-the-scenes action in Hollywood.

Meerkat was the first to go live, becoming available a few weeks before South by Southwest. In Meerkat’s platform everything is live. Within the app, Meerkat offers a chat function, shows avatars of the viewers watching your content, and has the option for a notification every time someone you follow on twitter was streaming. Similar to LinkedIn’s method of content sharing, “there are no reruns.” This can be both exciting in terms of building anticipation, but also frustrating, leaving Twitter littered with broken links to videos that can’t be accessed once the stream has ended.

Initially people loved Meerkat for their seamless twitter integration, but at South by Southwest twitter announced that they would be removing Meerkat’s access in favor of the live video streaming service Periscope.

Periscope was acquired by Twitter quietly in January 2015 and launched just weeks after Meerkat’s debut. Periscope gives users the option to post their links to Twitter and saves videos for 24 hours. Periscope also offers useful statistics on retention, numbers of viewers, and average viewing time after a stream ends. The biggest complaints about Periscope seem to be that comments disappear as newer comments are posted, and Periscope makes users open a text box that covers the video in order to see who is watching.

Periscope’s biggest advantage in this battle is probably having Twitter’s backing. The integration between the two apps allows for seamless content sharing and more data about what the people you follow are watching.


So the question remains, which live streaming app is going to come out on top? Which app will be the MySpace to Zuckerberg’s Facebook? Who will join the ranks of social media platforms whose name has become a verb? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Sally McHugh
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