Watch out, Twitter. Today Facebook launched a dedicated hub for watching live and recorded videos in its mobile app. The feature will come to iOS and Android devices in the coming weeks as part of Facebook Live, which was released to public figures last summer but is now available to everyone.
Among the enhancements to Facebook Live are video audience metrics that show the total number of unique viewers who watched a video while it was live, and a chart showing how many Live viewers watched the video at any given moment. Another new feature allows payments to certain news publisher partners in exchange for broadcasting on Live instead of their own sites. An interactive, regularly updated map will let Facebook users explore Facebook Live broadcasts from around the world.
Additionally, Live videos can now be shown to specific groups, such as family members. Video makers also have access to six emojis that they can add to their videos. Users can also send invitations to friends to watch live videos along with them by tapping on the Invite icon and selecting their friends, who will then receive push notifications with the invitations.
New Location for Video Tab
"Live video on Facebook is truly interactive as broadcasters engage with their commenters and respond to their suggestions and questions," wrote Fidji Simo, a Facebook product management director, on the company’s blog. "In fact, from initial data, we’ve seen that people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos. We want people watching the broadcast after the fact to feel in on the action. To achieve this, we will replay comments as they happened during the live broadcast when people watch it later."
A tab marked Video will now occupy the center spot in the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, turning it into a forum for Facebook’s live broadcasts. At the same time, Facebook is moving the popular Messenger shortcut to the top left corner of the screen. In the test run last year, the Video tab had been hidden underneath the app’s More tab.
Twitter’s popular Periscope feature is probably most similar to what Facebook is now offering. One-year-old Periscope has become closely associated with real-time mobile video broadcasting with most users, reaching the 200 million broadcast milestone last month. Facebook is hoping that its Live feature will make videos easier to create and more fun to watch as they happen, leading to higher prices for video ads that one day might compete with television commercials.
Since the Live feature was released to certain public figures, celebrities have used it to broadcast or promote themselves. For instance, singer Jennifer Lopez used it to announce a new single and astrophysicist Sara Seager employed Facebook Live to answer questions about the solar system. According to Facebook, live videos generate 10 times the comments that recorded videos do.
Image Credit: Screenshot of Facebook Live via Facebook.