Facebook Inc. on Wednesday rolled out a number of new features for its Live video service, all of which will enable its billion-plus users to create, locate and share moments instantly to groups of people from their smartphones.
The social network added features to its live streaming video allowing users broadcast to a particular group as well as invite friends to watch the video with them. Users can also comment and add floating emoji reactions in real time; reactions will be immediately visible to the person broadcasting the video.
Besides streaming video in real time, other features include a map of video streams available only on the desktop that shows live streams around the world and an expanded search tool and filters to find real time videos. Videos can also be turned into black-and-white shots, like on Facebook's Instagram.
The video streaming feature was initially launched previous summer to a limited number of public figures and then it was made available to people in the U.S. through the company's iOS and Android apps. It’s indicative of the company’s primary aim of getting the broader public to stay longer during their visits to the social network.
The move is yet another challenge by the Menlo Park, Calif., tech giant to other competitors like Snapchat's video features, Google Alphabet’s Youtube, Twitter Inc's Periscope live streaming service as well as an inherent threat to broadcast television.
Video streaming is increasingly becoming a highly competitive feature on social platforms, especially with big players competing to stream major sports meet and exclusive video clips from high-profile events such as the Oscar and Grammy awards shows. Even advertisers prefer video that reaches the younger audience.
Facebook with almost 1.6 billion active monthly users boasts it has a size advantage over its rivals in the video streaming arena. However, analysts believe otherwise. They say the social network is used by people for personal communications among friends and family and platforms such as Twitter’s Periscope would be a better bet for streaming videos in real time.
According to Twitter’s Periscope, it has broadcasted over 200 million videos till date and on the other hand Facebook says its users comments on live videos is 10 times more than on regular videos. Major tech companies are delving into the video arena as a way to retain users for a longer duration on their platforms. Evidently this helps them draw more traffic and advertisers.
While there’s no doubt that the Menlo Park company has a lot of power in the social media marketplace but whether live video will take off or not still remains an open question.