Monday, 4 April 2016

Facebook’s Live Videos Get Lots of Looks but No Money Yet

When severe weather passed through the Atlanta area early this month, Brad Nitz, a meteorologist for a local television station, WSB-TV, fed viewers live video updates on the station’s website, as he has done for years.

But then he did something new: He turned away from the television camera and addressed an iPhone that was streaming him live — on Facebook. And the station’s social media manager, Jonathan Anker, watched this new Facebook audience swell.

At its peak, the stream reached 8,800 viewers at once, and the segment has been played more than 77,000 times in total, far more than the station’s typical online audience.

The numbers, Mr. Anker said, were “seriously out of whack, in a delightful way.”

Experiences like this have media companies swooning over the possibilities of posting live video to Facebook, a feature made widely available two months ago. For years, companies have searched for ways to unlock three tough questions: How do you attract people to live online videos? How do you reach people on their mobile devices? And how do you get more out of Facebook’s 1.6 billion users?

Facebook, though, has prioritized getting live video in front of as many users as possible. The company has been eager to talk with media companies about getting started with streaming, but remains vague in conversations about revenue sharing or subscription models.

It is pushing a build-first, make-money-later philosophy, one that can be frustrating to media partners, particularly those struggling to navigate broader changes in the online media industry. But whatever the frustrations, they are outweighed by the prospect of reaching Facebook’s huge audience.


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