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Live streaming is the hot new thing every big media platform is fighting for in 2018. Today, 100 million internet users watch live video and it’s a social media punch-up for the lucrative streaming monopoly. Whatever their angle, the big players know they need to incorporate this technology to stay relevant. Trevor Evans, CEO of Stream Time, gives the expert’s ring-side commentary.

The way we access and view video content changed dramatically in 2017. One of the biggest shifts was in the growing prioritisation of ‘live’ content - allowing brands to build deeper, immediate connections with their customer bases.

This evolution in live viewing is here to stay. ‘Live’ no longer just means live TV. In fact, with the superior functionality, immediacy and interactivity of mobile and computer live streaming, traditional live television can no longer compete. For broadcasters and content owners who are hosting or organising large events, whether sports matches, conferences, fashion shows or festivals, live streaming now offers far more than live television distribution ever could. The reactive and interactive functions of live streaming platforms allow for immediate engagement, and added value for consumers who want to experience it live.

As live streaming technology and accessibility continues to improve, and tech giants like Google and Facebook investing huge amounts, there will be an inevitable transition to these channels for distribution of popular events. From Coachella to the Superbowl, political announcements to the World Cup final, live streaming will be the means of distributing and consuming this content effortlessly, connecting people around the world through the moments that matter most to them.

As of January 2018, there are several big players in live streaming: Twitch and Periscope led the way, but more recently, Facebook and YouTube capitalised on their existing reach to propel their live streaming platforms’ popularity. As the big, must-see events make the transition to streaming, we will see the competition between the dominant players heating up. Those who exclusively secure the most, and most important, events for streaming through their platforms will reap the benefits, particularly if they make the most of the marketing prospects that will come with live streaming success. We might even see new players joining the field. Given Apple’s dominance in the tech world, and their streaming of the 2017 keynote conference, it would be surprising if they didn’t want to get in on the live streaming action.

Conversely, if certain platforms manage to secure the majority of the events coverage, their competitors could suffer. For example, Snapchat, previously one of the pioneers of immediate social content, is already dwindling; now outcompeted by Facebook and Instagram’s story features. To some extent, the demand for more niche content, such as livestreaming, and streaming video gaming, will continue to support platforms such as Twitch, and influencers already employed by companies like YouTube are unlikely to be seen jumping ship. However, the game is on to make the most of streaming big events, such as festivals and football games, which could seamlessly bring huge audiences and fanbases en masse.

Finding a way to accommodate the live streaming market could mean huge (and very profitable) things for any platform that manages it. However, it would be no mean feat – the host would have to demonstrate to audiences and content creators alike that their platform has the functionality and reach to make it the best option. Content creators have shown little loyalty to the platforms they broadcast through and simply care about where they can best engage with their audiences.

Whether any of the big players do manage to dominate the live streaming market or not, what all of this opportunity and competition means is that we will see plenty of progress and investment in live streaming in 2018. This means increased interactivity, better streaming, and more of it. All of this is excellent for the consumers of live video content.

Live content is in the middle of a revolution, and it’s the live streaming audiences that will experience the greatest benefits.

About the Author

Trevor Evans is CEO and founder of Stream Time, the TV guide for live streaming. It is an all-in-one scheduling and discovery platform for live streaming.