What Meerkat and Mobile Live-Streaming Means for Creators

/ Mar 12, 2015

Live-streaming service Meerkat offers new feature

This post was originally written for The Jungle, a weekly newsletter about the business of YouTube. Subscribe here.

By Sarah Ullman

“Meerkat rooms become living hashtags.” — Matt Mazzeo

Meerkat is a mobile app that allows you to live stream video and broadcast it to your Twitter feed. Videos disappear after the live stream, but can be saved to a user’s phone. The past few weeks have been exciting ones for the Meerkat founders, who developed the app as a “side project” and then pivoted their team after the app gained huge and sudden popularity, partially thanks to Product Hunt.

Background and context:

Coincidentally (or not), Twitter has been in talks with live-video startup Periscope, and recently acquired the company for an undisclosed, but sizable, amount.

Also of note: Twitcasting (same concept) has been popular in Japan for years. That service has a vibrant and engaged creator community. Thanks to TechCrunch Japan editor Ken Nishimura for the heads up.

What does this mean for video creators?

A few ideas (I’m brainstorming here):

  • The return of event-ized programming. A live stream is by nature temporal and creators that can command attention at a specific moment in time are potentially more valuable. Think about the wild rates for SuperBowl ads, or the power of live sports in general.
  • Speaking of sports: what will prevent fans from broadcasting from their seats at a game? The broadcast rights for live sporting events are huge business and I bet NBC will not be pleased if Meerkat continues to be popular when the Olympics roll around.
  • 360 video + Meerkat. We’re a ways off from this, but imagine the possibilities of 360 video as a live broadcast. Political protests, travel adventures, concerts (ticket sales for a Meerkat broadcast!).
  • Vloggers have already established a strong connection with their audience – this is one very intimate step closer.
  • Education. MOOCs and remote lectures would be far more interesting if you could ask a question from the comfort of your living room! Meerkat’s rudimentary chat function allows this.
  • Backstage or BTS content. I bet John Green fans would love to explore the set of “Looking for Alaska,” no?
  • New genres. YouTube opened up our idea of “content” and created endless varieties of video. What new formats will Meerkat enable?
  • Your ideas? Email me or find me on Twitter.

This brainstorm is only the beginning; my brain is churning with ideas and opportunities for the creator community. Matt Mazzeo used a “campfire” metaphor to describe Meerkat, which immediately conjures thoughts of troubadours, storytelling, ghost stories and above all, creators and conversation. More to come.

newsletter_header FINAL

BrinsonBanks_Sully_027Sarah Ullman (@thesillysully) is a writer and creative consultant focusing on the YouTube ecosystem. She writes a weekly newsletter about the business of YouTube called “The Jungle” (subscribe here) and specializes in helping “traditional media” clients transition to the digital landscape.

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