The Problem with Live Streaming Today

Periscope and Meerkat made a big splash in 2015, but there’s something fundamentally flawed with the so-called hottest “social media” apps of the year.

Live streaming is not new. YouNow and Twitch were founded in 2011. uStream and Justin.tv started in 2006. Still, live streaming is going through a renaissance period with the industry adoration of Meerkat and media fanfare of Periscope, the fastest growing social media app to date.

Not surprisingly, new live streaming apps are now flooding the market.

MyEye lets you share short clips of your surroundings. FireTalk delivers 24/7-streaming channels. Blab is a roundtable talk show in your pocket. You can find many more in the social media section of the App Store, but that is exactly what’s wrong with live streaming today.

It is not social media.

Merriam-Webster defines social media as,

forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content

At first glance this definition seems to apply to today’s live streaming apps, but a deeper look proves otherwise. Here’s where it falls apart:

… social networking …

Watch a live broadcast today and you may be able to exchange a few thoughts and ideas, but any real discussion must be had elsewhere.

For example, anyone who wants extended advice from Grant Cardone needs to send him an email after watching his broadcast. Magicians who wants to perform in the weekly Scope’s Got Talent show have to tweet to apply. Found a potential business partner? Time to connect on LinkedIn. It is nearly impossible to actually network on any live streaming platform today.

… through which users create online communities to share …

Same goes for creating and sustaining a community. Sure, there are plenty of strong live streaming communities out there, such as the #BoPoTribe, #GoodVibeTribe, #LoveTribe, #TagTribes … lots of tribes, but they cannot be maintained through Periscope or any live streaming app alone. In fact, nearly all live streaming communities are organized and run on more traditional social media apps, such as Facebook and Twitter.

… personal messages and other content …

This migration is not simply a case of extending the community to other platforms, but is actually necessary to give the community a home. Periscope and other similar live streaming apps are not built to host or nurture online communities, so they send their users running to real social media apps to facilitate thoughtful discussion through private messages, group chats, pictures, videos, gifs and more.

Why?

Well for starters, Periscope was never intended to be social media. Kayvon and friends built a teleporation device that lets you see the world from someone else’s eyes, an amazing concept, but not social media. Meerkat wanted to offer users another means of generating content to their audience. However, an app that leverages social media by tweeting live video is not exactly social media in itself. Today’s live streaming apps — although engaging and innovative — are still broadcasting platforms at their core with not enough emphasis on community.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s time for a platform to weave community into it’s identity and create a true live streaming social media app. It’s time for live streaming to grow up.

David is the Talent Acquisition Manager at Krue, a live streaming platform for musicians and music-lovers. Follow him here or here or here (choose wisely). All opinions are his own.