Beta-testing Twitter’s livestreaming app: How Periscope is going to change the way we see the world and why that’s bad news for YouTube and traditional TV channels.

Richard Gutjahr
Mar 26, 2015 · 5 min read

There’s a new kat in town

I have seen the future and it is coming in real time. We had just seen Meerkat, a new live-streaming app being introduced at the SXSW conference/festival in Austin, TX, when Twitter extended its sighting device and fired a cannonade through its latest acquisition by the name of Periscope.

Periscope is Meerkat on steroids. What’s most brilliant about it is how it combines live-streaming with functionalities from WhatsApp and Snapchat, the killer feature being a deep integration with Twitter’s own Social Graph. This is the application that had catapulted Meerkat to the top among tech aficionados in a very short time, but that cooperation was ended abruptly by Twitter when it was seemingly making their competitor too powerful.

Great design and functionality — Periscope looks gorgeous

As one of the first beta-testers I had the opportunity to test the app extensively last week, and here is what I think: Just-in-time before its 9th anniversary Twitter has come out with a true mega hit. Handling, design and functionality are all first-rate. The addiction factor is enormous.

They couldn’t have hit it off any better

The timing couldn’t be better: Thanks to 4G and to an increasing number of WiFi hotspots the age of live-streaming now finally seems to be upon is. This development doesn’t just make classical TV look old-fashioned. Even YouTube and its stars look like a senior citizens’ ball after Meerkat and Periscope.

Breaking Bad-Star Aaron Paul and his wife chat with fans around the world via Periscope

I was sitting on my couch and through Periscope I could take part in a real-time guided tour of skater legend Tony Hawk’s living room. The next moment I sat with Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad) and his wife on their veranda. Afterwards I teleported myself into the cockpit of a private jet and looked over the captain’s shoulder as he was taking off.

Anyone who spent no more than half an hour travelling around the world with Periscope will not want to do without it any longer. No cuts. No editing. No orchestration. You partake in real-life situations, and that creates a closeness that is unthinkable in classical television.

Skater-Legend Tony Hawk takes us on a guided tour of his living room


Additionally you can hand out hearts or communicate with the sender via Livechat. People will be out in the streets with their selfie sticks, live-streaming their lives. Musicians and movie stars will use the app for spontaneous Q&A sessions with their fans. Trust me, it feels like magic when you see that Jesse ”Yo, Bitch!“ Pinkman lets you know he’s read your comment by saying ”I love Berlin!“

Meerkat allows scheduling livestreams but no playbacks

Everybody becomes CNN

Periscope also offers new opportunities for reporting to journalists. Up until now live-streams have been expensive and cumbersome (like having to bundle several SIM cards in a reporter’s backpack). Periscope will turn live-streaming into child’s play — even for technophobe media dinosaurs. Viewers can send commands and ask questions that the reporter can act upon on site.

What’s different from Meerkat, Periscope allows you to play back your video streams for 24 hours, then they’ll disappear. This ˮexpiration date“ reminds me of Snapchat. It is supposed to motivate users to broadcast a lot, because their works are only snapshots and are not meant to last for eternity.

Checking out the cockpit of a private jet

Ready for takeoff

When I tested the beta version of Periscope I still noticed a few bugs: The video stream and the faded-in questions were not in synch sometimes. The sender sometimes answered questions that only appeared on the screen quite a bit later. Also they don’t seem to be able to fully keep their promise yet that you can save your own live-stream.

Since I installed the app last week there have been a number of updates already. Periscope still seems to be a work in progress (in lieu of any legal terms there is only a “Lorem Ipsum” text so far). And they still haven’t put the final touches on the design. Obviously Twitter is in a hurry to push the app into the market in order to benefit from the momentum triggered by the Meerkat release.

Still, Periscope looks more elegant and better thought-through than Meerkat. The 24-hour replay philosophy makes more sense to me than an offer of live-streams that will disappear into nirvana as soon as they have been aired. The complete integration of Twitter into Periscope should also give problems to the Meerkat.

Anyway, if I were invested in Meerkat, I would seriously start worrying now.

There can only be one

Periscope could be the long-awaited coup de libération for Twitter. My first Periscope stream was watched by Anthony Noto, CFO at Twitter. He’s probably jumping for joy by now. Not so much because of my performance. With pre-rolls and advertising fade-ins Twitter has probably found its way of making some real money soon. Finally.

Interacting with Taco from Paris, London and Sydney

Lastly, a word of warning: If you want to live-stream over your mobile network you’d better have a fat data plan in your contract. Video consumes data like crazy. So before you know it your provider could slow you down after only a few minutes of live broadcast.

Check out my blog:

How Periscope will change Breaking News coverage

Richard Gutjahr

Written by

Journalist, TV-Anchor, Time-Traveler

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