Periscope Is (A)Live

Just as it appeared that Facebook would do to Periscope what Periscope did to Meerkat, the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives breathed new life into the fledgling, real-time video-streaming app owned by Twitter (Nasdaq: TWTR). Here’s the lede from ABC News:

The Democratic sit-in over gun control last night almost fell into a broadcasting black hole until tech savvy representatives took out their smartphones and began broadcasting on Periscope. The live-streaming service, which was launched by Twitter 15 months ago, proved to be an invaluable tool for Democratic lawmakers who converged on the House floor after House Speaker Paul Ryan adjourned the session.

Those House Dems may also have inadvertently delivered to C-Span a new lease on life with a huge audience boost, albeit not one of the network’s making. CNN’s Brian Stelter noted in his piece titled: “C-SPAN moves into spotlight with Democrats’ protest: ‘This is our story’”

“The normally low-profile cable network is enjoying a surge of attention for its coverage.”

The dryest of dry cable channels acquiesced to GOP House leadership and cut off its cameras once the Democrats commandeered the room.

It then chose to carry the amateur Periscope feed from the hand-held mobile phone of Congressman Scott Peters (D.-CA).

The Verge’s Tom Connors observed:
“As a video editor, I was curious to see how C-SPAN would integrate Periscope and Facebook Live into their broadcast. It was a disaster — and I was hooked. As broadcast video goes, it was some of the worst I’d ever seen…And the fact that it was messy made it all the more exciting.”
Maybe C-Span should look to UGC more often to boost its languishing viewership (and perhaps save production costs in the process)? Take note of the auspicious buzz on the new, live-streaming business news site CheddarTV, founded by former Buzzfeed president Jon Steinberg.
Yet today, the political cognoscenti are all a-Twitter over how the sleepy Democrats finally woke up and smelled the Republicans’ rancid roses, while the tech pundits wondered whether this is the catalyst to reinvigorate Periscope in the face of much deeper-pocketed competition from start-up and techonomy-killing monopoly Facebook.

Facebook is so pumped about deflating Periscope, it is paying not just celebrities, but a bunch of big media brands for using the streaming platform to host their editorial output. Not only that, but Facebook users (like me) need to opt out to avoid the noise in my newstream every time someone I follow (and some I don’t) decides to self-indulge. Not cool, Facebook.

As good as yesterday’s Congressional sit-in was for elevating brand Periscope, Facebook Live was hardly absent from the boffo news event. It played a co-starring role in the political production.

Competition is good. Let’s hope that Jack & co. keep the heat on (and consider taking a page from Mark Zuckerberg’s PR playbook):

One last thought: in the news coverage of yesterday, it was disheartening to see the medium overshadow the message (of gun control) to some degree. Maybe the medium is the message?

Originally published at on June 23, 2016.

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