Why Developers Need Livepeer to Bring Better Video to Decentralized Social Apps

Doug Petkanics
Livepeer
Published in
5 min readJan 12

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Despite many of the metrics in the decentralized tech industry being down in 2022, one thing that’s been decidedly up and to the right is growing adoption of decentralized social (dSocial) apps and protocols. This has been reflected in the growing user counts and registrations of on chain profiles across various ecosystems like Lens, Farcaster, and DeSo, as well as within engagement within the apps built on these platforms across categories like posts, comments, and likes. The growth of these applications represent one of the most exciting markets, and there are various reasons why developers should tap into Livepeer to help grow their apps’ attention, engagement, and market share.

Add video posts with seamless playback
Being able to share and playback video is the baseline for evergreen social content. Short form video posts on social media, like those seen in TikTok, are one of the most engaging content types, leading to longer app session times and more shareable content units that create viral loops and lead to high engagement. However, very few things disrupt a user session and lead to dropoff at a faster rate than broken video that buffers forever before and during playback. And by default, video playback on dSocial applications are broken, and lead to this buffering.

Livepeer’s web3 social media featureset fixes this, and enables seamless video playback for users.

The reasons why require understanding a little bit about video technology. By default, early dSocial protocols don’t account for treating video content any differently than text posts, image based posts, or other media formats. Video files get linked or uploaded, and then the apps attempt to serve them back to users directly off of CDNs, or even more disruptively, off of decentralized storage. In reality, to get video to play back well, it requires taking a compute heavy step called transcoding into account, which converts the initial video into the different formats and bitrates necessary to deliver them to all device types on all connection speeds. The Livepeer developer SDKs tap into the Livepeer Network for transcoding, and performs this step with decentralized video infrastructure.

Furthermore, the SDK comes with an integrated player, that dSocial app developers can easily drop into their applications to pull this processed video over the correct protocols, to get the videos playing back for users near-instantly, without buffering. Livepeer’s player will even interpret IPFS and Arweave links to video content, and automagically perform the encoding and caching of content for fast playback — without this, playing unencoded video back off of IPFS gateways leads to minutes of buffering and can never scale to thousands of viewers.

This functionality works in Twitter-style feed type apps, where users can scroll past posts, with autoplaying video, as well as in video specific apps more like Youtube, where users navigate to a specific video-consumption type experience. Check out the web3 builder guide focused on short form video for social apps, to get started creating these experiences today.

Control who can access video via on chain data
Many dSocial apps are focused on creator-to-community use cases. Creators build up communities of fans or followers, and then drop content to them — concerts, music videos, live streams. To do this effectively, the content needs to be restricted in access so that only followers, NFT holders, or members of the community can view it. And in the dSocial world, this often means viewing what NFTs or tokens the user holds in their digital wallet.

Because of Livepeer’s chain-agnostic connections to various blockchain ecosystems, it enables access control to video posts and live streams based on on-chain data. New creator monetization mechanisms and direct connections between creators and their communities are at the heart of the innovation that decentralized social uses to disrupt the status quo, and Livepeer lets you rapidly experiment with these possibilities when it comes to video content.

Guarantee your users video content ownership
Users of dSocial applications typically express that they value ownership and control over their content. In a traditional social application, after a video is uploaded to a platform like Youtube or Facebook, it now belongs to that platform to demonetize it or censor it when they choose. Livepeer enables you to give your user the options to store their asset on decentralized storage, and to mint it as a video NFT on various blockchains.

Typical NFT platforms seen to date haven’t instrumented for video, and have put in place arbitrary restrictions like 100MB upload limits, leading to very little experimentation around videos longer than a couple minutes. Livepeer eliminates this limit, giving your dSocial app the opportunity to be one of the leading experimental playgrounds for creators who want to push the bounds of monetization, ownership, and expression.

Jumpstart your dSocial app with Livepeer
In summary:

  • Video posts on dSocial today are often broken. Livepeer easily lets you add video posts in a way that plays back seamlessly with high reliability.
  • Creator to community apps have an exciting opportunity to experiment with better creator monetization. Livepeer solves for on chain access controls to video to ensure that only communities of followers, NFT holders, or token holders can access the content the creator drops.
  • Your users care about control and ownership of their content. Livepeer’s integrations with dStorage providers and on chain NFT minting, mean that your users won’t feel the risk of being deplatformed or demonetized.

If you’d like to get started adding video to your dSocial app today, check out The Web3 Builder Guide: Short-Form Video Social Apps. It is a reference guide to provide app developers with direction on what products and services to use to quickly build and launch decentralized social applications.

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Doug Petkanics
Livepeer

Building live streaming on the blockchain at Livepeer. Previously Founder, VP Eng at Wildcard and Hyperpublic (acquired by Groupon).