There’s a lot for brands to love about live-streaming video. Brand events like fashion shows, concerts and behind-the-scenes moments score big with audiences and consumers because of their built-in drama: the idea that anything could happen, because it’s live!
Recently, however, it isn’t live video itself that’s captivating us—it’s the apps being used to live-stream them. This year’s near-contemporaneous release of free live-streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope have developed into a quick sprint out of the gate that is fascinating brands and the tech community alike. Below, you’ll find the highlights about this hot live-streaming app competition.
App #1: Meerkat
Backstory: Meerkat became known as the “SXSW sweetheart” this year as a revolutionary way to live-stream video content from anywhere, through your phone’s Twitter account. Following the buzz at SXSW, it grew to 300,000 users in under a month.
What we like about it: Meerkat made headlines by making personal live-streaming unbelievably easy and fast. For a moment, it felt like the future of journalism. (And the little meerkat in the logo was cute, too.)
Notable Users: Jimmy Fallon used it to live-stream St. Paddy’s Day. Al Roker used it to broadcast the way he cooked his dinner. And Madonna attempted to use it for a live video premiere.
Potential pitfalls: You know that Madonna premiere on Meerkat we mentioned? It mysteriously didn’t work, and she ended up posting the video to YouTube instead. An even bigger problem? Just weeks after Meerkat’s release, Twitter officially blocked Meerkat from using its social graph—making it about a million times more difficult for Meerkat users to find their friends on Twitter. In other words, a serious cold shoulder from the social platform Meerkat depends upon for success.
App #2: Periscope
Backstory: Hot off the heels of Meerkat’s February 27th public launch, Twitter confirmed on March 13th that it had in fact purchased Periscope—a similar live-streaming app.
What we like about it: According to recent reports (here, here and here) Periscope is a little more refined, a little more capable, and a little more trustworthy than Meerkat. Unlike Meerkat, Periscope broadcasts can be viewed for up to 24 hours after the live feed ends. That gives it more legs than Meerkat, which can end up a “dead stream” after a while—not an ideal consumer experience. The UI for Periscope is also understood to be a little sleeker than its Meerkat cousin—an improvement that’s possibly related to its near $100 million price tag.
Notable Users: Brands like DKNY, Red Bull and Spotify have live-streamed events on Periscope.
Potential Pitfalls: There’s a bit of a “bully” feeling surrounding Periscope (and its parent Twitter) right now. Maybe it’s because we all intrinsically root for the underdog, and maybe we relate on an unconscious level to a little meerkat sticking its head out from its hole only to be destroyed by a swooping, territorial bird. (In fairness to this metaphor, though—the “territorial bird” of Twitter admittedly owns, runs and is the territory that Meerkat works in.) Still, with the power of Twitter behind it, Periscope seems the front-runner in the competitive landscape for now.
It does seem like the tech community has named Periscope the preferred live-streaming app of choice—but it was this same tech community that crowned Meerkat the Future of Journalism back in February. Right now, this one seems too close to call.