How many times have you received a message from Instagram or Facebook informing you that someone has just begun a live stream? Does it annoy you, or does it excite you? Either way, it can’t be ignored. Throughout 2018, the live stream industry has held a substantial presence in social media, impacting the development of various different platforms.
It’s no secret that live streaming has become increasingly popular through the course of this year. One company, Twitch.tv, which primarily features video game streams, has close to 10 million active daily users who are watching for an average of 106 minutes every single day. Similarly, earlier this year, SpaceX’s launch of of its Falcon Heavy Rocket broke streaming records when it became the second biggest Youtube live stream event, with an impressive 2.3 million viewers.
Live streaming has taken the world by storm after its first appearance 25 years ago, when several engineers decided to test out their new technology. In 1993, research and development company, Xerox PARC, hosted a small show in Palo Alto, California and a band named “Severe Tire Damage” was, almost accidentally, the first to be featured in a live stream. A year later, the Rolling Stones began to live stream their music as well. By 2016, the industry was valued at approximately $30 billion and is set to double in growth by 2021.
Several media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram are major contributors to the growth of the live stream industry. Live streams are used for a variety of purposes, whether it’s for video gamers sharing their progress, companies publicizing their product launches, groups documenting rallies, or simply for social media users to recap their day and talk to others online. Viewers are getting the sense that they are sharing an intimate and real moment with the person or group that they are watching, because it is being experienced in real time. The immersive nature of live streaming has revolutionized the manner in which businesses and celebrities reach their consumers and fanbases. Streaming is one of the easiest ways to to gain publicity and increase sales for a company. Likewise, many celebrities use live streaming as a way to grow and reach their fan base as well as advertise their products.
Live streaming’s current popularity and unbelievable growth has been largely dependent on its easy accessibility. In 2018, fewer people paid for cable and instead converted to watching live streams and other forms of entertainment. Compared to television, watching a live stream makes it easier for viewers to multitask and switch to new and diverse platforms. Being all-inclusive, streaming generates more excitement and connection from the viewer.
Live streaming has the potential to reach hundreds, if not thousands, at the click of a button. The feature has revolutionized the technological world and the way that we communicate, making it an entertainment hit in 2018.
Julia Zambito and Anna Meringolo
Graphic: Luca Richman