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The Future of Live Streaming: Four Companies Leading the Way

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While prerecorded videos may be the current top dog, livestreamed content is quickly rising in popularity. Livestreaming is where someone broadcasts what they're doing in real time, allowing viewers to watch something as it happens rather than after the fact.

There is limited editing with a livestreamed video, meaning all the "ums," "ahs" and pauses of a broadcaster's presenting are all presented to the audience, as are any slipups, mistakes, and outright gaffes. More people are watching this form of media, with Livestream.com stating that 81% of people watched more livestreamed video in 2016 than they did in 2015, confirming that it is on the rise. In 2017, Twitch viewers watched 355 billion minutes of content and received more than 15 million unique daily visitors. These viewers tuned into the more than 2 million broadcasters on the platform and led to a more than 223% increase in the number of streamers making money from the platform. Livestreaming is already a big deal but, if Twitch is able to sustain the same kind of growth detailed by Livestream.com and if other platforms are able to follow suit, the industry could go stratospheric.

The type of live content that people tune into is incredibly varied. While much of it involves streaming multiplayer games such as Epic Games' hit Fortnite Battle Royale and the newly released first person shooter, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Yet, there are plenty of people who stream their day to day lives, including their mealtimes and some even broadcast themselves as they're casually hanging out with friends or as they are running errands around the city.

But this is just a snapshot of what the livestream industry looks like right now. In a few years' time, the sector may look completely different and that's thanks to these four companies which are working hard to push live streaming even further into the future.

Wowza

A report by We Are Social confirms there are four billion internet users around the world. This, in essence, means that there will be four billion potential livestream viewers, as the form of live entertainment continues to gain in popularity. Or, at least, that would be the idea. The reality is that poor internet connections in some parts of the world such as LEDCs (lower economically developed countries) mean that not everyone is able to enjoy livestreamed video in the way that it was intended.

Aiming to solve this is a company called Wowza, which offers ultra-low latency options for live video with its Wowza Streaming Cloud. Wowza was founded in 2005 with the goal of improving and simplifying streaming and the Wowza Streaming Cloud is part of that vision. The tagline - and the idea behind the technology - is that audiences of any size based anywhere in the world will be able to tune into a livestream under three seconds, no matter the quality of their internet connection. For those broadcasters mindful not to subject their audiences to atrocious levels of lag, technology like this may become necessary in future. Wowza already has estimated revenue of $35 million, according to internet insights firm Owler, and it has more than 20,000 clients but given how much of an impact its technology could make, these figures could more than double in the future.

Evolution Gaming

There are a lot of reasons to love livestreams but first and foremost is the value of live entertainment. The anything-could-happen suspense and the general excitement of watching things as they play out are drawing in big audiences. But with that said, the one thing that livestreams are majorly missing is the feeling of interaction.

This is something that the pioneering streaming company aims to solve by creating and livestreaming games specifically designed to encourage interaction with the person on the other side of the camera. According to this Betway Casino report on Evolution Gaming, the company is on the rise. Evolution is a leader when it comes to live gaming experiences such as live blackjack and live roulette games in which players are able to interact with a dealer or croupier. To take this idea of interaction further, Evolution Gaming has also come up with a "bet behind" feature, which lets you bet on someone else's hand. In other words, there's even an element of interaction between viewers of the livestream, not just between croupier and player. Its innovative livestream interactions have proven to be a hit so far, having grown rapidly since its founding in 2006. In 2017, it had a revenue of €178.4 million which represented a growth of 54%. While it would be difficult to keep up this level of growth, the demand for interactive experiences suggests that it may be possible.

Facebook

Facebook is already the most-used social media platform in the world, having made CEO Mark Zuckerberg a household name. From its founding in February 2004, Facebook has grown to more than two billion users who use the platform to share information about their days, their major life events and to keep in touch with their family and friends. In August of 2015, Facebook started expanding into livestreaming with a feature called Facebook Live. Facebook Live streams have been viewed by almost two billion people, says Engadget, indicating that people love tuning in as much as they love casual browsing on the site.

A significant part of this is because of the platform's focus on shareworthy, community-created content. In particular, people have become community journalists, streaming live events as they happen. From natural disasters to local perspectives on global happenings, streamers are using Facebook Live to spread the word about whatever they care about. Because of the local nature of Facebook, this content spreads quickly, offering that close-knit feel that other livestreaming platforms have thus far struggled to deliver. The feature seems to be paying off as in 2017, Facebook had a revenue of $40.7 billion.

Panopto

When people think of livestreaming, they very often think of three types of streaming. There are livestreamed video games in which players broadcast their epic, multiplayer feats, livestreamed music concerts that let you experience a show you aren't attending in person, and live life streaming, as people give you a window into the way that they live. But live streaming also has uses for businesses and educational institutes, helping to get content out to offices and classrooms based all around the country or even all around the world.

That's what livestreaming video platform Panopto has been focused on since it was founded in 2007. While educational and business live streaming aren't the leading forms of streaming right now, the uses of streaming mean that it's important that sectors who would find it useful don't get left behind. Although it's unclear exactly how much money the company has made since its inception, in 2016, it saw record-breaking growth, reaching more than one million users. That said, however, marketers and communications experts have already noticed - and employed - the potential of this technology. For instance, in 2015, General Motors became the first motoring brand to use Facebook to livestream the launch of a new car model, the Chevrolet Volt EV.

With the livestreaming industry moving so fast, it's difficult to gauge exactly what the sector may look like in the near future. However, these companies give us a better idea, suggesting that livestreaming is about to become even more exciting for audiences around the world.

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