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Published on May 31st, 2018 | by Sunit Nandi


How businesses are using live streaming to their advantage

If you remember the days of waiting several minutes (or even hours) with a video paused, waiting for a suitable buffer to load before you could enjoy it without any stoppages, loading symbols or jerky playback that turned comedy into horror, then you’ll realise just how good streaming video has become. From HD and now even 4K videos that play effortlessly over YouTube, or even well-known broadcasters offering their services solely on a streaming basis (iPlayer, SkyGo), the appetite for streaming video is now huge thanks to faster home broadband speeds and 4G (and soon 5G) connectivity as standard on most smart devices.

‘Television 2.0’ is totally changing the way that consumers watch video media, and of course throwing up new opportunities for businesses who use television or internet advertising to promote their product or service. Instead of set popular times or a limit to advertising dictated by the weekly TV schedule, now the amount of adverts broadcast can be in the bracket of millions per hour rather than hundreds or thousands. There’s also the opportunity for video to be used for more than just promotion, and some businesses are even creating products that revolve around the advantages of live streaming, and take advantage of the anywhere, anytime nature of live internet broadcasting.

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The TV revolution

Streaming services like Netflix and NowTV aren’t exactly new, and the market for streamed video and music is well established. What high-speed live video is allowing us to enjoy however is a much more interactive form of entertainment. Dreamt up by the founder of short-lived 7-second clip service Vine, HQ Trivia is giving us a glimpse into how live streaming can make things like quiz shows more exciting to watch and take part in. The idea is to bring interactive live streaming to smart phones. Sunday’s £8,000 jackpot game saw almost 300,000 viewers competing for the prize.

Broadcasting only to mobile devices, the live quiz show asks users to answer 12 questions, with cash prizes awarded to those who make it all the way to the end. Money is generated from advertising, and it’s anticipated that sponsorship messages will become more frequent in the UK’s version of the app as the user base expands. This format allows users to feel like they are actually the contestant, and could end up transforming the way that we watch quiz TV, especially if established shows realise the potential for this kind of application. The ‘second screen’ idea is another example of where live streaming could catch up to live TV, and is already happening in apps like that linked to ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, with users able to re-watch acts that have just taken place, and even press their own virtual buzzer if they think the performers aren’t up to scratch.

A changing video game industry

Watching someone play video games usually meant that it wasn’t your turn, and you’d have to wait until on-screen death / boredom / a parent telling someone else to share before the controller was passed over. However, times have changed, gaming fans now tune into a channel with the intention of watching someone work their way through the latest triple A game or build up their character in an online MMORPG. Some people are even willing to send the channel owner cold hard cash for the pleasure of seeing them replay old N64 games or give their take on fast-paced multiplayer games like Call of Duty and Gran Turismo.

Such is the popularity of the trend, major consoles now have built in screen recording and sharing software that means interesting bits of gameplay, or even entire sessions, can be shared straight to sites like YouTube and Vimeo, but now more commonly, Twitch. Twitch was designed as gaming website when it was first released, but has now developed into the best place to watch gamers streaming their gameplay content. The site allows anyone with the capability of streaming to record themselves playing their favourite games, before sharing it with whoever wants to watch. It’s not like Twitch is just another streaming website either, with over 500,000 years (you read that correctly) of game streams broadcast each year, and an estimated value of $20 billion, according to some sources. Twitch makes its cash from advertising, which naturally involves streamed videos on certain content pages, as well as a premium service which allows users to get rid of adverts altogether, for a monthly subscription fee.

Live casino, and virtual ‘face to face’ gambling

This level of interactivity is providing a huge opportunity for one industry that has already enjoyed lots of success riding the internet wave. Online gambling makes up a third of all gambling revenue collected in the UK right now, and online casino gaming provides a pretty sizeable chunk of that alongside things like sports betting and bingo. What live video is doing for online casinos however is bringing the game to life just that little bit more.

One of the biggest complaints of online casinos is that the whole experience can be a little impersonal. Games are often managed by software as opposed to a person, and the element of service is often lacking without a trained dealer to make you’re having a good time.

This online gaming site offers a live casino feature that changes all of this, using a live video feed to bring professional croupiers straight to computers and smart devices. With a camera crew set up in a casino anywhere in the world, it’s possible to broadcast player vs. dealer games like roulette, blackjack and many more that only require interactions between two people. This form of live streaming video breaks down the feeling of online casinos simply being run machines, and gives online-only services the opportunity to interact at a more personal level, possibly winning over gamblers who have previously been uninterested by gaming that doesn’t involve human interaction.

What’s next for live streaming?

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The future of live streaming video has several routes. As well as the interactive options seen within the gambling and quiz shows, virtual reality will certainly play a big role in how streaming video reaches users in the future. Samsung already offer 360 videos taken at concerts, and in a more philanthropic fashion, robot cameras have been used to broadcast live video to people who couldn’t otherwise make an event. This kind of instantaneous streaming on a personal level could create applications where people can explore new places, or attend events without even being there in person.

As connectivity speeds increase, the capability of technology at the receiving end improves, live streaming will only continue to provide users with a more enhanced and interactive way to watch movies, TV shows, and streams of day-to-day life. The 15 minutes of fame that blogs and YouTube channels once offered when they emerged could well rest on the next big live streaming service that will compete with the existing services like Periscope. One thing that’s certain however is that there’ll never be a shortage of people willing to do crazy and impressive things in front of an audience, so expect to see more people getting in front of the camera than ever before.

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I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.

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