In case you have been sleeping under a rock, there is a new social media platform that is taking a foothold around the world. Broadcasting live from anywhere you have a smart phone, two platforms, Meerkat and Periscope are competing for an audience. Celebrities, politicians, business people and average folks are competing for your attention with live, interactive broadcasts.
Meerkat launched at the South By Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW) just a few weeks ago and became an instant hit. Built on top of the Twitter platform, SXSW participants began streaming live sessions, bringing the conference to a broader audience.
Amateur broadcasters are transmitting from their homes, workplaces and out in public. Even professional broadcasters are providing behind the scenes looks at local news and entertainment. Many businesses have caught on to the phenomenon and are building a following and perhaps a client base that they have never had before. The diversity of the broadcasts are nearly infinite. Suddenly you have thousands of channels to choose from. Want to watch pizzas being made in Toronto, Canada? How about chefs at a restaurant in Sweden? Watch a graphic artist work through a design? Ride along with a Lyft driver? Take a walk in San Francisco or New York City? Read and intelligently discuss the news everyday? Or just watch a girl eat breakfast in her underwear, there is a channel for everyones taste.
The Meerkat app, its broadcasters and content have quickly evolved in just a short period of time. The ability to schedule and subscribe to streams assist you in building an audience. Meerkat can also be watched from your desktop or laptop by going to Meerkat Streams. If you use chrome, there is an extension that provides an “unofficial client” in your web browser.
Meerkat is currently iOS only, but an Android beta is available upon request.
Periscope was the just another broadcast app until early March when Twitter swooped in and bought them out. In just ten days, the number of Periscope users topped 1 million. The advantage that Periscope has is the huge backing of Twitter. This enabled them to be launched and promoted to a much wider audience, including the Android platform right from the start.
Being part of Twitter itself, Periscope has the ultimate advantage should Twitter decide to cut off Meerkat completely from using its platform. Twitter has already blocked Meerkat from using its social graph just prior to SXSW. This makes it more difficult for Meerkat users to find and follow their existing Twitter audience.
Out of the blocks, Periscope has a much more polished look and feel. In addition, being integrated with Twitter, you have the ability to view the audience and quickly follow a viewer if you find them interesting.
Periscope also allows your streams to “live beyond live”. After you stream, your broadcast is available for viewing for 24 hours. Where Meerkat currently has no option for this, there are services popping up that allow you to save your Meerkat streams.
This is where Periscope truly excels. You are not always available to catch your favorite broadcasters, but many of them make their streams available for viewing at your leisure.
The User Interface
While Periscope appears to be more polished, the execution of the broadcast interface is questionable. As seen here, the comments take up half of the screen. Often times covering up the broadcast. In addition, there are hearts floating up from the bottom right corner. If you like the stream, you simply tap the Periscope screen to send the broadcaster an animated heart, which you can do repeatedly throughout the stream as a way of providing encouragement. In my opinion, these features distract the viewer taking away from the experience.
While Meerkat does not look as polished, the interactive text does not interfere or distract the viewer. There are heart and retweet button right on the bottom. Once tapped, they disappear. No annoying hearts! The messages scroll up on the bottom third of the screen and do not interfere with the broadcast. You can also scroll backward through the comments in case you missed them. Meerkat also has the option to tweet or not tweet your comments.
The audience is displayed along the top, but since Meerkat is cut off from Twitter, there is no option to follow audience members.
So who wins this battle? Well, it is much to early to tell. Clearly Periscope has the backing and adoption, but Meerkat has its faithful. The Meerkat audience seems to be a more thoughtful audience. The trolls that tend to appear on every social media platform are abundant on Periscope. Meerkat seems to have an audience that squashes them out. Time will tell if this will continue as Meerkat builds its audience.
Is there a true winner? Can there be two platforms? Will Facebook join the fray? Only time will tell. Let me know your thoughts. Who do you follow on each platform? Whose has quality content?