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Periscope and Meerkat: What’s the Big Hype?

Posted 8 May 2015 9:00 AM by Ivy Chang

By now, you’ve probably heard about Periscope and Meerkat, live streaming apps that allow users to stream everything from daily life happenings to Q&A sessions with viewers. While both apps have similarities — like providing the ability to easily share links to a live stream to social channels or enabling public chats — there are also a few key differences between the platforms.

Meerkat

Periscope

  • Streams are live-only and cannot be replayed
  • Offers a scheduling feature that allows users to set the time for broadcast
  • All broadcasts are publicized
  • Streams can be saved to replay for up to 24 hours
  • Content can be viewed directly within Twitter
  • GPS feature allows users to broadcast from precise locations

I decided to interview a colleague, Eric Payne, who frequently uses both Periscope and Meerkat, to get his personal take on the platforms as well as insights into what brands should keep in mind if they decide to venture into the live streaming space with these apps.

Eric, Director of Content Strategy for Moxie’s Unit 3C, began using Meerkat during SXSW 2015 and was instantly hooked. I often see him walking around the office, awkwardly holding his phone in front of him — that’s when he’s live streaming content. He broadcasts everything from Moxie’s 3D printer doing a build to the goings-on of events we are holding on our campus.

When it comes to the democratization of live content, Eric is a believer — as long as it’s legal, mind you. (Although even those lines have become blurred. Just take, for example, the recent Periscoping of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” as well as the May 2 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.)

THE INTERVIEW

Q. Which app do you use the most — Meerkat or Periscope? Why?

A. As an early adopter of Meerkat, I prefer its user interface to Periscope’s. But as Twitter continues to push its product, I am finding myself using Periscope more often. The range of content on Periscope appears to be broader at this point.

Q. What is your favorite feature of each app? Least favorite?

A. I like the exclusivity of content on Meerkat. I get to pick and choose who I want to see and am only exposed to those users; whereas, on Periscope, it seems to be an open pipeline of content, like Twitter.

Q. What do you think is the reason for all the hype around these two apps?

A. Democratization of content — close-up live views that can’t be biased, bent or slanted. They are what they are. It’s peer-to-peer streaming. It can be everything from personal content and behind-the-scenes experiences to in-your-face, ground-level content — like the Baltimore riots — or even more exclusive live streams, like the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

Q. Do you think that one app will dominate the other?

A. With Twitter powering the app, Periscope will ultimately win. Whichever app builds out a non-mobile Web experience will most likely dominate but then run the risk of entering the murky waters that Napster did many years ago.

Q. Mountain Dew, Spotify and GE are some of the first brands experimenting with Periscope. And Red Bull, Starbucks and MasterCard are now testing the live streaming waters with Meerkat. How do you think brands can leverage either of these apps to market themselves?

A. Mashable, and several other tech publishers, are making excellent use of both platforms as a real-time news delivery system, pushing frequent news and “stay-tuned” updates to users’ phones. By leveraging influencers or celebrities to promote exclusive content — like Eva Longoria is doing for JCPenny — brands have the opportunity to present “surprise and delight” content that goes beyond the curtain of what most people are able to access. For example, on May 5, NBC live streamed Lester Holt’s “Nightly News” show from inside the studio. Interestingly enough, this took place during his segment on Periscope and its use during the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Another example — maybe even more interesting — was the opportunity to watch all the celebrity arrivals at the recent Met Gala.

Q. One of the biggest challenges with Meerkat and Periscope will be the shifting of copyright to users. What do you think are the limitations or legal issues around other copyrighted material in the videos (i.e., music playing or another brand’s products being shown in the background)?

A. The bigger question is who do you go after and for what? To answer your question, as users stream content, the potential for capturing unlicensed products — from music to sodas to sports logos — is a veritable nightmare of litigation if the focus is the user. Going after these peer-to-peer platforms to cut the head off of the snake makes more sense, but it is murky water for both brands and these services considering the social awareness both these platforms generate. For example, Twitter, the owner of Periscope, proudly proclaimed Periscope the winner of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight yet also stated it doesn’t support piracy.

Q. Initially Meerkat relied heavily on Twitter’s social graph for amplification, and now Twitter has cut off that access with the launch of its app, Periscope. Can you discuss what the implications are for this kind of move?

A. Twitter’s cutting of Meerkat means that Meerkat users now have less chance that their content will be discovered. The following that simply populated my Meerkat account via Twitter was shut down, meaning I had to start all over again discovering both users and content. Periscope is a more beautiful user interface by leaps and bounds and has what Meerkat once had — Twitter’s social graph. Users are still able to tweet when they are streaming content, but its capabilities have been greatly reduced. Yet don’t count Meerkat out completely. As of today (May 6), news of a partnership with Facebook means users will not only be able to stream content via Facebook, but they’ll also be able to announce upcoming streams via their networks. Take that, Twitter! It remains to be seen whether this is a move in the right direction, but it definitely is one that will keep Meerkat alive and kicking for the foreseeable future.

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