As live video has taken off over the last year, the term “live streaming” has entered the public consciousness. But while live streaming refers to a specific type of technology and experience, live streaming has also become a buzzword, a catch-all for any type of live video viewing, whether it’s actually live streaming or live broadcasting instead.
While live streaming and live broadcasting have their similarities, they are also inherently different for a number of reasons. Here are some ways you can tell the difference:
Passive vs. active viewing
While the underlying technology behind live streaming and live broadcasting are mostly the same, which is always some form of live video streamed through the internet, that’s where the similarities end. Perhaps the biggest difference between live streaming and live broadcasting is the way users experience and engage with the content.
Live streaming applications and features are built with the intent that people from anywhere in the world will be able to view the same event in real time. But like watching live television programming or streaming the World Cup earlier this year, the action is passive. There is no expectation from the performer or host that the viewers will participate, and the audience is not encouraged to do so. While Facebook Live does allow users to comment, most of these live experiences are not dependent on them. In other words, a comment from a user on a live video is the equivalent of a comment on a static picture or pre-recorded video.
The live broadcasting experience is about creating connections. It’s active. The broadcaster involved is not just playing the piano or putting on makeup. He or she is interacting with the audience, asking them to not just watch but participate in the moment in real time. While MeetMe is one example of a popular live broadcasting app, platforms and applications outside of the social space are investing in live broadcasting technology to boost engagement with their users.
Incentives for engagement
Another difference between live streaming and live broadcasting platforms is that live broadcasts incentivize engagement. This concept is perhaps best illustrated with virtual gifts.
Virtual gifting mechanisms allow users to purchase animated gifts, icons, and stickers to “give” to broadcasters via the chosen platform. While anyone can typically receive a virtual gift, top creators are usually rewarded more often as they broadcast more and produce higher-quality content. But more importantly, the most successful broadcasters drive the highest engagement, making their audience feel like a part of the show. If live broadcasting is a talent show, then the virtual gifts are the prizes. The broadcasters can typically exchange the gifts for cash, one way these live influencers monetize their passion.
While not all live broadcasting apps have to offer virtual gifts, there should be some element that encourages users to get involved. Apps like HQ Trivia offer viewers the chance to win a cash prize in exchange for answering trivia questions, and Gravy Live offers the latest products at discounted prices for users who guess the going price of the night’s chosen item.
As mobile live streaming and live broadcasting grow in tandem with each other, the entertainment community and consumers will begin to recognize the differences between the two distinct forms of live video.