The future will be LIVE STREAMING

Co-authored by Dominic Noble & Shambhavi Mishra

Beyonce set the record for the most viewed live stream ever, with ~43 million views for her Coachella performance in 2018.

In December 2020, Lil Nas X performed to an audience of more than 35 million across two days and four shows on the kids gaming platform Roblox. For the first time ever, lines were blurred between gaming, music, and digital immersion through live streaming.

Source: Roblox

The age of live streaming has just begun!

Live Streaming and its evolution

From its initial days, streaming has evolved to provide real-time experiences across multiple sectors. The category achieved mainstream popularity with the emergence of social media and video sharing platforms beginning with YouTube in 2005.

In its current form, live streaming has become a catalyst for reaching a massive audience, across industries with a high degree of personalization and engagement.

Impact of global pandemic on the sector

The impact of the global pandemic has been transformative for the live streaming industry especially in sectors such as Education, Entertainment, Retail & eCommerce etc. 

While earlier live streaming was a supplemental part of the experience in many sectors, it has now become the center stage. Take for example e-learning, while live streaming of classes pre 2019 used to be seen as supplemental education, e-learning today has become an essential tool for the 1.3 billion children unable to visit classrooms in 2020.

Popular video sharing platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have adopted live streaming elements onto their platforms increasing their popularity amongst audiences. Video streaming platform Zoom, saw its revenues increase 326 % year on year, growing from $623 million in 2019 to $ 2.6 billion in 2020.

Similarly, gaming and esports saw a massive uptick due to the global pandemic. Streaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Mixer etc. streamed a total of ~28 billion hours of content, a 78% increase from the ~17 billion hours watched in 2019. 

Even retail and ecommerce saw massive adoption of live streaming with the emergence of social commerce, which is promoting and selling goods through influencer streams on social media networks. Walmart recently piloted a new shopping experience in the US through TikTok and reported an increase by 7x in terms of number of viewers than it had anticipated.

While live streaming was already on the rise pre-pandemic, the current global situation with minimal human-to-human interactions have accelerated the growth of this sector multi fold. 

Live Streaming Major Players

Live streaming platforms should strive to deliver an experience as close to human-like, and that primarily means low latency or lag. The current latency in popular live streaming applications range from 5 to 15 seconds, whereas human interactions have an average latency of 250 ms. 

The platforms offering low latency solutions will see higher user engagement in real time especially in sectors such as sports streaming, live auctions, audience participation, gaming etc.

Future of Live streaming

The current state of live streaming is where the internet was twenty years ago. The potential of live streaming is going to be horizontally disruptive across sectors with crossovers between e-commerce, entertainment, social media, education, and gaming. 

The next decade will show advanced applications of AR, VR and 360 degrees streaming. In a live on-stage performance, imagine a possibility to get close-up and personal with your favorite celebrity, sometimes even getting on stage with them - all virtually!

Live streaming is a powerful agent of change. The old paradigms of content ownership are being broken towards content democratization. This has entailed plethora of opportunities for new age content creators and social media influencers to reach out to their fans real time through live streaming platforms, and creating content real time

We are already witnessing an undercurrent of disruption in traditional forms of media distribution and with consumers across the globe empowered via live streaming platforms to consume content that is real time and personalized.

Live streaming as a sector has already impacted millions of lives, and this is just the beginning. The possibilities that arise from the constructive and creative use of this technology is immense. It has the potential to bring on a larger cultural shift by influencing how consumers select, interact, and consume content across the ecosystem. With many sectors still in the initial stages of adoption, the opportunity for innovation in live streaming applications is tremendous.