Is Mobile Live Streaming the Missing Link Between TV and Social Media?

Mobile live streaming has taken the social media world by storm. Apps like Periscope and Meerkat have ushered in a new era of visual social media that is live, raw and authentic. This new era is all about social visuals and, most importantly, live mobile video.

With the upcoming launch of a Periscope app for Apple TV, the introduction of new Samsung phones that can livestream directly to YouTube, and Facebook's foray into live streaming for celebrities, journalists and verified profiles, a debate is brewing about whether live streaming is becoming the new live "television."

"Live streaming is a new game entirely because it is dynamic, not static. Once a brand goes live, their competitors must follow. Customers will come to expect it. They won't want tired, off-the-shelf archived videos," said Ron C. Pruett, Chief Advisor to Al Roker Entertainment, a thriving multimedia company that develops and produces innovative content across a variety of networks and alternate distribution platforms, including live streaming. "Live broadcasting on a cell phone is the missing link between TV and social media. Period."

Certainly, mobile live streaming adds a multidimensional, collaborative layer to social media through unedited visual storytelling. This next step in social media is also creating a new viewer experience and a new way for creators to deliver content and engage with audiences. Now, more than ever before, we are all moving toward becoming media companies that create and broadcast our own content from the palms of our hands. Live streaming is beginning a revolution in the way we consume television, news and entertainment; it really signals the next step in social media. It's also a new way for brands and businesses to communicate with customers and clients.

Jay Manuel, America's Next Top Model's creative director for cycles 1 - 18, adds, "After working in television for the last 12 years and being very active on all social media platforms, I've recently joined Periscope and was surprised at the incomparable connection with viewers. Live streaming seems to seamlessly bridge the gap between TV and social media. Having the opportunity to communicate with viewers in real time changes the game. Going forward, the opportunity to create and produce tailor made content that's truly interactive will forever change broadcasting."

Nielsen Social's data shows that the viewership experience has evolved and that viewing television while also engaging on social media platforms is ever increasing. This integration of social media and television into our daily lives shows the power that social engagement has when determining the popularity, and many times the success of a TV show. Additionally, the Shorty Awards, have also taken this element into consideration through their Best Integration with Live Television Category, that recognizes live television productions that have integrated Twitter, Facebook or other social platforms into the actual content or production of live television. Mobile live streaming now adds a new layer to the way we interact with video content and how we engage with the television we consume.

"Live streaming has the ability to catch us where we are, whether we are creating streams or viewing them. In the digital age, we are on the move and on our mobiles, and live streaming is providing us with authentic, real-time content that fills the gap where television leaves us and where traditional social media wants to take us," added Caroline Avakian, founder & CEO, SourceRise and managing partner of Socialbrite, who focuses on new media for the humanitarian sector.

As it stands currently, mobile live streaming is commercial-free reality television where users can create their own show, building an audience within a specific niche. As easy as going live on your mobile or tablet, you can launch your personal brand or your personal livestreamed show. Building a loyal viewership base isn't impossible at this early stage, and I've already come across multiple testimonies of entrepreneurs who've been able to introduce their brand to a global audience by just using their phones and, in turn, are monetizing by selling services or products to a loyal fan/customer base.

"Live streaming is, by far, the closest form of media between an audience and broadcaster. They are getting what feels like a one-on-one with the broadcaster, even if there are hundreds of other viewers from all over the globe watching at the same time. More and more often I'm hearing people have put down the remote and are catching up on scopes," highlighted Alice Chase, a prominent lifestyle blogger at Thrill of the Chases and an early adopter of live streaming.

Chase adds that there is a familiarity that occurs in live streaming that doesn't exist in any other platform. The integration of comments by viewers and ability for broadcasters to provide an instantaneous response allows for a more rapid progression of connection. The ability to broadcast daily creates a very loyal following that a television network can't provide through traditional formats. These factors all contribute to why audiences may be more attracted to mobile live streaming than television.

We should also expect to see more branded integration in the streams of this new wave of social media influencers and live mobile content creators. This will afford brands a new way to promote their brands beyond the TV commercials that Madison Avenue created into more non-intrusive branded streams, that feel more like aligned content rather than intrusive advertising. Mobile live broadcasting is the successful attempt at merging live TV with the expediency and interconnectedness of social media.

No matter which side of the debate you are on, live streaming is here to stay, and its evolution will have an impact on the businesses of television, social media and content creation.