Facebook wants Live Video to be the future, paying close to $50mn to celebrities and publishers to create live video and prioritizing it in their newsfeed algorithm. While Facebook may be making the most headlines right now, it’s not the only company putting the spotlight  on live video. In the last year Meerkat (now pivoted), Periscope (now owned by Twitter), YouNow and most recently YouTube and tumblr launched live streaming.

So, why is Facebook prioritizing streaming video? Because it “is looking to compete for television advertising... [and] is anxious about the future. People are sharing less about themselves, which slows Facebook’s growth and cuts at the heart of its most profitable product, the News Feed…[this] is one attempt to solve that problem.” 

Live streaming may very well be a Facebook driven play for revenue and relevance, and not necessarily a question of demand. For instance, this recent Reuters study reports that over 3/4ths of people rely on text for their news, finding it faster and more convenient than video. What’s more, these findings apply to video at large -- not just live video; a majority of people prefer text to any type of video when getting their news.

Here, we look at different video formats:

Museums || Media

An imperfect comparison, but there are certainly some similarities. Not to mention the same problems -- developing new audiences, convincing those audiences to give them money, running on tight margins, creating sustainable businesses. Museums, of course, can sell individual pieces in their collection -- and increase the value of those pieces somewhat artificially (no judgement). Not a luxury that media has. 

We could probably work together more. 

Facebook is a content creator

An excellent piece on re/code used Facebook and media companies as an example when considering "what happens when what you do is now done by someone else.But, the author didn't take it far enough, arguing that Facebook (a platform) now does two of the five things that media companies traditionally did, here:

But actually, Facebook does all five.

1. Curates via algorithm (and apparently people too)

2. Distributes to audiences through their platform. 

3. Monetizes through advertising. 

4. Hosts content through Instant Articles.

5. Creates content by paying publishers to post certain formats, for instance Live Video, and through its acquisitions like Oculus Rift, which creates both hardware and some proof of concept VR experiences. 

Now, some may argue that Facebook isn't really "creating" but sponsoring content. And to a certain extent that is true, but it is certainly moving more towards creating, and it is naive to think they won't become a "publisher." More likely is that Facebook just won't call themselves that. 

Facebook is already a concern to publishers, who are losing control over the distribution of their content. But, at least for now they still create the content that Facebook distributes. What happens to publishers when Facebook decides to properly move into content production?

It seems likely that those who have niche business and have already moved to subscription models -- showing that individuals are willing to pay for their content -- will be okay, but will have to figure out how to work that model into distributed content. More teasers (a nice example is what FastCo does with Medium) or working with other publishers to build a paywall on/with Facebook (Google's AMP works with subscription models, for instance), seem to plausible outcomes.

But, what happens to everyone else?