I’ve written a lot lately on products that enable users to broadcast themselves live over the interment. These products are mature enough to be used by almost everyone, and hype is building up in this field, slowly but surely.
But what is the real potential of this segment? Are we looking at companies that will become the next YouTube, or at a niche market segment with limited growth potential?
The difference between live broadcasting and edited content is a major one. While edited content allows creators to correct their mistakes, add visuals to their content and create an overall better experience for users, live broadcasting requires special kind of creators – ones who can immediately respond to their audience, talk fluently on a specific topic and interact on the fly with viewers and co-hosts.
Therefore, I don’t believe we will see as much traffic and content in live sites as in the YouTubes of the world. Add the fact that live content usually does not contain copyright infringing material, and you get a content arena with original content only, most of it by unknown creators.
What kind of usage pattern will increase the economic value of this medium? In my opinion we should not look at this medium as a stand alone technology, but as another tool in new media creators’ tool box. I’ve started a discussion about different ways to use this medium here. Companies that will tailor their products to the specific needs of their customers, rather then leave the platform as a general purpose site, can increase both usage and loyalty.
Another way of increasing the economical value of this medium is by helping Indie creators use it as a part of covering live events – just like any other news organization. Technology provider that will embrace Indie content creators, and enable them to cover events of their interest, will create a new kind of media arena – independent and alternative live coverage of niche events. Companies can encourage users to use their platform by providing them with specialized equipment such as wireless cams, to cover high profile events. Creativity, like in other area, is the key here.
There is no single answer to the question I’ve raised in the headline of this post. However, one thing is certain – plain feature wars are not the answer for creating economic value in this emerging market.