If you think live streaming is the domain of video game players and their fans, think again.
Twitch.tv, the industry-leading streaming website
From a technical standpoint, streaming is easier today than ever before. Live stream applications are quite flexible and will autodetect the best server and best bitrate setting to use, based on your specific location and available bandwidth.
Here are five emerging segments of streaming that will help define the future of live media consumption.
1. Lifecasting. This term describes streamers who broadcast content from their daily lives, with streams ranging from less than an hour to some experimenting with 24/7 streams. Twitch.tv's new "IRL" section is dedicated to lifecasting, and as the ability to stream from mobile devices continues to grow, particularly through services like Facebook Live, we can expect to see new and unique content being shared live, from sightseeing and tourism to the broadcasting of major life events.
Brand opportunities: home goods, cosmetics, tourism, and environmental and charitable causes.
2. Social eating. A phenomenon that is already incredibly popular in Asia, social eating is when streamers broadcast themselves eating while describing the taste, preparation, presentation and other aspects of a meal. A social-eating broadcaster can prep, cook and eat a meal while answering viewer questions in real time.
Brand opportunities: food brands, grocery chains, local restaurants and food tourism.
3. Acting and drama. Live streamed theatrical content allows broadcasters to easily produce live improv-style shows, while mixing in prerecorded content. An acting and drama stream used recently by Marvel Studios was the "Assist Me!" series by Twitch streamer and YouTuber Maximillian Dood. By sponsoring the streamed show, Marvel promoted the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 video game in a unique way.
Brand opportunities: entertainment and popular culture brands.
4. Live music. Producing a live stream musical performance does not require much more work to broadcast when a band or group is already gathering for regularly scheduled performances or practices. A webcam and some good microphones are all that is needed. The performers can benefit by getting live, on-the-fly feedback from viewers.
Brand opportunities: brands across the music industry, from musical instruments to musical venues and events.
5. Streams run by interaction. A popular recent example was Twitch Plays Pokemon, an innovative production in which viewers entered specific commands in the chat bar that resulted in real action on-screen in the Pokemon game being played. This idea has potential outside of video games, too: Imagine a live board game where decisions are controlled by viewers, or a live-action detective mystery in the style of Carmen Sandiego! Streams run by interaction have massive potential to create unique, live-interactive experiences.
Most livestream platforms, including Twitch, YouTube Live, Beam, and more, have been created with interaction in mind, and include live, text-based chat room of sorts alongside the video content. A basic example of interaction is simply encouraging viewers to join the chat, where their questions can be answered. But this is just a start. You could also employ a chatbot to set up specific commands for viewers, such as the stream's schedule, details, or sponsored product discounts. There are a number of chatbot options that are super easy to implement and use, including Moobot and Nightbot.
Brand opportunities: Toy and board game companies, attractions like cultural landmarks, museums and amusement parks.
Live streaming is rapidly growing, with room to expand into new, interactive communities. Brands and advertisers that understand the wide appeal of live streaming will have a huge advantage in reaching new audiences and creating a lasting impression.