As the popularity of live streaming continues to climb, Facebook announced Wednesday that it’s adding new features to Facebook Live.
Now users will have the ability to go live in Facebook Groups and Events, access interactive features (including live reactions, replaying comments and live filters) and invite friends to watch a live stream with them.
There will also be a dedicated place on Facebook’s mobile app “where you can discover live video that the world is talking about” and a Facebook Live Map on desktop, which will give people in more than 60 countries the opportunity to share live video.
“Videos are worth a thousand pictures,” Fidji Simo, the product director in charge of Facebook’s Live video push, said at an event held in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning. Simo said Facebook’s video efforts date back to 2007, but the push to live video began in 2013 when the company began thinking about video “as pictures coming to life” (yes, she said, like in Harry Potter).
Then came the interest from consumers. For example, 70 million people uploaded Ice Bucket Challenge videos to the platform. “One trend we’ve seen is people want to have more immersive experiences,” Simo added.
Facebook first launched Live in August of 2015 with a handful of celebrities including The Rock, Ashley Tisdale and Serena Williams. Since then, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested that he wants to expand its offerings to the public.
In February, a source told Re-Code that Zuckerberg is “obsessed with getting Live to work.” While Facebook has become a popular destination for those looking to live stream, the market is increasingly competitive. Analysts and experts continue to point to live streaming as the next big format in the digital video space.
The format has become especially useful for attracting younger users, who are drawn to the ability to connect with one another in real time with immediate commentary.
Early on, Periscope and Meerkat dominated the space by offering creators on their platforms “one-click streaming.” But now, bigger players are getting in on the trend.
YouTube is reportedly creating a new live streaming app called YouTube Connect. StreamUp, launched by Maker Studios and Endemol alum Will Keenan, recently announced its first slate of live streaming originals.
Live streaming platform YouNow also stirred up some new original content with two food-related shows, including one with RokerLabs, a New York-based video and live streaming studio spearheaded by Today co-host Al Roker.
Even more recently, at South By Southwest, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen unveiled a new foodie-geared live streaming platform called Nom.
The new Facebook features will be rolling out on iOS and Android over the coming weeks. “Since launching Facebook Live last summer to public figures via our Mentions app and more recently to everyone in the U.S. using our iOS and Android apps, we’ve been surprised and delighted with how people are using live video to connect and interact with each other all over the world,”
Facebook said in its press release. “We’ve been humbled by all the amazing and creative ways that people have used Facebook Live so far, and we’re committed to creating the best experience for everyone who wants to create, watch and interact with live videos on Facebook.”
Also on Wednesday, the company celebrated live video with #24Live, which featured 24 hours of the best Facebook Live videos from the world’s most interesting perspectives aggregated onto one page. Both Ellen DeGeneres and Nicki Minaj will be going Live from DeGeneres’ Facebook page to take questions from fans to celebrate the roll out of new features.
Others who participated in the event include Zuckerberg, Harry Potter’s Warwick Davis and Evanna Lynch from Universal Studios Hollywood’s new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Kevin Hart and Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan from Amazon’s Catastrophe.