There’s an interesting trend afoot in the world of live video streaming, and on the surface, it seems to be a mystery. YouTube live video viewership is up even though content creators haven’t really made any changes to their programming. To figure out what’s really going on requires a look behind the scenes and a little digging.
The first and biggest reason for this uptick is thanks to a YouTube algorithm tweak. As you probably know, the videos you first see when you visit and browse YouTube aren’t just random. They’re listed there because a complicated algorithm used all kinds of data to find the videos it thinks you’d like as well as promote the videos they want you to see.
While YouTube has offered live video for years now, it spent a long time as just another option. Then came Facebook Live, which has aggressively pushed live video. This, along with such platforms as Twitch and Periscope, helped sell the concept of live video to both content creators and end users. As people on both sides bought into this concept more and more it only made sense for YouTube to adjust their algorithm to begin highlighting live videos. Clearly, it’s worked.
Another big part of this trend is the fact that people still see YouTube as the primary go-to for any video on the web. A recent study by Livestream found that YouTube is still the most popular place for people to go when they want a live video. In fact, 70 percent said YouTube is their favorite video platform.
Then there’s the fact that while the actual content may not have changed, the number of live videos has dramatically increased. This is partly because it’s much easier for a content creator to make a live video. There’s no editing required, or posting, so they simply “go live” and when they’re done, the video remains in the archive to watch anytime. This has cut hours upon hours of post-production out of the equation.
We’re also seeing quite a bit more live video created by companies and brands. For businesses, live video really makes sense. The Livestream study found that 80 percent of people would rather watch a live video than read a blog, and 82 percent prefer live video to a social post.
There’s a unique sense of urgency with a live video. The viewer tunes in to learn about breaking news or see something happening this very moment. We used to get this from television, but as millions are cutting the cord, it shouldn’t be a shock that people are turning to the web to get live content, just like they’ve shifted to Netflix or Hulu to access pre-recorded shows.
While YouTube is seeing a boost in live viewership, they are not alone – other platforms, such as Twitch, are up as well. Twitch originally started with nothing but live gaming streams, and you could argue this platform is the grandfather of live eSports viewing. Interestingly, Twitch continues to beat YouTube and Facebook in live gaming views, even after both platforms have made major efforts to woo gamers. That tells us that while viewership is up across the board, there are still platforms where some niches work better than others. Now Twitch has opened up to all kinds of live video, having announced late last year they’d be offering live streaming of NFL and NBA G League games, bringing live professional basketball and football to the platform.
While brands and content creators adjust to these trends they can get the upper hand by not choosing one platform over the other. Easy-to-use services like Switchboard Cloud allow streamers to go live from one device and send that live video to multiple platforms simultaneously.
One thing this data tells us for sure is that live video streaming is here to stay, and YouTube most certainly is as well.