Periscope and the Future of Live Streaming

Periscope is awesome. For those who don’t know, Periscope is Twitter’s new live-streaming video app. Anyone, anywhere can show you the world they are seeing at this precise moment through the app. Here’s what I have seen on it so far:

-A sunset in Maui
-Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions with celebrities
-A tragedy unfold in New York
-Someone’s fridge (#showusyourfridge)


Following the undergrad admission decisions, I figured it would be interesting to broadcast a tour of the Stanford campus to prospective students, so I gave Periscope a whirl myself.


Admittingly, the app is still in a very nascent stage, reminiscent of Chatroulette. Most of the streams are of people either trying to figure out how to use the app or trolls using misleading titles to draw you in.


These mundane streams, however, don’t convey the massive potential that live streaming has. Here are some things I think are going to happen soon as live streaming takes off:


1) Instead of news channels, people will flock to Periscope to watch major events/tragedies


I was sitting in a classroom in my geography class on 9/11 when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center. By the time someone had told us what had happened, and we turned on the TV, both the towers were billowing with smoke.


Nowadays, we don’t turn to news channels on TV during tragedies. The news team doesn’t get to the scene fast enough to be able to transmit up to date information to the rest of the world. Instead, we go on Twitter to see what is happening and rely on the people nearby the incident to be our eyes and ears. That’s why it makes so much sense for Twitter to acquire Periscope.


When the terrorist shooting happened in Paris and the Unity March was organized, I shot this photo.



Unity March in Paris


My girlfriend posted it on Instagram, and CNN subsequently reached out to us after and asked us what it was like in France. They even asked us for permission to use the photo for their website.



If we had Periscope or Meerkat at the time, I would have been able to broadcast these videos, which I think would have conveyed the atmosphere even better.

2) Open houses will be conducted on Periscope


Buying a house is a frustrating experience. It’s hard to get the feel of a house online because the pictures are usually terrible. This is probably by design, so that you reach out to a realtor to see the place in person. The problem though is that touring all these places is a huge time commitment. When my parents wanted to buy a house, we would have an appointment every day to see a different place. We were only able to see two places at most a day, since it took a while to drive to each place, talk to the owner, etc.


With apps like Periscope, you could easily visit 10 places a day from the comfort of your home. Periscope is a win for realtors and owners because they can now show off the house to even more people, resulting in more offers. It’s a win for homebuyers because they now don’t have physically go to houses to narrow down their choices, saving them a ton of time.


3) Periscope is a pathway to personable fan engagement for celebrities and brands


I have seen a few broadcasts (mostly AMA) by celebrities and brands on Periscope. Pretty soon, I think more and more celebrities and brands will realize that Periscope is a great way to personal fan engagement. Musicians, for example, could reward their fans by showing them a new song they’ve recorded exclusively on Periscope. Top Gear could stream a drag race. Michelle Phan could put on makeup before a big event and live stream it to her fans


Periscope will also give rise to a new breed of celebrities and brands like Youtube did. I can foresee people starting weekly broadcasts of cooking sessions, dance classes or magic shows.


This is just the tip of the iceberg of what live streaming apps can do. Both Periscope and Meerkat are still nascent, so there are many features that still need to be added (like filtering out all the terrible streams).


But it’s clear that these apps are onto something big, so I’m excited to see how this will play out. Follow me on Twitter (@herrylian) to hear more on this topic or on Periscope (@herry) to see what I’m up to.

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