Guess who said this: “People don’t want to miss out on great broadcasts that are live right now”.
No, it wasn’t Reed Hastings of Netflix. Sentences like that are banned in his mouth.
You could be forgiven for thinking it came from a TV executive, but you would be wrong (and I forgive you).
No, it was said yesterday by a Facebook executive, one Fidji Simo, as he announced a revamp of Facebook Live, its live streaming service.
Cue furrowed brows. No one wants live these days do they? Why bother when you can have on-demand? What the hell is going on? Reed – help!
Twitter is at it too, announcing yesterday that it has bought the rights to live-stream the NFL’s Thursday Night Football. Great news for NFL fans, although they can already watch the NFL in the UK on Sky Sports.
These two tales tell us something. They tell us that the tech companies are cottoning on to the fact that live is important. People want live entertainment. YouTube has also tried its hand at broadcasting.
It makes sense; Facebook and Twitter are live platforms. No one – except me – hunts through people’s old tweets and posts. We’re all hitting refresh all the time, gobbling up what’s on now.
TV of course doesn’t need an F5 button. The live schedules – which account for nearly 90% of TV viewing in the UK – are magnetic, brimming with every flavour of content you could want, and complemented by the on-demand players all the TV broadcasters have invested in.
Broadcasters, the experts in delivering live, are also experimenting with how to use it – be it live episodes of soaps or innovations like ITV’s live Sound of Music last Christmas.
Live continues to thrive because humans like humanity. If we can, we prefer watching things as they happen, preferably in the company of others. This fulfils a basic human need to share, belong, and not miss out or risk having things spoiled for us.
While it is true that on-demand services have replaced some live TV viewing (although not that much), that’s because we never had the choice before. On-demand has kindly taken some of the pressure off having to watch live, but it won’t remove the desire. And social media like Facebook and Twitter have reinforced the power of the live TV experience, giving voice to viewers.
So it seems everyone wants to join the live party. After all, parties would be pretty rubbish if no one went to them at the same time.