Facebook is taking a swing at Twitch while also one-upping its mobile livestreaming video competitors. Today, all users can go Live directly from Facebook’s desktop website via their webcam, stream through professional equipment and software hooked up to a desktop, and broadcast gameplay from their computer.
Previously, Facebook had only allowed Pages to stream from their desktop, not users, and only had limited gameplay streaming partnerships with game developers like Blizzard. There will now be a Live button on the desktop status update composer.
The ability to use streaming hardware and software to broadcast straight to the News Feed could allow creators to add on-screen graphics, titles, and overlays to make their streams more fancy and polished. Here’s a step by step guide to how connecting hardware or software to Facebook Live works.
Opening up on desktop takes Facebook Live beyond Twitter and Periscope’s options, and brings it into competition with longer-running services like YouTube, Ustream, and Livestream as well as startups like YouNow. Facebook tells me it foresees desktop streaming to be useful for activities like Q&As and vlogging where holding your phone in your hand might be shaky and annoying for both creators and viewers.
Facebook’s aggressive push into livestreaming indicates its goal of owning the verb “Live”, and being the place people broadcast when there’s something worth sharing. While Periscope launched first in April 2015, Facebook quickly moved to roll out Live and add a Live API for broadcasting from professional equipment. Periscope only added an API yesterday. Now with the desktop launch, Facebook is looking to be a ubiquitous broadcasting tool.
While the content on Live might not be great yet, and there’s been some troubling broadcasts of violence that Facebook promises it’s working to prevent, it’s still early for the medium. If Facebook can lock-down the content type now, it could enjoy years of broadcasts that give it exclusive content to attract users to the News Feed and space to run lucrative video ad breaks. While mobile is always Facebook’s focus, adding desktop streaming means you can broadcast however you like.