Meerkat and Periscope Put Live Streaming in the Hands of Attendees

April 10, 2015

Up until a few weeks ago if you typed Meerkat into a Google search you would see images of small mongooses. When searching the term periscope, you would get pages and pages of references to an optical instrument.

Today, those same Google searches provide pages and pages of content  referring to two much-talked about apps that let users stream live video from their mobile phone.

Meerkat was the first to flood news feeds when attendees at SXSW started using it. John Shinal writing for USA Today said, “the most popular uses of the app was using Meerkat to stream others using Meerkat.”

Ben Rubin, co-founder and CEO of Meerkat, boasted in a tweet that one person built the app in just eight weeks.

Once users fire up the app and start live streaming, a tweet is automatically sent out to their followers with a link to the stream. Anyone can click on that link and view and comment on the stream. But they have to catch it live. The stream is not stored for viewing later.

That was the way it worked until Twitter announced its acquisition of rival startup Periscope. Very quickly, Twitter began restricting access to its data. Data that includes who’s following whom on the social network. Meerkat was left scrambling to come up with another way for its user to discover its live streams.

While Meerkat is currently lagging behind Periscope in popularity in the App Store, both apps are seeing engagement as users are experimenting with live streaming.

Event organizers are beginning to ask what impact will apps like these have on their events? Attendees could very easily live stream keynote presentations, educational sessions, and trade show floor activity. All content that people pay to come to see.

Attendees could also live stream new product demonstrations, all the people they are getting to meet, and the fun they are having at networking events. Activities that might encourage someone to attend in person next year.

Bob Bowman, MLB Advanced Media CEO and president said a report by the Wall Street Journal saying Major League Baseball would be banning the use of live streaming apps was not correct.

“I think we all just need to pump the brakes here, this is an issue looking for a headline. It’s not going to be an issue; it’s going to be helpful to the game of baseball,” Bowman said in an interview with CNBC.

It’s too early to tell if live streaming apps like these will have a positive or negative effect on trade shows and expos. Mobile devices, social media and the Internet of Things have already changed the way attendees share and interact with events and organizers have adapted. Live streaming apps are just another social tool organizers will have to evaluate and plan for.

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