13 Hollywood Stars Buzzing on Facebook Live: The Rock, Ricky Gervais, Serena Williams, Donald Trump

How A-listers are embracing the social network’s VIP-only live-streaming video app a week after launch

Last Updated: August 11, 2015 @ 2:16 PM

It’s been six days since Facebook launched its celebrity-only live video service and Hollywood is logging on to take it for a stream.

Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Amell and Michael Bublé are just some of the stars who have broadcast publicly to fans on Facebook Live from the gym, from the car and even the bathtub. For sheer volume, Ricky Gervais’ daily streams seem intent on turning his heat-seeking cat Ollie into a viral star, while Food Network star Alton Brown used his inaugural Facebook stream for a live cooking demo, turning a second-screen experience into the main event.

Donald Trump even used the feature after landing his private jet in Cleveland for the GOP Debate Thursday night. There have been more than 2.1 million views of Trump’s family disembarking to a traditional media swarm. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz went live to 22,000 users from the back of a flatbed truck in Mississippi Tuesday morning.

For those just catching up, Live is a feature within Facebook’s Mentions app, a VIP-only tool offered to verified actors, athletes, musicians and public figures that allows them to connect with fans.

Other notable users who’ve test-streamed the service include Luke BryanLarry HernandezBen PhillipsAlton BrownLester HoltSerena Williams and Lindsey Vonn.

Live streaming video at the touch of a button is a social media hot topic this year. The launch of Live serves as Facebook’s answer to competing platforms Periscope (owned by Twitter) and Meerkat, and also aligns with Facebook’s aim to become a major video destination. But the social network is offering some distinct features with its Live service, which includes saving video streams to a celebrity’s Facebook page so that fans who missed them can watch at a later time.

However, Live’s exclusive nature has sparked some media criticism, since the average user doesn’t have access to the service beyond serving as a receptive audience to drive up video views.

“Facebook Mentions is available on iOS for rich people. Basics should continue to use Meerkat and Periscope,” griped The Verge while The Next Web opined, “Facebook thinks celebrities are more interesting than you and it’s dead wrong.”

The rollout strategy for Facebook Live mirrors the one followed by rival streaming app Periscope, which beta-tested its live video service exclusively with celebrities, though those streams weren’t viewable by the public.

Facebook would not confirm whether the feature will eventually roll out to its 1.3 billion users, saying only, “We want to get feedback from both public figures and viewers as we evolve the product.”