This post was originally written for The Jungle, a weekly newsletter about the business of YouTube. Subscribe here.
By Sarah Ullman
“Meerkat rooms become living hashtags.” — Matt Mazzeo
Meerkat is a mobile app that allows you to live stream video and broadcast it to your Twitter feed. Videos disappear after the live stream, but can be saved to a user’s phone. The past few weeks have been exciting ones for the Meerkat founders, who developed the app as a “side project” and then pivoted their team after the app gained huge and sudden popularity, partially thanks to Product Hunt.
Background and context:
- What’s Meerkat? Explaining the New Video Service
- The Back Story of Meerkat: A Side Project That Took Off
- Live in the Time of Asynchronous
Also of note: Twitcasting (same concept) has been popular in Japan for years. That service has a vibrant and engaged creator community. Thanks to TechCrunch Japan editor Ken Nishimura for the heads up.
What does this mean for video creators?
A few ideas (I’m brainstorming here):
- The return of event-ized programming. A live stream is by nature temporal and creators that can command attention at a specific moment in time are potentially more valuable. Think about the wild rates for SuperBowl ads, or the power of live sports in general.
- Speaking of sports: what will prevent fans from broadcasting from their seats at a game? The broadcast rights for live sporting events are huge business and I bet NBC will not be pleased if Meerkat continues to be popular when the Olympics roll around.
- 360 video + Meerkat. We’re a ways off from this, but imagine the possibilities of 360 video as a live broadcast. Political protests, travel adventures, concerts (ticket sales for a Meerkat broadcast!).
- Vloggers have already established a strong connection with their audience — this is one very intimate step closer.
- Education. MOOCs and remote lectures would be far more interesting if you could ask a question from the comfort of your living room! Meerkat’s rudimentary chat function allows this.
- Backstage or BTS content. I bet John Green fans would love to explore the set of “Looking for Alaska,” no?
- New genres. YouTube opened up our idea of “content” and created endless varieties of video. What new formats will Meerkat enable?
- Your ideas? Email me or find me on Twitter.
This brainstorm is only the beginning; my brain is churning with ideas and opportunities for the creator community. Matt Mazzeo used a “campfire” metaphor to describe Meerkat, which immediately conjures thoughts of troubadours, storytelling, ghost stories and above all, creators and conversation. More to come.
Sarah Ullman (@thesillysully) is a writer and creative consultant focusing on the YouTube ecosystem. She writes a weekly newsletter about the business of YouTube called “The Jungle” (subscribe here) and specializes in helping “traditional media” clients transition to the digital landscape.