Facebook Gives Live-Stream Chat Add-On to Everyone

Facebook’s live status update stream alongside CNN’s live video stream of Obama’s inauguration was a seminal event in combining the web and TV. Sure, we don’t want to make too much of a simple topical stream of comments, but it’s a start.

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Since then, Facebook has worked with content creators such as the NBA, the Jonas Brothers and the DEMO Conference to enable what it’s now calling a “Live Stream Box” on their own sites and Facebook pages. Today, it’s releasing the Live Stream Box to any site using Facebook Connect.

When the box is enabled, users will be prompted to log into their Facebook accounts from a page where they want to watch a live video broadcast. They will then be able to toggle between an “everyone watching” tab, which shows all global status updates submitted by people watching through the app, as well as a “friends” tab which just shows all their friends’ updates in real time. But without any filtering for relevant keywords and the like, it seems like it will be rare for relevant and personal commentary to find its way through. It’s not every day you watch a presidential inauguration alongside literally everyone you know.

However, the Live Stream Box makes use of your social relationships in other ways. Any comment made through the app is accompanied by a tagline when it shows up in friends’ Facebook feeds, (e.g., “via Jonas Bros webchat”), enticing more people to join the live stream right as it’s happening.

Facebook says it will take “just a minute” to set up a Live Stream Box. The company suggests it can be used for concerts, speeches, sporting events, webcasts, TV shows, presentations and webinars. If content owners don’t have a live-streaming partner of their own, Ustream is already compatible, having built live event integration for the Jonas Brothers. (Ustream is not a preferred provider, says Facebook; it was just there first. Other live broadcasters are welcome to join as well.)

Live events are an optimal occasion to surface social connections. During a May 28 Jonas Brothers webcast, 1.5 million posts were made using Facebook and more than 100,000 users started watching after seeing a friend’s status message. For more on where I think this social TV stuff is going, see my lengthy feature on GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

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