Periscope for celebs

Facebook Live will now tell you when a livestream starts

Facebook has updated the Live service it debuted in August to make it easier for people to know when one of their favorite public figures is streaming with the tool. Now, instead of having to chance upon a livestream while it’s still, ya know, live, users can subscribe to a feed and receive notifications when a stream starts. (The finished video is also saved to the streamer’s Facebook page for posterity.)

Live was exclusive to celebrities when it debuted, but it has since expanded to include other public figures like journalists and politicians. It’s basically the same thing as Periscope, the streaming app Twitter introduced earlier this year, with a focus on people with name recognition instead of anyone with a phone.

In addition to making it easier for people to use the service, Facebook has also shared for what appears to be the first time information about Live’s popularity. The company says that more than 60 percent of broadcasters are outside the United States; that some streams attracted 200,000 viewers; and that a stream where Vin Diesel spoke with his fans was seen by more than 1 million people.

There might be some contention about what Facebook counts as someone watching the livestreams. The archived streams automatically play, much like other videos shared to the service, and I suspect the livestreams do the same. It’s possible that a Facebook user scrolling through their News Feed might have become an unwitting tally mark simply because the video briefly started to play.

I wrote about the problems with these types of measurements earlier today when I covered Snapchat’s reported 6 billion daily video views. I argued that these measurements are all but meaningless, and that the only thing that matters is how these numbers change. (I’ve reached out to Facebook to clarify how they’re measuring views and will update this post if they respond to my inquiry.)

So is this proof that Facebook’s attempts to woo celebrities are working? Might Live be the first copycat service Facebook has introduced in a while that won’t slip silently into oblivion? These numbers suggest that both of these things are true, but until we see some followup figures and Facebook clarifies how it’s coming by these measurements, we won’t have any kind of definitive answer.