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Facebook To Live Stream Allows Retailers To Demo Products

As Australians take to watching IP streaming on a variety of devices Facebook has moved to expanded its live video capability with the introduction of a brand new service called Facebook Live which will allow retailers to stream video of new products to consumers who have opted in to a preferred customer service.

The company is attacking live video on several fronts, a key element is the introduction of new tools for users while working with media companies and celebrities to generate videos.

In some cases, Facebook is paying outsiders to post videos on the network. Recode earlier reported Facebook was willing to pay for content.

Facebook is using the Groups and Events pieces of its software to get more people to create and share video.BN-NK900_FBLive_J_20160406141541

Among the changes: users can now stream live video to select people such as family, instead of all followers, and live video can be folded into events.

This will allow a parent to stream video from a dance recital to a small group, for example, while a celebrity can talk to followers from a concert stage.

Retailers such as fashion houses can stream live feeds to customers while consumer electronics retailers could show off new drones or smartphones.

The move is the biggest challenge yet by Facebook to online rivals, including Twitter’s Periscope live-streaming service, Snapchat’s video features and Alphabet’s YouTube, as well as a challenge to broadcast television.

Live video is becoming a highly competitive feature on social platforms, with companies competing to stream major sports events and exclusive video components from high-profile events such as the Oscar and Grammy awards shows.

Advertisers are particularly attracted to video that reaches a younger audience.

Facebook Live offers streaming video in real time and was launched last year.

Last night Facebook added features, including a map of video streams around the world, expanded search, and filters that echo those on other platforms. Videos can be turned into black-and-white shots, like on Facebook’s Instagram, for instance, and soon users will be able to add doodles, a nod to a feature on Snapchat.

Product head Chris Cox hosted a live video session last night to advertise the product, and said Facebook hopes it will be used for everything from intimate family moments, such as a baby’s first steps, celebrity-hosted question-and-answer sessions and breaking news casts.

Facebook said it is paying some partners to use Live but would not say who they are. Re/code tech news site said Facebook is paying The New York Times, BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post to use Live. Thomson Reuters is also using the service, a company spokeswoman said.

Facebook’s app now features Live prominently in the display bar for many users on iOS and Android across 60 countries.

While Facebook’s News Feed has long had videos, largely shared from other websites such as YouTube, the company had not heavily pushed its own video products.

Its executives have, however, advertised the 1.6 billion-person social media site’s video reach on earnings calls. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told investors in January that 500 million people watch videos on Facebook every day.
Facebook is also carving out a bigger video home inside its mobile app, by swapping the prominent “Messenger” button with one for live video. Don’t cry for Messenger.

The standalone app is doing fine on its own with 800 million users.

In its blog post, Facebook said the features launch Wednesday. The new button will roll out to Android and iOS users globally in the coming weeks.

Facebook users have seen a growing number of notifications about live streaming from friends and pages, such as media outfits like The Wall Street Journal. Live video is now one more piece of content in the news-feed algorithm; when video is streaming live, it will get priority, for example. Another of Facebook’s new features is to let people invite friends to watch a video with them, part of the sharing ecosystem.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, a regular streamer on the service he founded, planned a live feed Wednesday to talk about the new updates.

Facebook’s past efforts show it is willing to play the long game on monetization. For example, it slowly trickled video into people’s news feeds before it started showing “sponsored” video ads. Currently, there aren’t any ads on live video. Step one is to get people comfortably hooked. Then comes tweaking the experience, and later monetization. A Facebook spokesperson said the company is currently focused on the experience of creating and watching videos, and that it will help partners monetize as soon as possible.

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