Facebook has taken its biggest swing yet at rivaling Twitter and Twitter-owned Periscope as the primary place to watch and stream live videos online. On Tuesday, Facebook said that it will start ranking live videos higher in people’s news feeds while those videos are being streamed live using Facebook’s live-streaming feature.
The move adds another way for people to find out if a friend, brand, publisher or celebrity is streaming live. Like Twitter and Periscope, Facebook already lets people subscribe to notifications when pages they follow start a live stream. But more importantly, the higher profile distribution could make Facebook a more attractive option when brands, celebrities and media companies are looking to stream something live.
Facebook already offered a larger potential audience than Twitter or Periscope, but Twitter and Periscope are considered more amenable to live content than Facebook, whose algorithmic news feed can prioritize popular-but-dated content over timely-but-not-yet-popular content. By treating live videos separately from regular videos, as Facebook is now doing, the social network improves its pitch as a platform that can get someone’s stream in front of the most people in the moment. That pitch is helped by the fact that Facebook’s audience spends more time watching a video while it’s live than after the stream has ended.
“People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live,” Facebook said in a company blog post announcing the move.
Facebook appears to be very interested in becoming the most popular live-streaming video platform online. Since adding the ability for some users to stream live video in August 2015, the company is in the process of rolling it out to normal people who use its iPhone and Android apps. Last week, Re/code reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is “obsessed” with live video and that the company’s video team has made live video their top priority.