Today, at 6 p.m. EST Facebook will officially join the real time Web-streaming revolution with the launch of Facebook Live–a dedicated service that will be a vehicle for official Facebook news streams, press events, and special “celebrity events.”
We’ve already seen the guts of Facebook Live in action, disguised as a temporary system put in place to broadcast the recent F8 developer conference. Building on the success of that, Facebook has decided to formalize the service as an in-Facebook app, with the capability of having live interactions in real-time between the presenter of the Live event and the audience–it’s social media video interaction pushed to the max on the world’s most popular social network.
The Live app can be appended to any Facebook page, which may well end up as a popular practice since it may let Page owners keep viewers on their page for longer. There’s also the option to linkout to the Live stream via Twitter or Google Buzz or so on thanks to a dedicated URL shortener (livestre.am). To kick off the new service, actress America Ferrera will be appearing on the first Live stream to talk about her Sundance Film Festival entry, called “The Dry Land.” And this already indicates how powerful the Web video service could turn out to be–thanks to the buzz around the new system, Ferrera’s film will be getting a huge amount more attention than it otherwise may have done. Remember, 500 million folks use Facebook.
But is this all Live may turn out to be? Web video is a hot topic, with even music giant MTV clambering aboard the bandwagon at the moment. Yet Facebook’s not known for its skills with embedded media at all–so this new effort represents something of a big step for Mark Zuckerberg’s huge social network. Rival MySpace is still–somewhat oddly, given its failing status–a better home for streaming music and video than Facebook can offer, with its restrictive look and feel and tightly locked-down UI (ultimately the gaudy explosion of nonsense that MySpace’s free-form UI allowed may have helped bring its downfall, so we can’t blame Facebook too much for avoiding the same trap). Facebook Live could also be a powerful promotional vehicle, full of interesting content, yet at the same time it could quickly turn into a bland and fun-free PR affair for the latest celebrity what-not, and could end up being quickly ignored.
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