Since its launch in early 2015, Periscope has become a go-to app for live content. The Twitter-owned service has hosted live feeds of everything from concerts to breaking news such as the flooding currently happening on the East Coast. Despite the diversity of topics presented on the platform, every live video has had one thing in common: It was shot using a smartphone.
Now all that is changing with the launch of Periscope Producer, a new feature in the app that gives news organizations, individuals with their own web shows, and the rest of us the opportunity to stream video on Periscope from somewhere other than their smartphone. It positions service—which also feeds its streams to Twitter—as a stronger player in the growing live video space, and transforms the platform into a more useful tool for professional video creators.
"When when we launched Periscope over a year and a half ago our focus was almost exclusively mobile content," says Kayvon Beykpour, CEO of Periscope. "The idea with Producer is, we're taking a big step toward allowing any live broadcast, whether it's captured on a mobile device or otherwise, to be essentially be piped into Periscope and, vicariously, [to] Twitter."
In order to work with Producer, a video just needs to be streamed online somewhere. A link to that content—be it from a studio camera or just your computer's desktop—can be added within your Periscope settings as an additional source. Then it will replace the traditional stream from your smartphone's camera within the app. From there, you can start and stop a broadcast and interact with viewers just like any other Periscope.
During a press event, Beykpour showed a demo by Periscoper Alex Pettitt. With the help of a piece of software called OBS Studio, Pettitt was able to create an upper-third overlay where he displayed information about the topic he was talking about—similar to a TV news program—as well as display ads and switch seamlessly between content on his phone and desktop computer, all while maintaining a single Periscope broadcast.
And he’s not the only one who has been trying the feature out. Brands such as Xbox, Univision, Disney, ABC News, and Fox have all been test-driving Producer over the past six weeks. You may have even seen a Producer broadcast. Louis Vuitton used it to broadcast its Fashion Week runway show live, and a number of news stations have used the platform to broadcast everything from on-scene coverage to simulcasts of their traditional news programs.
Twitter is doing deals to broadcast high-profile events such as the presidential debates and NFL games. Producer opens the door for others to live-stream professional-looking content on . And it can also be used to do things like live-stream gameplay from a console or mobile phone, or virtual reality content from a set of VR goggles.
"While we haven't announced anything publicly, we've been behind the scenes getting access to partners," Beykpour says. "We've been working with partners to actually test out how the model works, how the quality of the video works, and all the mechanics around actually making a live stream not from a mobile device come to life."
While you can live-stream mobile gameplay now, Beykpour suggests that in the future developers might choose to enable Periscope-specific game functionality. For instance, giving a heart to someone who is live-streaming a game of Flappy Bird might make the bird move faster, or typing "Bigger" in the comments might make the pipes in the game larger and harder to navigate.
"That kind of extends the boundary of what you can do in a live medium," says Beykpour. "The reason why we started Periscope is not just for the novelty of being able to create a live broadcast; that’s interesting but it's been done before. What we found interesting was what can you do with a live audience when you have [a] synchronous group of people watching the broadcaster who can respond to that."
Periscope Producer is available now to select Twitter brand partners, video creators, and media organizations and currently requires the feed to be initiated from an iOS device (Producer users can then pull the live feed from any URL). Beykpour says that anyone who want to the opportunity to try the feature out can express interest by filling out an online form.