Periscope was one of those things I started hearing a lot about all of a sudden without actually really having any idea what it was, or what a change it might herald in online video.
Put simply, Periscope is a livestreaming mobile app, and that kind of makes it the holy grail of social media right now. While livestreaming has been around for quite some time and with multiple platforms, it’s always been a medium that requires a fair amount of time and preparation. You need pretty good bandwidth, a good camera, a microphone, maybe a background… especially if you’re up against the professional atmosphere that Twitch and its ilk try to cultivate (and I can’t blame them for that, once you consider how much streaming the LCS must make for them.) But Periscope only requires a smartphone or tablet, an internet or data connection, and you’re good to go.
While Periscope might seem designed for quickly catching big events to the point where a number of live sports events have actually banned it’s use, a quick browse shows that a lot of the livestreams are quite ordinary in their subject matter. Someone out for a walk, cooking dinner or just chatting to their views? Log in at any time and you’ll find plenty of that.
One of the most interesting things about how easy mobile video is that it’s become is that the subject matter has become sort of, well perhaps mundane is the wrong word. Mundane implies that it doesn’t have any value and I don’t think that’s true, after all, people want to watch it. But when you can record, watch and keep pretty much as much video as you like, so you can just set the camera going and play around. Likewise, viewers have more video, live or recorded, than one person could ever watch in a lifetime, all entirely for free. So why not spend a few minutes watching someone make curry or play fetch with their dog – it’s a low value, low engagement, low energy few minutes of entertainment.