Revisiting Periscope

It’s been eight months since I last blogged about Periscope, the mobile live streaming app which as I described it was ‘the holy grail of social media’ – an app which would totally change streaming – only at the time I wrote that, I hadn’t entirely envisioned how. Over the past year, Periscope has covered world-changing political events, built up a community of streamers, and even spawned a convention – this great Huffington post covers most of the details. Since Periscope, which was bought out by Twitter for nearly $90 million, and now has around 20 million users, is now a year old, I decided to revisit it and see what has changed.

I’ll admit, I’ve haven’t used Periscope very much since – the first few times I tried I did find it a little clunky in terms of finding broadcasts to watch (I ended up only watching ones that I found via Twitter), as well as chatting without accidentally clicking off the stream.

Intrigued, as I started writing this, I headed into the app on my phone to see what I could catch. I ended up in stream from Tokyo of a man painting a wall in a darkened room to an accompaniment of Daft Punk (I wondered, would Periscope start falling foul of the same music/video copyright issues as other streaming services? – it is, after all, already banned from some major sporting events). I bounced through a few other streams, using the map function and catching a few seconds of a Korean karaoke bar, a sci-fi convention in Hollywood, and then the whole app abruptly crashed, which I’m putting down to my currently problematic internet rather than Periscope itself. The content seemed pretty varied, although many streams didn’t use descriptive titles, which made it hard to tell. (Does the platform ever have problems with explicit content? I’m not sure how they would monitor that.)

The stream quality seems much better than it used to be – which may be down to better phone technology in the last year as much as the app. But while there are undoubtedly some people taking the app to new heights with what they can stream, the fundamental uses that I wrote about last summer – with people using it to broadcast little parts of their everyday lives, don’t seem changed at all.