If you can't beat 'em, join them? Comcast to offer live-streaming features similar to Periscope and Meerkat
In terms of boxing excitement, Saturday night's Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was a total snooze. However, as predicted, the PPV event ended up being an enormous victory for Periscope and Meerkat.
Users of both live-streaming applications tuned their mobile phones onto the expensive PPV broadcast of the event in large numbers, beaming out the fight to free for users who followed along on the apps. Many of the illegal re-broadcasts of the fight on Periscope had between 8,000 to 10,000 viewers at various times, and a smaller number of similar live-streams had about as many viewers on Meerkat. It was enough to make Twitter CEO Dick Costolo declare a (much-needed) win on the social media platform:
While there is some speculation that HBO, Showtime, and others responsible for the pay-per-view — which actually had a ton of problems on Saturday — will respond with some sort of legal action to the unauthorized re-broadcasts, one media company has taken a different approach to the growing trend of mobile live-streaming.
And the winner is... @periscopeco— dick costolo (@dickc) May 3, 2015
Today, Comcast announced that is is launching its own — very limited — live video service for Xfinity X1 users.
Through the newly announced Xfinity Share application, some Comcast customers can send photos and videos stored on mobile devices, as well as live video, to friends and family members who are also Comcast customers. More specifically, Comcast Xfinity users who have access to the X1 Entertainment Operating System, have an X1 capable set-top box, and are also subscribers of the company's Xfinity Triple Play phone/cable/internet service package will be able to share and watch live-streams on their TVs. So yeah, Share isn't available to just anyone.
The new live-streaming service seems to be geared towards families that are possibly unaware of Periscope and Meerkat — or have relatives (read: old people) who are a bit hesitant to use new technologies. Being marketed as a way to share the real-time experience of a "child’s baseball game, a graduation or just a beautiful sunset," Xfinity Share seems like an easy way to expand the number of use cases and users for live streaming.
However — and I don't think I'm alone here — from my own experiences, using new technologies on cable systems isn't the most intuitive or easy process. If Comcast is offering the service as a more accessible option to Periscope/Meerkat, the users of Xfinity Share might be in for a surprise once they try to start live-streaming.
Saturday night's fight, for example, was delayed 45 minutes because many cable providers couldn't handle the influx of PPV subscriptions for the event that was anticipated to have been one of the largest pay-per-view audiences ever.
One would have to wonder how much the new feature will actually gets used by Comcast customers, and if other cable providers will follow suit with their own live-streaming options.
To me, the move reeks of an established power trying to ride the coattails of a new Internet trend, which we've seen play out before when Comcast tried to make money off of a partnership with Skype.
The Comcast/Skype service lasted about a year before it was quietly discontinued.
Don't be surprised if Xfinity Share has an even shorter existence.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]