For now, live-streaming video on Facebook is strictly for VIPs: Only celebrities and public figures who have been verified by Facebook can access the new broadcasting tool from the Facebook Mentions app.
According to the company, stars planning to hold live broadcasts on the service include the Rock, Serena Williams, Luke Bryan, Ricardo Kaka, Ashley Tisdale, Lester Holt, Martha Stewart, Michael Bublé and WWE’s Paul “Triple H” Levesque. Users can tune in to watch live, and ask questions during the broadcast — which the celebrity host can respond to immediately.
“Our goal with Facebook Mentions is to give public figures tools to connect with their fans authentically,” said product manager Vadim Lavrusik. “Video is some of the most authentic content we’ve seen, and being able to interact with a public figure in real time is such an intimate experience.”
The business reason behind Facebook’s celebri-casting move is to drive up the time users spend on the service, thereby increasing the potential to serve up more ads. Facebook has a concerted strategy to expand video consumption, and recently announced a trial of a related-videos feature that will share ad revenue with publishers for the first time.
As Facebook’s video views have exploded — topping 4 billion per day on average in the first quarter, according to the company — the company also has come under attack from YouTube content owners who complain it’s not doing enough to block unauthorized videos from being posted.
“It’s a little inexcusable that Facebook, a company with a market cap of $260 BILLION, launched their video platform with no system to protect independent rights holders,” Hank Green, who runs the popular VlogBrothers channel on YouTube, wrote in a blog post this week. Green cited a report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs finding that of the 1,000 most popular Facebook videos in Q1 2015, 725 were “stolen re-uploads” that accounted for 17 billion views in the period.
In response to the criticism, Facebook says it takes intellectual property rights seriously and that it’s building new ways to let content owners identify and manage infringing content.
On the live-streaming front, Facebook is starting with celebrities because they’re huge traffic drivers. According to the social giant, more than 900 million people are connected to actors, athletes, musicians, politicians and other influencers on Facebook.
Public figures’ live video will appear in the News Feed of fans who follow them on Facebook, and users who have recently interacted with their posts will also receive a notification when a broadcast starts. After the broadcast has ended, the video will be archived on a celeb’s page (although it can be deleted).