Periscope Adds Ability to Stream Live Video From Broadcast Feeds, External Cameras With New Producer Feature

Courtesy of Twitter

Periscope broadcasters don’t just have to rely on their cell phone cameras anymore: The Twitter-owned live streaming service announced a new feature called Periscope Producer Thursday that allows TV networks and other content producers to stream directly from their existing broadcast equipment, and also enables bedroom streamers to make their feeds look a lot more professional.

Periscope has been testing Producer with select partners, including Fox, Disney, TechCrunch, ABC News and Sky News, for about six weeks. Now, it is getting ready to gradually open up the new feature to a wider audience. “We are taking a big step towards allowing any live broadcast to be piped into Periscope,” said Periscope co-founder Kayvon Beykpour during a press briefing in San Francisco Wednesday.

Periscope is initially still asking users to sign up to be white-listed for the new feature, but Beykpour said that the feature is eventually going to be available to Periscope’s entire user base. At launch, users also need an iPhone to run Periscope’s iOS app to run Producer. In that app, they can simply point the service towards a streaming Url generated by broadcast tools like OBS.

The stream itself can contain anything the broadcast tool in question is able to generate, be it on-screen graphics, picture-in-picture, or even live feeds from other locations. And anything that is being streamed on Periscope this way can also be viewed as a live stream by anyone using Twitter’s app. “If it can be generated as a live feed, it can be piped into Twitter,” said Beykpour.

He argued that this could help both Periscope and Twitter to host new forms of media, be it Twitch-like video game streams, or even live feeds from virtual reality headsets.

In fact, Periscope is even working on enabling users to stream their game play from select iOS apps that make use of ReplayKit, a video relay feature that Apple introduced with iOS 10. Eventually, Periscope could send audience data directly to participating apps to influence game play or relay feedback from Periscope’s audience, he said. “We are working with a number of developers behind the scenes.”

Allowing anyone to stream non-mobile feeds on Periscope could potentially also lead to more users attempting to broadcast pirated content, but Beykpour argued that this wasn’t much different from the challenges that Periscope is already facing in this space. “That problem exists anyway,” he said, adding that Periscope has policies and procedures in place to deal with piracy.

Periscope isn’t the first social live streaming service to open the floodgates for broadcast content. Facebook enabled broadcast content on Facebook Live in April, and has since actively courted publishers with monetary incentives to use the platform. Twitter itself has also struck a number of deals with high-profile partners, including the NFL and Bloomberg, to stream their content on its service.

Beykpour said that these efforts were separate from Periscope’s Producer feature. Twitter is signing complex commercial deals with partners like the NFL that include the need to limit live streaming to certain territories. Periscope Producer on the other hand allows users to go live, and feature their own advertising, without any such agreements. However, Beykpour also said that Twitter may help live streamers to monetize these feeds.  “We are definitely laying the groundwork,” he said.