People are live streaming everything.

From cute little puppies running to a building exploding in Manhattan, New York. Before, you could only hear about sports events and television news being “live streamed,” allowing people to watch events on the internet as they happen. However, what once was exclusively a reporter’s privilege has now spread to daily lives.

Meerkat and Periscope are the two sole players in the live streaming battle. Even though Periscope is not the first live streaming app, it dominated the market and destroyed its predecessor, Meerkat, overnight.

What did Periscope do to give Meerkat its reality check?

 

How the Story Begins

Meerkat was launched on February 27th, 2015. The app was brought to SXSW 2015, and it made a huge impression to the attendees and media. Meerkat was ranked 140 on the app store rankings, which is a very respectable position given the novel concept.

Twitter presented a challenge: Periscope, which is also an app designed for live streaming.

Only a few hours after Twitter announced the launch of Periscope on March 26th, a building in New York exploded. People live streamed the tragedy from every direction, giving unprecedented real-time views.

When users post their streams on Twitter, their tweet will include a hashtag of the app they used. For example, LIVE ON #Periscope or |LIVE NOW| #meerkat. Below are the number of tweets each app was receiving:

topsy results

 

According to Newsweek, about 600 hundred people live streamed the event using Periscope. Periscope dominated social media, out-tweeting Meerkat by nearly 25,000 tweets. The app was a smash-hit, effortlessly flying to top 30 by that Friday night.

periscope broadcast

 

Why Periscope?

1. Periscope doesn’t have as many bugs:

Live streaming can be buggy. Between a poor internet connection or internal hardware issues, a lot of things can go wrong. However most users reported Periscope has less glitches. If I was watching a live stream of Taylor Swift singing “Blank Space”, that 10 second delay matters.

2. Periscope has a cleaner design

Periscope interface

On the left is Periscope’s interface and right is Meerkat’s interface

Periscope has a simpler interface, allowing users see the whole stream without severe interruptions. On Meerkat’s interface, all viewers are shown on top along with their comments, which unnecessarily seizes ⅓ of the screen .

3. Periscope saves your streams and lets you replay them later.

Meerkat doesn’t support the ability to replay streams. I only check my social media in the morning and at the end of the day. This means I miss all of my friend’s streams.

I’ve been in this situation way too many times:

“Hey did you see that stream about a guy pouring an ice bucket on himself an hour ago? OMG that’s what everyone’s been talking about!”

“…”

However, having an efficient app isn’t enough. Nowadays, it’s easy for any company to build a clone of your app. There will always be someone out there who can build it better. A company cannot solely rely on their product alone to succeed.

 

What comes before technology?

Good strategy has to come first. Great products with poor strategies can’t win.

1. Use your privilege (even if that means being “the bad guy”):

Both apps heavily rely on Twitter. When Twitter acquired Periscope, the product was given greater access to resources, especially users’ data and location. Periscope notifies Twitter users when a stream begins and shows where a person is streaming from.

Twitter decided to restrict Meerkat’s access to its social graph. This crippled Meerkat’s ability to use the social graph to build their network. Meerkat would now have to make their users invite people to join rather than build off of the already established Twitter network.

2. Leverage, don’t imitate

Periscope delivers a unique experience, which is a better strategy than Meerkat trying to mimic the real broadcaster’s experience. Meerkat users are not allowed to re-watch broadcasts. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. However, Periscope leverages the broadcaster’s experience by letting users re-watch and receive immediate feedback through ratings and comments.

Periscope allows users to send hearts at any time during streaming. It gives out that immediate satisfaction return when you can see your stream flooded with hearts. Furthermore, if there’s a part in the stream the audience likes, you can immediately know by seeing hearts flying around and observe what kind of content people are interested in, especially for social media specialists/twitters.

I would “heart” this 1000 times:

Kitty in marshmallows
500 for the cat and 500 for marshmallows

What the Media Cares About

The chart below displays the popularity between Periscope (red) and Meerkat (blue):

Periscope VS. Meerkat

Meerkat had a substantial amount of news coverage at the beginning despite not being in the top 100 iPhone apps chart. Tero Kuittinen wrote an article that criticizes how media falsely advertised Meerkat as “the hot trend” when in fact, it had “never been a hit to begin with.”

Meerkat was still able to keep up with news coverage when Twitter released Periscope at first. However, this wasn’t because of their product…

Periscope VS. Meerkat Search Results

When people mentioned Meerkat, they also talk about Periscope and vice versa. The media isn’t actually interested in either product, but rather the rivalry between the two.

Conclusion

Periscope is currently winning the live streaming battle. All it took was a polished app and a good strategy: restrict data access to competitor and leverage experience.

Meerkat recently announced its new update to strike back at Twitter’s restriction, so I’d be interested in seeing how this affects their positioning.

What are your thoughts on Periscope and Meerkat? I would love to hear them in the comments below. You can also send a tweet/ send a message to me at @anhthu_le179