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Where Are We Now: Live Streaming

When chaos began to unfold in Paris last November, many people on the scene found themselves turning to Periscope, Twitter’s new(ish) live streaming service, to show that they were safe. A community of Parisian Periscopers already existed and became trusted sources for individuals they had never met before. For the first time, whether it was strategically wise or not, we had unencumbered access to a counterterrorism response playing out in real time as seen by the people who were living through it. This is the power of live streaming and of Periscope. For Jon Erlichman of Parachute TV, the Paris response was just the start, as live streaming stands to become even bigger.

Erlichman runs news for Parachute TV, a Periscope channel devoted to scheduled programing along with his cofounders, Caroline Lesley and Seth Cohen. Content ranges from rap battles to yoga lessons with everything in between, but what can really resonate is breaking news. It just received the startup award from IDG World Expo and Digital Media Wire’s Digital Entertainment World Expo.

Erlichman has a news background, having spent six years as an on-air personality at Bloomberg, and enjoys Periscope’s ability to remove the filter between the anchor and their audience. The ability to have this one-on-one relationship with the viewer and present them with something interesting is a large part of where he feels live streaming content is going. “The relationships are more genuine than anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s a companion video product with actual companions.”

Erlichman pointed to the power of Periscope in another breaking news situation–San Bernardino. He cited an incident where a source that had given interviews to traditional media learned new information as it unfolded and this was captured on Periscope before it was broadcast anywhere else due to the timeliness of the embed. “When you can cover it on your phone, it’s a powerful thing that you’re nimble enough to grab it.”

These examples show that news is going to remain a major part of all of live streaming’s growth in the coming years. “News and information is always in demand,” says Erlichman. “Our appetite for it is insatiable and we can get a lot of it across a variety of sources.”

He feels its becoming second nature for people to pull out their phone and cover something when they see it, be it a fire, an election, or anything else other people would like to see more of. “In an on-demand world, we want to see news as it unfolds live. We want to see big marquee events that we wouldn’t see every day. We want to watch the drama unfold.”

Pivoting on drama, Erlichman feels there’s also a place for major growth in scripted live-streamed content down the line. Parachute is already experimenting with “Blair Witch” style horror shoots (where they seem to go to deliberate pains to remind people that it is in fact fictional) where viewers can choose their own adventure. Much of this interest in drama stems from the growing fact that a many streams are viewed in the 24 hour replay window.

“It’s a short burst of content, usually less than 5 min, that works really well on replay. It taught us an important lesson that we used to inform our programing last weekend when we strapped a phone to a drone in a drone racing league, leading to a few min of live content but over 70,000 replays over the 24 hour period.” For Periscope, this is a large number. It can be just as important to think about how something is viewed in replay as it is live, and Erlichman feels the replay window may expand to accommodate its growth.

To Erlichman, part of what makes live streaming great is that it allows for the unfiltered access of an event, the person streaming it, and their audience. Content will continue to be developed that works best for streaming, whether it is ad hoc or scheduled through a network. Whether it be those “big marquee events” or things like a pianist on a street taking requests, people will continue to stream. As scripted content expands on Periscope and others and the demand for replay content increases, platforms will adopt to meet the changes.


Where Are We Now is an ongoing feature where the TVRev team interviews people who were there at the start of the space on their journey so far and where they see things moving in the next five years. If you’d like to participate, drop me a line at Alex@BRaVeVentures.com and we’ll set up some time to talk.