Live streaming on Twitter

Twitter has be trying to make an impression in the video arena for some time. Twitter cards for video services allowed viewing of videos without leaving the timeline, as well as launching Vine (which seems to have dipped in popularity and turned into You’ve Been Framed online) and in January this year launched direct video uploading  from your device (hardly the YouTube like platform we were expecting).


Then streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat came to the market and threw a curveball that Twitter have jumped upon in a big way for big reasons. They quickly snapped up Periscope before they fully launched, then blocked Meerkat in a way that severely kneecapped them, this was unfortunate for poor Meerkat as the app looked and worked really great, it couldn’t have been a simpler experience.

I believe this is a big thing as live video streaming might very well be the secret weapon to begin undermining YouTube as the dominant video service. YouTube owns on demand video but it’s moves into live streaming have been timid and it’s failed to utilise it’s power on the same scale as the rest of it platform. YouTube does do live streaming in a limited capacity for “all verified channels with accounts in good standing”, and has been the go to place to handle large scale global streams as until now no one else has a network that could stand up to the pressure of events such as the Red Bull Stratos Space Jump demanded. But YouTube live streaming is not open to everyone and has largely been used by the large-scale elite with deep pockets. When they live stream large events they can utilise a live tweet-stream alongside the video, and have made social integration efforts such as the Honda Stage campaign example.

The rest of the market is filled with middle-tier players such as and Ustream who do allow streaming from phones, or special hardware they supply to be connected to pro gear. We’ve used this ourselves in a recent project and it works very well. But these standalone apps are far from frictionless, and crucially what all these other players are missing is the viral and social aspect that Twitter may bring. Building video on top of social instead of the other way around could be the winning formula.

What Meerkat proved by opening its doors so early was that the viral nature of firing up a live stream with such deep social hooks is very sticky. Upon starting a stream (a one-touch action) your Twitter followers with the app get notified and everyone can comment in realtime and share the experience, the entire conversation of which is posted back to Twitter increasing it’s reach and virility. It’s incredibly powerful, or at least it was until they were purposefully handicapped for having a great idea. It’s mostly used on a smaller individual scale, but individual small scale streams on the scale of a network like Twitter equates to large scale market reach.

Twitter has supposedly disrupted television already by providing live commentary, imagine what this can do to live TV. Extrapolating this beyond the individual scale, suppose every live TV event that is currently available through your TV you can now get on in Twitter whilst simultaneously commenting, contributing and possibly influencing what you are watching. Twitter video streaming has the potential to finally make TV interactive. News channels can ‘tweet stream’ breaking news events and users watching can comment in real time. Bands can broadcast live gigs to their fans all over the world, action brands like Red Bull and Go Pro can build brand engagement with the audience directly and sports events can be viewed by everyone with realtime global commentary.

There are a couple of barriers to overcome. Namely content rights, advertising and revenue sharing for sponsored events (none of which are simple problems to solve). But disruption will start lower down and filter up; brands first, then larger networks and content producers will see benefit in engaging with this technology. It will start with just phones, but it won’t be long until we see data and compression equipped boxes plugged directly into pro cameras or mixing desks (similar to livestream hardware) allowing quality recording and streaming with companion app features for receiving the live feed of tweets in realtime.

There’s also the additional challenge of moving live streamed videos to a YouTube-like platform for viewing another time – losing all live streams after they have happened represents further lost opportunities. The Red Bull Stratos Space Jump received far more views after the event than during (9.5m live (few of which watched 100% of it) vs 38m total since of the 1 video on YouTube). Re-watching is vital. As realtime as twitter is, you’re missing out on a huge market if users can’t discover your content after the fact. But this is where the recently introduced video service might come into it’s own and find a wider use.

This market is huge, and Twitter wants a large piece of it. If they play their cards right, they may get it. It is because of this potential I understand why they treated Meerkat so, and may forgive them for such bullying behaviour.


Update 26th March 2015
Twitter since fully launched their Periscope product which has some nice features, including pretty seamless liking of content and easy discovery of what’s going on in the network. Imagine it wont be long until we see these streams embedded and playing by default in the timeline.


Technology March 17th 2015

You might also be interested in...

  • 1 million design resource downloads1 million design resource downloads We’re super excited to announce we recently passed the 1,000,000 download mark on our design resources. We made our first twitter resource back in 2013 as an internal tool to mock-up social profiles for clients. Photoshop had only […]
  • How Find my Friends should workHow Find my Friends should work Find my Friends is a really great idea and it's baked right into iOS, the problem is the experience could be so much better, and it's so hidden that nobody really knows it exists. Most confusing of all is that there is both a stand-alone […]
  • Property Detective homeProperty Detective on the telly box with Family Friendliness Our good friends at Property Detective recently launched some new features that landed them attention on TV. See the founder Barry Bridges talk about the new Family Friendliness feature launched this week on London Live. Read our full […]

Product Design

The ‘Product’ is the website, service, application, interactive thing being worked on by the business. The practice of Product Design is similar in a lot of ways to UX Design. It involves the coming together of many specific design disciplines...

Call to action (CTA)

A call to action is a marketing term that refers to a prompt that invokes a response leading to a sale. When referring to a call to action (CTA) in the digital design world we usually mean the interactive element that leads to the next step in the experience - something that needs to be clicked or tapped.

User testing

User testing refers to a technique used in the design process to evaluate a product, feature or prototype with real users. There are several reasons why you might want to undergo usability testing, the most common is that it allows the design team to identify friction in a user experience they are designing, so that it can be addressed before being built or deployed.


WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get". It helps identify an an interface that allows user input resulting in an output that is rendered in a similar way. For example; a word processor application interface might resemble a piece of paper,so when printed the user can see how the output will appear.

Content Management System

A content management system (CMS) is an tool that allows a website editor/administrator to manage the content that is displayed. Websites are made of HTML and CSS to create pages. Pages can be hard-coded but would require technical development skills to make changes. A CMS usually allows a person without coding knowledge to amend existing and add new content to a website using a WYSIWYG interface.

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design refers to a web page that dynamically adapts its layout to fit the size and orientation of the device on which it is viewed. A responsive design allows for a more optimised user experience across desktop and laptop computers as well as smartphones and tablets of varying sizes.

User Stories

User stories allow the functionality of a product or service to be expressed as written descriptions of an experience as seen from the users perspective. The writing of user stories creates a list of design and development tasks to complete in order to create any required functionality.

User Interface

A user interface (UI) is a conduit between human and computer interaction - the space where a user will interact with a computer or machine to complete tasks. The purpose of a UI is to enable a user to effectively control a computer or machine they are interacting with, and for feedback to be received in order to communicate effective completion of tasks.


A persona in UX Design is the characterisation of a user who represents a segment of your target audience. On a project you might create any number of personas to be representative of a range of user needs and desires. The solutions you design must answer these needs in order to deliver value to your target audience.

Card sorting

A great, reliable, inexpensive method for discovering patterns in how users would expect to find content or functionality. Card sorting is used to test the taxonomy of data with a group of subjects, usually to help inform the creation of the information architecture, user flow, or menu structure on a project.


A technique used to generate ideas around a specific topic. Often done in groups, but can be done individuals. The process usually involves writing down all ideas around a topic onto paper, a whiteboard or stickies often implying some kind of association.

Minimum Viable Product

An MVP is a product that has the minimum set of features to prove the most essential hypothesis for a product. Businesses building a new product can create a Minimum Viable Product to prove that an idea is viable and warrants further investment. A further benefit being that the next stage of development can be informed by feedback obtained from testing that MVP.


A sitemap is a diagrammatic representation of a hierarchical system. It usually depicts the parent-sibling relationship between pages in a website, showing how sub pages might be arranged underneath their parent groupings. This arrangement forms a map of the site.

User journey

A user journey represents a sequence of events or experiences a user might encounter while using a product or service. A user journey can be mapped or designed to show the steps and choices presented as interactions, and the resulting actions.


A prototype is draft representation built to test ideas for layout, behaviour and flow in a system. Prototypes are an indispensable tool for resolving a large number of potential issues in a concept or business before too many resources are deployed to put a design into production.


A Wireframe is a visual schematic that conveys a basic level of communication, structure and behaviour during the design of a system. Wireframes are low-fidelity designs that bypass including a detailed user interface or visual design, conveying just enough to get across the core idea.


To say something is usable is a qualitative statement about how easy that thing is to use. Usability is an assessment of how learnable a system is and how easy a user finds it to use. The usability of a system or product is a key factor in determining whether the user experience is a good one.

Information Architecture

Information architecture is the design and organisation of content, pages and data into a structure that aids users understanding of a system. A more organised system enables users to more easily find the information they require and complete the intended tasks.

UI Design

User Interface Design is the discipline of designing software interfaces for devices, ideally with a focus on maximising efficiency, responsiveness and aesthetics to foster a good user experience.

UX Design

The practice of User Experience (UX) Design is the coming together of many specific design related disciplines to improve the usability, responsiveness, uptake and aesthetics of a product or service.

User Experience

A general term that covers all aspects of a user's participation while engaging with something that has been designed. Usually when talking about User Experience in the digital design field it refers to the interactions, reactions, emotions and perceptions while using an app, service, website or product.