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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Are Meerkat and Periscope Ready to Live Stream Events?

Meerkat and Periscope are not ready for live streaming events, reliably.


Jimmy Fallon has used both to live stream his monologue rehearsals with mixed results. Both are great when they work, but leave the audience frustrated when they hang, stall, or just crash.

SNL tried to use Meerkat to live stream from backstage. It didn't work out so well.

Neither are reliable either for capturing an archive of an event. Meerkat has a third party that captures streams if you use the hashtag #Katch But that only works if Meerkat works.

You could use either of these apps, as long as the audience knows not to rely on them, and to actually go to the event if they want to be assured of seeing it.

The beauty of Meerkat and Periscope is that anyone can live stream, and connect with viewers, in real time. It's great fun to be able to see people and events from around the world. I loved watching concerts from SXSW, from Boston, and connecting with the live streamers, but, if you want to be ensured of a reliable broadcast, you've got to use a reliable platform.

Note to Jimmy Fallon: Keep experimenting with Periscope and Meerkat. ;-)

I've done a lot of live streaming and there are many variables to consider.

- Experience with live streaming. When you go live, the person doing the live streaming has to have experience so that they can handle anything that comes up.

- Bandwidth at the Venue. Relying on WiFi is not a good idea. When the venue fills up with people, they get on the same WiFi and can cause problems for the live stream. A hardwired connection is best.

- Sound quality. Sound is more important than video. Make sure you have a solution for wiring the speakers so that the live stream audience can hear them. Shotgun mic, lav mis for each speaker with a switcher. These are things to think about.

- Video quality. Can the camera zoom in on speakers? Is it on a tripod?

If you do use live streaming with Google Hangouts to YouTube, here are YouTube's guidelines.

It means work.

If you want to capture each event for later, I suggest using a video camera at each venue to capture to SD card and upload to YouTube to Facebook later. That ensures a record of the event.

If you choose to do this, then it makes sense to have that camera hooked up to a laptop that is hardwired to the internet, has connections for capturing good audio at the event, and live streaming via that laptop with Wirecast for YouTube.

Robin Maxfield has figured out how to do this for her Story Slam events at Doyle's Cafe. Maybe she can give you some advice based on her experience.

Wirecast for YouTube:

Finally, if you don't want to get involved in figuring all this out and making sure it works, hire a company that is experienced with live streaming to do it for you.