Video Streaming Apps: Periscope vs Meerkat

Ben Matthews

By Ben Matthews

In Video

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The live video streaming app Meerkat was the talk of the town after its appearance at SXSW, but its popularity was short-lived. Just a few weeks later, Twitter released Periscope, a similar live video streaming app.

Apps like Meerkat and Periscope are ushering in a new age of instant, in a world where we thought we had instant already. It’s exciting: a game-changer for news, brands and organisations like the police and political parties.

In the short time the apps have been available there have been some great uses of both apps, including product demos, press launches and media interviews. There’s even been some citizen journalism, such as this video showing a collapse of three buildings in New York.

Why should PR practitioners care about these live video streaming apps?

According to OOYALA’s Global Video Index, time spent watching video on mobile devices increased 160% year over year in Q4 2013.  Additionally, mobile video viewers will watch an average of 21 hours per month on their devices by 2019, up from 12.7 hours in 2013.

Those viewing times will only increase, so It’s clear that live video streaming is a new marketing channel and brands will need to get on board if they want to stay relevant.

Stephen Waddington, chief engagement officer of PR agency Ketchum, says that the need to embrace these apps quickly is clear. “If your audiences suddenly jump onto these new platforms, you’re going to miss out on the conversations that happen and the opportunity to drive traffic.”

What are the differences between Periscope and Meerkat?

Both Periscope and Meerkat’s features are very similar, but one of the main differences are the apps’ interfaces.

Meerkat is in favour of showing you more information about the broadcast. This information includes the title, broadcaster, location, viewers, comments, likes, and options for you to comment, share, like, or leave the broadcast.

Periscope is more in favour of simplicity. The only information you see are comments, likes, the number of viewers, an option to comment, and an X button to leave the broadcast in the top right corner. In order to like a Periscope video, you simply tap the screen and a little heart pops up in the bottom right corner.

What do brands need to watch out for?

Writing in the Guardian, Paul Armstrong from HERE/FORTH argues that “live-streaming is not going away and is valuable to audiences (and businesses), especially when the barrier to entry and costs are so low. However for the immediate future, as it does not have content filters or watermarking technology like YouTube and Facebook, both Meerkat and Periscope are fun apps with a potentially deadly sting in their tail: that free-to-use app might just cost you a pretty penny if Kanye comes calling for royalties.”

Robin Hilton, a media law partner at Sheridans, has made it clear that now the bar for entry has been lowered the technology poses some serious issues for brands and could also undermine revenue streams for companies reliant on content:

“While these apps could record revolutions unfolding in the street, it could also unlawfully show concerts and football matches. Brands need to watch out: they don’t want to be pushing illegal material. So they had better control what is being shown, and clear any rights. Advertisers should ensure that whatever they are streaming does not get out of control and thus convey messages they had never intended.”

Should you go with Periscope or Meerkat?

Robyn Showers, Social Media Manager at HubSpot, is more optimistic and is encouraging brands to get onto the platform sooner rather than later.

“Being an early adopter of a social network that catches on gives your brand a huge leg up later on, which is especially important considering how competitive the world of online content is becoming.”

And which platform is the one she suggests brands and organisations go for?

“We really think Periscope is a medium that has staying power. It’s personal and human in a way that can’t quite be duplicated by other social media networks. Live streaming video gives the user a chance to be somewhere, anywhere, and it gives brands a chance to be human and relatable.”

The figures back that up. Periscope reached number 67 in the US iPhone apps chart and No. 22 in the Social Networking category, whereas Meerkat fell out of the top 1,000 apps and was sitting at 129 in the Social Networking chart.

What’s more, Twitter’s CEO revealed that Periscope saw over 1 million users register for its service in the first 10 days of its launch. That’s impressive growth and may well see Periscope outlast Meerkat.

Lastly, with Periscope being integrated with Twitter, the app is a lot more accessible that Meerkat and its videos are more easily discoverable. If your brand has a good presence on Twitter, it seems natural to choose Periscope as your livestreaming app of choice.

What are you waiting for? Give Periscope a go and start seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.

This post originally appeared on The PR Network.