Here’s the real reason the YouTube app is going live

Not to be a curmudgeon, but live video is so 2004.

youtube live streaming

Just like other live-streaming platforms, YouTube will offer live commentary and the ability to ping your subscribers.

Credit: YouTube Creator Blog

“I’m an important person. I am so important that the things I have to say should not have to wait until a video is formatted correctly, saved to my drive, uploaded and shared on YouTube. And, you should drop everything and watch right now.”

That’s the real reason YouTube is moving to live-streaming, following dutifully behind Twitter’s Periscope app and Facebook Live.

There shouldn’t be any delay between what someone is doing at a pizza place in Chicago and the viewer in New York City. We should never have to wait for that commentary about a Destiny multiplayer match on Xbox. We want it now.

Technically, this act of sharing live video has been around for years. In fact, YouTube already lets you share live video from a laptop. What’s brand new is that smartphones can now share live video without any hiccups using an app. The stream from Periscope is butter smooth, mostly thanks to fast bandwidth, phone processors that can keep up, and plenty of RAM. YouTube plans to launch "soon" and right now for celebs. It seems way too much like a "me too" move for an established player.

But strike all of that from your thought process. Live video hasn’t caught up to technology, and technology hasn’t caught up to live video. Society itself has changed. We don’t want fast food, we want instant food. As Amazon has slowly shifted from ground deliveries to overnight to within a few hours to right now, society has also shifted gears. Tweets arrive moments after a disaster strikes. Facebook posts go up as soon as a baby is born. We’re the Now Generation. It doesn’t matter which age group you’re in, call yourself a Millennial or Gen-X or whatever you want, because everyone who wants a smartphone has one. That makes you part of Now.

Maybe you can sense some sarcasm here, because I’ve resisted the idea from day one. At the SxSW conference last year, I ran a Meerkat feed a few times (before they transitioned out of the market and now want to be part of a social conversation) until I realized I was showing a video of some random unknown speaker who was saying something marginally interesting. Why? For six people to watch my shaky cam video for three minutes and hit the exit button? It was dumb.

More importantly, this trend to make everything live is already getting old. After I used Meerkat at SxSW, I never used it again. Ever. It’s one of those fads you can spot a mile away because you’ve already seen it a few times. And, it’s one of those fads that doesn’t add any real value. I need to drop everything and watch a live feed of you talking about a video game. Why would I do that again? The real advancement in technology happened when we started to archive a video, tag it, make it searchable, and load it on a portable video player...in 1998.

Besides, livestreaming on YouTube won’t save YouTube anyway. What will save it is better content. I can dismiss the new feature already, because I know it will be a live version of the millions of cat videos they already have online. Exciting! If they improve the quality, make it more diverse and entertaining, figure out how to make the stream work on any device (say, on the touchscreen in my Toyota) I’ll be interested. Turning something live is not an innovation, it’s a downgrade.

Plus, it’s one of the worst ways to rack up more data and clog up the wireless carrier networks. Sprint and Verizon execs just gave each other a high-five. Here's the thing: We already have enough fail videos; we don’t need to see them live.

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