Let’s think about this concept; Facebook executives have gone on the record in saying that in five years, there’s a chance that the platform as we know it will be all video and no text. While I personally think that’s aggressive thinking, what does this mean for audio, text, and content distribution?
Last June, Quartz reported:
In five years time Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, who heads up Facebook’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a conference in London. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform. But Mendelsohn went further, suggesting that stats showed the written word becoming all but obsolete, replaced by moving images and speech.
What about audio?
Back in December, Facebook announced a new feature called Live Audio. This delivers an easy interface for those delivering book readings, interviews, and news radio, through ‘live audio’ on Facebook. Contrast this to the Live Video feature that has exploded on Facebook. Similarly, listeners/viewers to live audio sessions can leave reactions in ‘real-time’ to the audio.
Facebook stated in their blog:
We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video. We’ve even seen some Pages find creative ways to go live and reach audiences with audio only by using the Facebook Live API or by adding a still image to accompany their audio broadcast.
Our new Live Audio option makes it easy to go live with audio only when that’s the broadcaster’s preferred format. We also know that publishers sometimes go live from areas that lack strong network connectivity. Though we alert the broadcaster if their signal is low, Live Audio presents another option for connecting with audiences in real time from low-connectivity areas.
With the explosion of Facebook Live, I’m curious to see the evolution within the podcasting realm and will the podcasters use the platform to their advantage? Is it possible that Facebook could actually transform into a relevant podcasting platform? In our opinion, maybe. But it’s way too early to make any determination as it’s still in the top of the first inning.
There’s no doubt that it has the opportunity to disrupt the industry…favorably. But it comes down to whether or not content creators are going to actually aggressively use the Live Audio platform, thus encouraging new consumption habits. Bottom line, it can expand podcasting to a new audience, for sure, via social methods. Most importantly, it will deliver audio-first content into the newsfeeds of a prospective new audience.
For the time being, only Android products allow a listener to leave the app or lock your phone and continue listening. iOS listeners are only capable of listening while on Facebook.
As Mashable noted,
The concept of broadcasting live audio isn’t new to Facebook. Some publishers have already found ways to do live audio simply by leaving a still image up on a live video stream on the platform.
In addition, according to publicly released information, publishers are anxiously awaiting to align with Facebook. Radio shows such as “BBC World Service” and “LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation),” publisher Harper Collins and authors Adam Grant and Britt Bennett will be partnering up with Facebook to test this new feature.
Live Audio Brings Limitless Opportunity for Wide-Range of Content
Techcrunch.com highlighted the impact Live Audio could have:
- Radio stations could broadcast their programs
- Podcasters could find new online distribution for their episodes
- Authors could do live readings of their books
- Celebrities could do Q&As without worrying about how they look on camera
- News anchors could broadcast audio from disaster zones or areas of crisis where bandwidth may be too overloaded for video streaming
- Musicians could broadcast concerts or studio sessions
In our eyes, this looks like a tremendous opportunity for the long-term ability to push podcasting to an entirely new audience. Again, it takes effort and focus, and the industry must expand beyond its comfort zone of distribution platforms. Independents may be more aggressive more so than large publishers, looking for you to utilize their platforms.
Finally, this appears to be a huge opportunity to drive revenues as Facebook develops a revenue sharing platform with publishers & podcasters. The industry is waiting for a ‘big player’ to make a move. Could this it? Let’s hope it incentives Apple to get moving too!