Live streaming

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A still from a live feed of a fish tank with multiple stream encoding qualities
A still from a live stream of a fish tank, Schou FishCam

Live streaming refers to online streaming media simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real time to the viewer. It is often simply referred to as streaming.[note 1]

Live stream services encompass a wide variety of topics, from social media to video games. Apps such as Facebook Live, Periscope, and 17 include the streaming of scheduled promotions and celebrity events as well as streaming between users. Sites such as have become popular outlets for watching people play video games, such as in eSports, Let's Play-style gaming, or speedrunning. Lifecasting or lifestreaming is a real-life activity facilitated by live streaming.

User interaction via chat rooms forms a major component of live streaming. Facebook Live and Periscope also include the ability to talk to the broadcaster or participate in conversations in chat.[1] An extreme example of viewer interfacing is the social experiment Twitch Plays Pokémon, where viewers collaborate to complete Pokémon games by typing in commands that correspond to controller inputs.

Social media[edit]

In the field of social media, the term "live media" refers to new media that use streaming media technologies for creating networks of live multimedia shared among people, companies and organizations. Social media marketer Bryan Kramer describes live streaming as an inexpensive "key marketing and communications tool that helps brands reach their online audience." Users can follow their friends' live video "shares" as well as "shares" related to specific content or items. Live media can be shared through any Internet website or application; thus, when people browse on a specific website, they may find live media streams relevant to the content they look for.[2]

Live media can include coverage of various events such as concerts or live news coverage viewed using a web browser or apps such as Snapchat. James Harden and Trolli promoted an upcoming NBA All-Star Game through Snapchat. Many of LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner's performance art were live streamed, such as a stream of Shia LaBeouf in a theater viewing all his movies.[3]


In March 2015, Twitter launched a live streaming app called Periscope. Normally, users would see a hyperlink attached to their broadcast, directing people to a new tab. Using Periscope, videos appear live on the timeline. If the user has allowed the site to share information, others can see where the user is streaming from. During the broadcast, users can comment, talk to the broadcaster, or ask questions.[4] Kayvon Beykpour, CEO of Periscope, and Dick Costolo and Jack Dorsey, CEOs of Twitter, all shared a common goal—to invent something that would merge both teams into one instead of as partners.[5] The team wanted to give people more accessibility for both Twitter and Periscope. Their solution was a combination of live streaming and Twitter.

Facebook Live[edit]

Facebook introduced a video streaming service, Facebook Live to select individuals in August 2016, and it to the public in January.[6] Facebook Live allows Facebook users to include their own "reactions" when someone is broadcasting.[1]

YouTube live streaming[edit]

YouTube was purchased by Google in 2006, and the pair subsequently announced their live streaming app. Like Periscope, users can comment on the broadcast. Unlike Periscope, live streams on YouTube can be saved and any user can access them through the app.[7] Bronstein stated that this would be the perfect opportunity for "creators" to interact with their fans.


Twitch co-founder Justin Kan wearing a lifecasting setup, a website primarily used to live stream video games, also includes an "IRL" (in real life) section which includes lifestreaming or lifecasting. Will Partin of Rolling Stone named Paul "Ice Poseidon" Denino as a "pioneer 'life streamer'". Denino "streams several hours of his conspicuously eventful life almost every single day." Denino streamed on before moving to YouTube's live streaming after a swatting incident on an airplane.[8][9] Comedian Andy Milonakis is also an active Twitch lifestreamer.[10]

Video games[edit]

Live streaming playing of video games gained popularity during the 2010s. David M. Ewalt referred to as "the ESPN of video games".[11] The website spawned from and grew to overshadow, and was purchased by at the end of 2014 for $970 million USD.[12] Other video-game oriented streaming websites include, which was formed after the merging of Azubu and, and the South Korea-based afreecaTV. In 2015, YouTube launched YouTube Gaming—a video gaming-oriented sub-site and app that is intended to compete with Twitch.[13]

An example of a notable live streamed event is Games Done Quick, a charity speedrunning marathon hosted on Twitch. Viewers are encouraged to donate for incentives during the stream such as naming characters in a run, having the runners attempt more difficult challenges, or winning prizes.[14] Over $10 million has been raised across sixteen marathons.[15]

Professional streamers can generate livable revenue from viewer subscriptions and donations, as well as platform advertisements and sponsorships from eSports organizations.[16] The audiences of professional gaming tournaments are comprised primarily of live stream viewers in addition to live audiences, and have been broadcast through YouTube's streaming service as well. The International 2017, a Dota 2 tournament with the largest prize pool in eSport history, was primarily streamed through Twitch, having a peak of over five million concurrent viewers.[17]


Many instances of crimes such as rape and assault, along with suicides, have been streamed live, leaving little to no time for administrators to remove the offending content. Live streamed crimes became a trend in the mid-2010s with widely reported incidents such as assaults and suicide streamed through Periscope in 2016[18] and the kidnapping of a man in Chicago streamed through Facebook Live in 2017.[19]

Additionally, live streaming to large audiences carries the risk that viewers may commit crimes remotely, such as swatting, or even in person. Paul "Ice Poseidon" Denino has been a frequent target of swatting, as was Twitch co-founder Justin Kan. An incident occurred in April 2017 at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport when a viewer called in a bomb threat and named Denino as the culprit, temporarily shutting down the airport.[8] They may also be victim to stalking as with other celebrities; for example, a teenager showed up uninvited to a streamer's house and requested to live with him after having saved up for a one-way transcontinental flight.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This term is ambiguous due to the fact that "streaming" may refer to any media delivered and played back simultaneously without requiring a completely downloaded file. Non-live media such as videos on demand and regular YouTube videos are streamed, but not live streamed.


  1. ^ a b Greenberg, Julia. "Zuckerberg Really Wants You to Stream Live Video on Facebook". WIRED. Retrieved 2016-11-30. 
  2. ^ Kramer, Bryan. "How Live-Streaming is Going to Crush it in 2016". SocialMediaToday. Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  3. ^ Robinson, T. (November 16, 2015). "Why Shia LaBeouf's #AllMyMovies was so successful". The Verge. Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  4. ^ Price, Rob (March 26, 2015). "Twitter just launched Periscope, its hot new streaming app". Business Insider. Retrieved November 4, 2016. 
  5. ^ Pierce, David (January 12, 2016). "Periscope Now Drops Live Video Into Your Twitter Timeline". Wired. Retrieved November 4, 2016. 
  6. ^ Bell, Karissa (January 28, 2016). "Facebook is finally bringing live streaming to everyone". Mashable. Retrieved April 24, 2016. 
  7. ^ Pierce, David. "YouTube Is the Sleeping Giant of Livestreaming". WIRED. Retrieved 2016-11-30. 
  8. ^ a b Partin, Will (June 9, 2017). "On Air With LA's Most Wanted Man, 'Life Streamer' Ice Poseidon". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  9. ^ Erickson, Jon (2017-04-28). "Internet personality says he was target of prank threat at Sky Harbor". KNXV. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  10. ^ Prince, S.J. (2017-03-31). "WATCH: ‘Pedophile’ Hits on Andy Milonakis, 40-Year-Old With Growth Hormone Deficiency". Heavy, Inc. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  11. ^ Ewalt, David M. (December 2, 2013). "The ESPN of Videogames". Forbes. 
  12. ^ "Amazon to Buy Video Site Twitch for More Than $1 Billion". The Wall Street Journal. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Dredge, Stuart (August 26, 2015). "Google launches YouTube Gaming to challenge Amazon-owned Twitch". The Guardian. Retrieved September 5, 2015. 
  14. ^ Smith, Ernie (2015-01-13). "How Gaming Gurus Reinvented Telethons for the Web". Association Now. 
  15. ^ "all events tracker". 2017-01-14. 
  16. ^ Leslie, Callum (2014-12-31). "Hearthstone players won more than $1 million in the game's first year". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. 
  17. ^ Handrahan, Matthew (August 14, 2017). "The International 2017 reached 5m peak concurrent viewers". Retrieved August 15, 2017. 
  18. ^ Blaise, Lilia (7 July 2017). "Suicide on Periscope Prompts French Officials to Open Inquiry". New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  19. ^ Meisner, Jason; Lee, William; Schmadeke, Steve (2017-01-05). "Brutal Facebook Live attack brings hate-crime charges, condemnation from White House". Retrieved 2017-07-07. 
  20. ^ D'Anastasio, Cecilia (May 2, 2017). "When Fans Take Their Love For Twitch Streamers Too Far". Kotaku. Retrieved August 27, 2017.