Facebook is redesigning its mobile app to put live front and center. The new live video tab replaces the spot for Messenger on smartphones; if you want to get there from the Facebook app, you’ll have to go to the menu in the top left corner of the app.
The tab may say “Video,” but it’s truly just a hub for live broadcasts — at least for now. Tapping on the new tab will direct you to a page of currently live or previously live videos, which is eerily similar to Twitter’s live video app Periscope but still nestled within the core Facebook app. The top bar is dedicated to search, so users can easily find recordings of kittens, or refrigerators, or Bernie Sanders, or whatever they are most interested in seeing. Or, they can scroll down to two sections: videos from “Around the World” and from “Your Friends and Pages.”
“We’ve been surprised and delighted with how people are using live video to connect and interact with each other all over the world. People are letting their friends discover their hobbies,” Fidji Simo, product management director at Facebook, wrote in a blog post on the update.
Live video has become a huge priority for Facebook , even as some users express annoyance about constantly being notified of new live videos. Indeed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg happily touted in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January that 100 million hours of live video was being watched every day on Facebook. "Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket. Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook Wednesday. "This is a big shift in how we communicate, and it's going to create new opportunities for people to come together."
The redesign makes watching live video automatic, not unlike Snapchat’s redesign last week to have Stories stream one after another with no action by the user. That's bound to please publishers, who are being coaxed by Facebook to start producing monthly content for the site versus uploading videos to their own websites, the Verge reported. Some publishers will be paid upfront to broadcast on Facebook Live while Facebook works on a plan to split revenue from earnings. Live videos currently do not have pre-roll ads as on YouTube.
The Huffington Post is one publisher that has prioritized broadcasting on Facebook Live. The digital media publisher is no longer focused on its web publishing channel HuffPost Live and has instead been broadcasting with Facebook Live, notably for covering the 2016 presidential election on the ground. A broadcast with Facebook Live featuring Ben & Jerry's founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield from last month has received more than 660,000 views.
Beyond publishers, Facebook reportedly is offering celebrities six-figure checks to use the feature, according to a report from Re/code last month. Facebook is hosting an event in Los Angeles at 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EDT) Wednesday to celebrate the "people who have have been using Live to share moments with their friends, family and fans," a company representative said. Those videos, along with a curated selection of videos from the last 24 hours, can be found on a new hub: http://live.fb.com/24Live/.
But not every broadcaster is getting a payout or a featured spot. The new tab also encourages more everyday Facebook users to go live, by placing the "GO LIVE" button at the top of the section, and contribute to Facebook’s world of video and take on Google's YouTube and television.
To generate more live video, beyond writing checks, Facebook introduced new features to live broadcasters. Videos can be limited to an audience in a Facebook Groups or at a Facebook Event. Users can also add five new filters to their videos, including black and white, and will soon be able to doodle, as on Snapchat.
Facebook is also improving the comment feature. Users can see the comments in the replay of a live video. Facebook touted that users comment 10 times more on live videos versus pre-recorded ones. Users can also use Facebook’s five new reactions (love, haha, wow, sad or angry) to comment live. The emoticons will animate over the video, not unlike the streaming hearts on Periscope.
“We want people watching the broadcast after the fact to feel ‘in’ on the action,” Simo wrote in the blog post.
The redesign is rolling out to users of the iOS and Android apps over the coming weeks.