Facebook has finally jumped into the game of live video streaming for smartphones. But unlike competitor streaming apps like Twitter-owned Periscope and startup Meerkat, the live video product is only for public figures and celebrities, so far.
The social network announced the feature called "Live" in a blog post Wednesday afternoon. The product is an extension of Facebook Mentions -- a tool for public figures to better manage and access their interactions with fans on Facebook. Facebook released that product in July 2014. Facebook users who have access include athletes, musicians, politicans and other influencers selected by the company -- they must have verified Facebook accounts.
With Live, these Facebook influencers can now stream live video. These videos will appear in the News Feed to Facebook users who follow the account. Facebook users will also receive a Facebook notification when someone goes live, if the user has recently interacted with the influencer, according to the post.
Influencers can see a stream of comments in real time and also the viewer count. This feature, also available on competitors Periscope and Meerkat, will allow the influencer to respond live. Facebook does note in the blog update that broadcasters can choose to hide the comments. Completed broadcasts will be uploaded to the influencers' Facebook page, or they can choose to opt out.
"Live is a new and immersive way for public figures using Mentions to share and talk with their fans on Facebook," Facebook's product manager Vadim Lavrusik wrote in the blog post.
Facebook has lined up a slew of celebrity partners to debut the feature. To start, live broadcasts are scheduled for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Serena Williams, Luke Bryan, Ricardo Kaka, Ashley Tisdale, Lester Holt, Martha Stewart and Michael Bublé, the blog post reads.
This new product comes at a time when live-streaming apps have been gaining steam. Twitter released its product Periscope in March, a few weeks after startup Meerkat gained the early praise and attention of users. The two apps have been battling for users and further developing their products. Periscope has successfully won over many brands and companies due to its tie to Twitter.