Live streaming app Meerkat rolled out several major updates this morning, including the ability to sign up on the platform through Facebook instead of Twitter, a feature that lets you invite those watching your stream to take over that stream, and it now facilitates saving streams in something called the Meerkat Library instead of on your phone.
We’ll get through all of these updates in a minute, but first a quick recap on Meerkat vs.Twitter for context: Meerkat was on a roll shortly after launching earlier this year, thanks in large part to Product Hunt and becoming the “it” app at South by Southwest. However, the true gas on the growth was largely due to Twitter’s social graph.
Meerkat would tweet out that users were live on the platform every time they started a stream. More people started streaming, more tweets went out. But then came Periscope, Twitter’s rival platform. Twitter then blocked Meerkat from its social graph and that was the end of that romance.
It looks like Meerkat has moved on from its breakup and is now in the friendly arms of Facebook. Even with the bad blood betwixt them, folks still had to have a Twitter account to sign up on the app. Now they just need Facebook.
Meerkat was already getting cozy with Facebook in May. The live streaming platform opened up the ability for brands to post a link to their Meerkat live streams on their Facebook page using Facebook Connect instead of Twitter. This new update means individuals can sign up via the Facebook registration API without a Twitter account. It will also help those already on the platform find their Facebook friend’s streams.
The feature is optional and will auto-follow all your friends on the app connected through Facebook. However, Meerkat founder Ben Rubin was quick to tell TechCrunch that it won’t automatically tell all your friends you’re scheduled to go live, that you are live streaming or commenting on Meerkat.
Twitter is in real-time where Facebook is not. That’s why we chose not to do that and instead focus on your friends and interests. Ben Rubin
“Twitter is in real-time where Facebook is not. That’s why we chose not to do that and instead focus on your friends and interests,” Rubin said over the phone.
The Facebook integration is an obvious response to the Twitter slam. Meerkat needs another social growth vehicle to continue and Facebook has the audience to do just that.
But the real-time thing is a problem. This new update pulls in a bit of Twitter’s essence by allowing users to find and follow political candidates, celebrities and other profiles they might find interesting in an attempt to satisfy the missing real-time element.
Note that Meerkat has pushed out a number of celebrity-infused streams to grab users in this way, including a current one with U2. Currently, those on the platform can go to the U2 live stream at set times on the platform to catch live performances.
Rascal Flatts, One Republic and QuestLove have also “Meerkatted” their onstage performances and the live streaming platform recently launched a campaign to add live streaming on Discovery channels DLive web portal during Shark Week.
Meerkat added the ability to invite your friends, strangers, anyone watching really, to take control of your stream. Called Cameo, the new feature works by firing up a stream and then tapping on the profile of a viewer to invite them to take over. If the viewer accepts, then everyone on the stream will see that person make a cameo appearance on your stream for 60 seconds. Either person can end the cameo at any time within that minute of time.
Here’s a silent video Meerkat sent us to illustrate how Cameo works:
Rubin imagines people passing the stream to each other to build on the story and to add to the conversation like one might see with talking heads on a news program.
“When is the last time you saw conversations not in the fake time but in real-time? It’s like ‘hey, I’m right here with you in this conference’ and it is adding different layers,” Rubin said of the new feature.
And in a Snapchat Discovery-ish play, Meerkat is rolling out Cameo with a bunch of participating partners lined up for the launch, including The Weather Channel, TMZ, Fox, the CW, Champions League Cup, Above Average, and MasterCard.
You don’t have to be a media company or sports team to use the feature, though. We’re told it’s available to everyone, starting today.
To the Library
Last, but certainly a helpful feature for saving space on your smartphone, Meerkat introduced the Meerkat Library, a storage option that will let you save streams to the cloud instead of your phone. This is a beta roll-out of the product that Rubin cautions may have some bugs, but every user will have the ability to test it out starting today.
Those who’d like to save some space can do so at the end of their broadcast by going to meerkatapp.co/username and then logging in to manage which streams you’d like to share publicly and which ones you’d like to keep private.
For more information on all these rollouts check out the Medium post here.