Facebook is expanding its live-video feature to Android users, the company announced in a blog post today. This rollout is initially for those based in the U.S. and will begin next week, but “more countries [are] coming soon,” Facebook confirmed.
Live-video is Facebook’s answer to similar services from Twitter-owned Periscope and independent startup Meerkat, which works with Facebook’s API but was booted from Twitter’s platform. Opening a live-stream — which is located at the top of the Facebook mobile app — allows a user to broadcast to their friends, followers and other people on the social network what they are doing, in real time.
Facebook first introduced the service last summer, when it was initially just for celebrities. It become available for all users of Facebook’s iOS app in the U.S. in January, and the social network said today that its iOS users in more than 30 countries now have access to it.
With 1.5 billion monthly active users, Facebook has the kind of scale that any company, particularly mobile video startups, would die for, but that doesn’t necessary mean every new feature or service will succeed. Facebook is known for so many things that honing its appeal around a specific feature is tricky. Plus, it isn’t exactly the best social network for breaking or instantaneous events, such as news or live video.
“Going live” on Facebook needs friends to quickly join your stream for it to be effective or fun for users. That’s not necessarily a call to action that all Facebook users are accustomed to making.
That said, Facebook has the attention of every celebrity worth their salt, who connect with millions of fans across the service, so there’s clearly huge potential here, even if it is just for better-known people. For example, Comedian Ricky Gervais, who has nearly four million Facebook fans, has praised live video for giving him a platform that enables direct interaction with fans and other audiences without the filter or agenda of the media.
It remains to be seen if Facebook can deliver on that front for regular people, too, but we’re likely to find out soon as the live-video feature steadily rolls out across the social network’s vast and global user base.