Does the world really need another livestreaming app? Telefonica thinks so, and its Product Innovation division has developed one by the name of Xtreamr to fill what it sees as a gap in the market, both for broadcasters and for brands who want to engage with their customers.
The project started out as a consumer-facing app that would enable people to livestream to a close group of friends, an alternative to Facebook Live, but on closer investigation, the company came to the conclusion that a B2B version might have more legs.
“If you look at who’s using live video, you have the broadcast sector where they do a lot of live video, but it requires a lot of hardware and planning, and the brands who in all honesty don’t really know this space,” says Alex Papadopoulos, commercial manager in Telefonica’s Product Innovation team. “The brands are using Facebook Live or Periscope, but these are not properly interactive and are tied to the constraints of the platform. We think the broadcasters and the brands both have problems that Xtreamr solves.”
The way it works is simple. If a broadcaster wants to involve members of the public in a broadcast, it broadcasts a link. Anyone with a smartphone – no app required, though one is available for those who prefer to go through the app – can open the link in their browser and livestream their own content or comments for use on the programme. For peace of mind, broadcasters can pre-filter would-be contributors before taking them live to satisfy themselves that the caller won’t use their 15 seconds of fame to broadcast anything offensive.
The broadcaster can queue up to 16 users at any one time, and bring them in as and when the presenter wishes, though Borja Salguero, the Xtreamr co-founder who developed the app, told me that current users have set the limit to a more manageable figure of eight. The presenter sees each participant as an icon on their user interface and clicks on the one they want to bring in. And while 16 is the theoretical cap, it’s a rolling number, so once one contributor has said their piece, they can be ‘kicked out’ to make way for another.
The platform is gaining some traction in Telefonica’s heartland, Spain. Spanish broadcaster Movistar+ uses it on its MotoGP channel for a programme called Social Paddock, where MotoGP fans are invited to share their opinion.
Telefonica also showed me a clip from the Movistar+ Formula 1 channel, where the presenter cued in Noemí de Miguel, a reporter livestreaming from Piccadilly Circus via Xtreamr over a 4G connection, armed with nothing but her smartphone and a selfie light ring.
FremantleMedia is also using the platform to bring in fan contributions on its online football channel, Football Republic. “The Xtreamr app allows us to integrate interactive video calls from fans worldwide into our shows with great ease,” says FremantleMedia’s head of sport, Nigel Smythe. “It’s simple for the contributor and very light on production resource, which is vital for us.”
For brands, Telefonica sees Xtreamr delivering a more engaging and rich live experience. A fashion retailer, for example, could stage a livestreamed event to show off the new season’s range and enable customers to put questions to fashion gurus, or give their feedback on what they see. The same principle could apply to product unboxings.
News publishing is another sector where Xtreamr could have the potential to enable rapid response citizen journalism, where the platform would be used to get on-the-spot reaction from people at the scene of a major news event, as it unfolds.
The revenue model for Telefonica depends on the type of partner, but includes a flat fee to cover a given number of events in a certain time frame, or a one-off fee for bigger events. Initially, Telefonica runs things as a managed service, moving to a self-service model as the partners start to use the tool and become more familiar with it.
I’ll be watching with interest to see if Xtreamr becomes the go-to livestreaming tool Telefonica believes it could be.