Facebook is pushing out a few updates to its live video platform today, including a new feature that lets broadcasters maintain continuous streams. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for fixed camera setups and multi-hour videos, as the previous length limit was just 90 minutes. The company says it's already seeing interesting use cases, like 24-hour nature cameras used by Explore.com. Other possibilities include a continuous video of a group of puppies or even entire sports matches and other events, Facebook video head Fidji Simo told TechCrunch. The one downside: you can't save these streams to watch later, as the server strain would be too costly for Facebook to maintain.
The only other accessible and mainstream platform for these types of live streams has been YouTube. Facebook is now competing directly with the Google-owned video site by beefing up the streaming and hosting infrastructure behind its live video push. Other new features include the ability to make a video visible only to users in a certain location, as well as the ability to display so-called "engagement graphs" so viewers can skip to more exciting parts of live videos. Since launching its developer toolkit, which lets professional broadcasters use pro-grade cameras and effects, in April, Facebook has seen its number of partners jump from 12 to more than 100.
Facebook is trying to make its social network a go-to destination for video
For Facebook, live video represents the most significant new format of social content it can both host and monetize, and the company has been pouring immense resources into the initiative since its broader launch in January. Videos — whether broadcast live, uploaded after the fact, or shot for virtual reality headsets — are fast becoming the easiest way to draw massive viewer numbers. Just last week, a live video from Facebook user Candace Payne trying out a hilarious Chewbacca mask shattered records with nearly 140 million views and counting.