LinkedIn Adds Live-Streaming, Amazon’s Twitch Hit a Wall in Live-Streaming and other top news

Few key things that happened around the Ad Tech & Media Tech world this week.

LinkedIn Adds Live-Streaming

Almost a year after first launching its native live-streaming option to selected users, LinkedIn is now expanding LinkedIn Live to company pages, while its also officially adding a new option to invite personal first-degree connections to follow a business page that you manage. The most significant update here is the expansion of LinkedIn Live – as per LinkedIn: “LinkedIn Live has helped members and organizations foster dialogues with their communities. That’s why brands have seen 7X more reactions and 24X more comments vs. standard video posts on LinkedIn. […] As part of our continued investment, we’re delighted to bring LinkedIn Live to Pages so that organizations can leverage sight, sound and motion to humanize their brand’s voice on LinkedIn.” Up till now, LinkedIn Live has only been available in the US, but now, LinkedIn is expanding the functionality to, theoretically, any company page – though page managers will still need to apply for access. The expansion makes sense – in addition to the above engagement stats for live videos on LinkedIn, LinkedIn users are also 20x more likely to share a video on the platform than any other type of post. Given the performance of video content on the platform, it makes sense for brands to consider how they might be able to incorporate LinkedIn live-streaming into their approach – maybe for events, product launches, etc. If there’s a fit, you can apply for access to LinkedIn Live here. LinkedIn also says that it will soon support video streaming via third-party tools, including Restream, Wirecast and Socialive. In addition to this, LinkedIn has also officially announced that it’s bringing back the option for company page admins to invite their first-degree connections to follow their page.

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Amazon's Twitch Hit a Wall in Live-Streaming

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) bought Twitch, a live-streaming app focused on gaming, in 2014 for nearly $1 billion. Just a year and a half ago, that investment looked like it would pay investors back handsomely with Twitch setting a goal to reach $1 billion in ad revenue in just a few years. However, those expectations were out of line with reality. Twitch generated around $230 million in ad revenue in 2018, and it was on pace to reach just $300 million by the middle of last year, according to a report by The Information. The company was expecting between $500 million and $600 million in annual ad revenue going into the year. Twitch faces increased competition from several tech giants: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) YouTube, and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Streaming hours continue to grow, but only slightly, as competitors eat into Twitch’s market share. Still, the relatively slow growth in ad revenue is concerning considering Amazon’s overall push into video ads last year. Twitch is still the dominant force in live-streaming video games, but the competition is starting to affect its growth. Data from StreamElements and Arsenal show streaming hours on Twitch grew less than 2% year over year in December. Meanwhile, the overall market grew streaming hours about 12%, so Twitch’s market share fell from 67.1% to 61.0%. Meanwhile, unique visitors on Twitch’s website are declining. Just 18 million people visited Twitch.tv in November, down from 22 million in the same month a year prior, according to data from Comscore. While Microsoft’s Mixer has made headlines by signing contracts with big names in game streaming like Ninja and Shroud, they haven’t made a huge impact on its streaming hours. Microsoft’s market share expanded just 60 basis points to 2.6%.

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The Timing Is Right For Brands, Streaming And The New Heartland

I’m sure broadcast TV and cable networks feel like print publications did when digital page views surpassed print subscriptions with the place streaming now holds in the lives of most Americans. If you were too busy binge watching Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime last week, let me catch you up. Broadcast television got hammered when streaming services dominated the Golden Globes. Ten of the 11 TV Awards landed on the lap(tops) of companies with business models built around full streaming capabilities or direct-to-consumer streaming options. Streaming convenience has become a defining element of entertainment culture. More than half of U.S. adults use over-the-top (OTT) media services. Yet, brands are allocating less than 5% of the $70 billion spent on television advertising to OTT ads. The opportunity for brands doesn’t stop at sheer audience size. Marketers could be reaching some of the most difficult and long-term brand advocates by shifting the buckets their advertising dollars fill. When you visualize the average streaming consumer, you probably don’t see a 52-year-old farmer from Nebraska. A 2019 Lab42 survey depicts the average streamer as young, mobile-first, single, and living in suburbs or cities. So I don’t blame you for assuming. The rural portion of the New Heartland hasn’t been particularly well-known for its access to broadband Internet, a prerequisite for high quality “Next Episode” button-clicking. Soon an assembly of 26 states I’ve defined as the New Heartland (and beyond) will have greater representation on cable and streaming. RFD-TV, a network of the Rural Media Group that carries programming relevant to rural America, supported the Rural Communications Act of 2018.

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Disney Streaming Services Are Already Worth Over $100 Billion

This doesn’t really sound all that surprising since it’s Disney, people expect the Mouse House to make money as it’s been doing for a long while now. Disney has been a household name for generations now and to think that it might tank is laughable. But as Ryan Scott of MovieWeb reminds us the streaming game is a marathon, not a sprint, which is wise advice even for the Mouse House since despite being worth over $100 billion, which again isn’t all that surprising, they’re still facing a lot of upcoming competitors that would love to take that spot away from them and are doing everything they can to develop one property after another to take it. Netflix is still a giant as they’re worth around $156 billion and they’re not going anywhere for a handful of reasons, one of them being that they’ve been around long enough and know how to play the game. The other of course is that they’ve got enough original content coming out on a regular basis that they’ve still managed to keep people entertained and intrigued as to what they’ll be releasing in a short while. This is where Disney+ really needs to get on the ball since The Mandalorian has been their one big number that has kept people around since November, and once the season ended people started a mass exodus that hasn’t hurt the streaming service but is still fairly troubling since it indicates that people are still looking elsewhere.The downside of streaming of course, from a business perspective, is that everyone is going to want to get in on the action and sooner or later the market is going to become saturated as it’s already becoming. Every possible company that can throw their hat in the ring with enough clout to make some noise has been doing so and for Disney+, which has unveiled a lot of old content that people have seen and new content that people don’t really know about unless they venture onto the site, it’s time to start pushing some of the ideas that we’ve been hearing so much about in order to get people to stick around. WandaVision, The Falcon and Winter Soldier, and many other shows that are being planned are still a little ways off but are making their way to the streaming service eventually, but one has to wonder if they’re going to be in time since a lot of other networks are unveiling their best shows as well this year and it’s going to come down to what people really want to watch and what they’re willing to pay for.

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The appetite for live-streaming is bigger than ever

It would be easy to assume that because competition is so stiff among live-streaming platforms — for talent, for eyeballs — that the market is zero-sum. But as it turns out, that isn’t actually true. According to a fourth-quarter report from the streaming tools provider StreamElements and the metrics tracker Arsenal.gg, the entire industry grew an astonishing 12 percent in the last year (based on hours watched). A lot of growth came from Facebook Gaming, which increased its hours watched by a full 210 percent — most likely from its signing of new streamers. According to the StreamElements report, Facebook had a 6 percent increase in streamers and a whopping 78 percent increase in the average number of viewers per hours streamed. While Twitch’s market share dropped slightly, it found a new growth in its non-gaming categories — they now represent a full 11 percent of content watched on Twitch, up 3 percent since December 2018. And its Just Chatting category was the biggest in December 2019, in a major first for the site. That’s interesting because it means the audience for Twitch’s content is engaged by more than just games, which is obvious, but it’s good to see that feeling reflected in the data. What the StreamElements report really means is that live-streaming is more popular than ever, and that a rising viewership tide really does lift all platforms — even if we’re in the middle of a war for top live-streaming talent. (Every major platform grew over the last year. Streaming site Caffeine wasn’t a part of the report, but it only officially launched in mid-November.) I think that’s important to point out that the war for talent doesn’t necessarily mean platforms are competing for the same audiences; the report means that there are more people interested in watching streams who began to watch them last year. Live-streaming’s potential, at least right now, is that it’s almost mainstream: a lot of people are aware of streamers, at least as a category of online influencer, but not as many people have had a personal experience watching one. I didn’t get it until I watched a few streams — and then I got it. And I’d bet most people are the same.

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