Adam Winer is the Senior Director of Video Strategy at Condé Nast Entertainment
Thanks to the current push from Facebook, live video has become the latest media company obsession. Publishers are scurrying to broadcast a slew of discussions, demonstrations and the occasional produce implosion. But what do viewers actually want to watch live? How are they watching it? And why?
Testing and analytics only provide part of the answer. To gain deeper viewer insights, we spoke with fans at this weekend’s digital video convention, VidCon, in Anaheim, California.
Here are highlights from the interviews, accompanied, of course, by a selfie.
Aba Monkah, 21
Do you watch a lot of live video?
Yes, especially on Periscope, since it’s connected to Twitter. I get a notification on my phone that someone I follow is live, so I can watch and listen while doing other things.
What are your favorite videos?
I like when they’re answering questions from the comments. When they see my question, it’s very cool. I get excited because they’re actually paying attention.
Have you noticed more live videos on Facebook?
Yes. Sometimes my friends will go onto Facebook Live, so I’ll watch that. But mostly I’ll watch celebrities. I especially like Kevin Hart.
What videos do you like better: live or pre-recorded?
I like live more because it’s really authentic. It’s raw. It’s like vlogging, but without the edits.
Jim Ghaznavi, 30
What do you watch live?
A lot of what I watch is news from places like AJ+, Vice or ABC. I also watch live video gaming on Twitch.
Why do you like news live?
Especially when it’s the very cutting edge of breaking news, it’s handy to just pop into it. There’s a level of sincerity, lack of editing and spontaneity in live. Something could happen. It gives you a more genuine picture of what’s going on.
Do you ask questions in the comments?
How does it feel if the host responds?
It feels wonderful! It makes the person seem more human and personable. I think it really connects you to the news.
Chris Doumas, 25
What do you watch live?
Twitch. It’s mostly professional video game players playing League of Legends.
Why do you like it?
I’m a huge League of Legends fan, and I really enjoy a high level of competitive play.
Have you watched anything on Facebook Live?
I watched The Rock at the premiere for “Central Intelligence.” I turned it on for five minutes, and that’s probably the most I’ve watched a Facebook Live stream.
How long do you watch Twitch?
Three to four hours a night. When I get home from work, I put it on as background noise and hang out or eat dinner.
What else are you doing while it’s on?
Writing or playing another video game myself. I need to watch something, otherwise my second monitor goes to waste.
Catherine Simard, 21
Where do you watch live video?
I like YouNow. That’s where the YouTubers I watch do their videos.
Why do you like live?
I mostly watch Q&As. Live is more informal and feels more like they’re talking to you than anyone else.
When do you watch?
It’s a post-school, but pre-dinner kind of thing. I’m scrolling through my feeds, and I see a link that they’re live, so I check it out.
How long do you watch for?
Usually 20 or 40 minutes. I’ll click away from their face, but still have it on in the background while doing mindless browsing—checking out BuzzFeed or things that are just images. I might click back to their face if I want to see expressions, emotions and things like that.
Mackenzie Duffy, 21
Where are you watching live video?
I watch a lot of Periscope. I see live video on Facebook, but I don’t want to stop in my feed to watch. I use Facebook for the feed, so I’m constantly scrolling through. If I stop for video, then I’m missing the other stuff.
What do you watch on Periscope?
Celebrities or smaller YouTubers, who will let you ask questions. I also watch Good Morning America. They do behind-the-scenes stuff, so you see what they do in commercial breaks.
How do you watch Periscope?
I see videos when I’m going through my Twitter feed on my laptop. I’ll actually open the video in the Periscope app on my phone and put it by my laptop. Then I can keep using my computer to bounce around on Twitter or Facebook or news sites. Sometimes I’ll even watch a YouTube video while I’m watching someone live.
Are you always multitasking while watching something live?
Yes. It’s like I’m hanging out with a friend, but we’re doing something else. I’ll never just watch someone live. That feels like I’m wasting my time.