“What’s on the telly?” used to be the question, then it became, “What’s on YouTube?” and then it became “What’s on Netflix?” Could the next question be, “What’s on Meerkat?”
The key question we should be asking here is “How did Meerkat flourish so quickly, where products like Justin.TV (now defunct) and UStream have struggled?” The answer is convenience.
A user simply needs a mobile phone with a camera, an internet connection and a Twitter account, and that’s it.
Taking a leaf out of the Snapchat playbook, videos are only available while streaming live and disappear into the ether once the stream ends. The ephemeral nature of the videos reduces the amount of thought, pre-planning and friction that goes into creating video for public consumption.
The video is available right now while events are happening making the consumer and their viewers feel like they are getting exclusive content; once the stream is finished, it’s gone forever.
To date, we have seen live streams covering the Apple Watch announcement, someone riding the bus in New York and a Microsoft Convergence 2015 key note by Satya Nadella via Meerkat Roulette (let’s hope this doesn’t become Chatroulette).
The Miami Dolphins and American Idol have already jumped on the platform, according to Meerkat founder, Ben Rubin. The appetite for live, exclusive content from traditional content producers is obviously there, but is Meerkat the new enabler for a second age of user-generated content (UGC)?
Well, borrowing the catchphrase of another famous Meerkat, it’s actually pretty ‘simples’; Over 300 hours of UGC (of questionable quality and copyright legality) is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day, and that’s via desktop and a more traditional mobile app.
Meerkat could be the gateway for a veritable tidal wave of UGC, live and unedited, streaming to the masses of Twitter unchecked and uncensored, and then poof. It’s gone into the ether.
This also presents an issue with building audiences – if the content doesn’t live anywhere after the event, how can creators drive viewers to watch after the fact?
YouTube star Zoella is part of a crop of new UGC superstars that brands are frantically trying to tap for their credibility and engaged audiences. Meerkat could produce a superabundance of similar online celebrities, through ease of access and broadcast alone.
The question is: “What about the quality of the content?” If viewers feel like they are getting access to exclusive content, as it happens, quality may not be so much of an issue, it’s being in the moment and on the pulse that counts here.
We live in a world that is so ‘on-demand’, that much ‘immediacy’ has lost its impact. We don’t all have to tune in to a show at 8pm on a Sunday because we all record and watch on-demand. Meerkat may mark a return to ‘appointment viewing’ via your favourite new UGC superstars.
Allan Cobb, UK managing director, Momentum Worldwide