Facebook released an important feature yesterday, enabling certain content creators to schedule and promote Facebook Live broadcasts in advance. While a lot of the hype around live-streaming has been about capturing breaking news - with streams spontaneously discovered - as I explained a few months ago on our weekly podcast, the bigger application for live-streaming is for broadcasts scheduled in advance and promoted to content creators’ fans.
Facebook acknowledged that “many publishers have told us they want to be able to schedule their live broadcasts so that people on Facebook can plan to tune in.” Of course that’s no different than what TV networks have been doing since the beginning of time, publishing their weekly schedules and then driving viewership via tune-in ads.
With the new feature, owners of Verified Pages can schedule live broadcasts using the Facebook Live API. Scheduling a broadcast triggers an announcement post that is included in fans’ news feeds. Importantly, scheduling a broadcast also creates a link that can be used in other social media and web sites.
Fans seeing the post can choose to receive a reminder just ahead of the broadcast, which then allows them to wait in a virtual lobby until the broadcast begins. Live broadcasts can only be scheduled a week in advance and the virtual lobby opens up 3 minutes prior to going live.
For now, scheduling is only available for Verified Pages, but Facebook said it will be rolled out to all pages in the coming weeks, as well as to third-party tools.
One of the best applications I can think of for scheduled live broadcasts are sports. Consider for example how Bleacher Report is using Facebook Live to broadcast a handful of high school football games. To be able to schedule those, promote them ahead of time, widely share a link and then have fans eagerly waiting for the game to begin, all breaks brand new ground in terms of how previously non-televised sports can be brought to the masses. I think the possibilities for sports and verticals are unlimited.
With the scheduling feature, Facebook is continuing to up the ante in live-streaming, and demonstrate how committed it is to innovating in video.