5 Most Innovative Live-Streaming Apps

Blog: 5 Most Innovative Live-Streaming Apps


Facebook Live, Periscope, and other industry giants paved the way for today’s live-streaming apps. But new concepts are being developed each day, often for unexpected industries and user bases.

Your organization’s app is one of the most defining aspects of its brand. Whether your mobile presence is integral to the service itself (as with Instagram and Uber) or a supplementary component aimed at increasing engagement (as with mobile banking and hospitality apps) — innovation is key.

One thing is clear across the board: Live streaming has become an intuitive way for consumers to research, engage, and contribute. By enticing users with real-time video, you’ll stay one step ahead of competitors.

Here are some of the most innovative ways that mobile apps are putting live streaming to use in 2019.


1. TikTok

Company: ByteDance


What’s TikTok?

As one of the most downloaded apps of 2018, TikTok boasts more than 500 million users across 150 countries. This social media ‘lip-syncing app’ out of Beijing allows users to share 15-60 second video clips. Personalized content based on preferences and browsing history keeps viewers coming back.

Lip-syncing itself is a misnomer, as many popular TikTok videos have little to do with music aside from sound effects. TikTok is conceptually similar to Vine, with the exception being that editing videos within the platform is far easier.

AR filters, video effects, and the ability to sync with nearly any musical track are among TikTok’s features. Relevant, personalized content based on preferences and browsing history keeps users coming back.

So why isn’t TikTok a household name?

  1. The app goes by two names — Douyin in China and TikTok everywhere else. While branded as one of the same, the two are in fact separate entities. Try a search in either system, and different content will come up.
  2. TikTok is just taking hold in western markets. Parent company ByteDance acquired U.S.-based Musical.ly in Nov 2017 and has since launched an aggressive campaign. While already a global hit, we’ve yet to see how adoption plays out.

Graph: Tik Tok Quarterly Downloads


Why Should You Care?

TikTok is among the first wave of Chinese social media apps to resonate in English-speaking countries. One of the biggest contributors to its success is the use of machine learning for content personalization.

“We build intelligent machines that are capable of understanding and analyzing text, images, and videos using natural language processing and computer vision technology. This enables us to serve users with the content that they find most interesting, and empower creators to share moments that matter in everyday life to a global audience,” explains a ByteDance representative.

The shorter videos shared on TikTok reflect a change in how people are consuming content. Think of TikTok like binging on an entire season of 30-minute episodes rather than committing to one 2.5 hour-long movie. While users are demanding more content than ever before, they want it packaged in bite-sized formats.

What’s the takeaway? In a world flooded with video content, users want to be both creators and viewers. Advanced editing features that can be implemented in a snap, paired with personalized content aggregation, answers this need.

It will be interesting to see if the live-streaming feature is eventually rolled out to the general public— as was the case for Facebook Live. Additionally, we’re curious whether or not machine learning will be employed to support real-time content indexing of these live streams.


2. Peloton Digital

Company: Peloton


What Is Peloton?

As a connected exercise equipment distributor, Peloton disrupted the health industry in 2012 by selling both a product and a service tied into one. The product, a stationary bike with a 22-inch touchscreen, allows users to stream live and on-demand exercise classes via a monthly subscription service. The genius of this strategy is that Peloton managed to secure big, one-time purchases and small, subscription-based revenue in one fell swoop.

This essentially created a new industry, dubbed physical interactive media. Users live-stream cycling classes to their living room, providing both the community of a group exercise class and the flexibility of an at-home workout. But what if Peloton could make exercising even more convenient for users? That’s exactly what they did in the summer of 2018 by releasing the Peloton Digital app.

This mobile app expands workout options beyond cycling and running to include walking, yoga, strength training, and more. Users anywhere — and everywhere — can stream live and recorded content. This allows both fitness enthusiasts and casual users to give Peloton a spin without such a costly up-front investment.

With the company’s IPO on the horizon, Peloton Digital might just be the solution Peloton needed to prove its staying power.

Peloton Digital Mobile Live-Streaming App


Why Should You Care?

Health and fitness trends have long inspired cult-like followings. Just look at CrossFit, CorePower, or the ‘lemon, cayenne pepper, and honey diet.’

But Peloton is much more than a clever idea. It’s a fusion of tech and fitness that’s causing us to rethink where the industry will go next.

At once a consumer goods, media, tech, and health services company, Peloton represents exactly what can be done by using live streaming to add value to your offering.

And because live streams are now accessible for both on-the-go users and internet-connected houses, the company continues to pedal towards growth with the Peloton Digital mobile app.


3. Mercari

Company: Mercari


What Is Mercari?

Similar to eBay, this Japanese e-commerce app built a digital marketplace where users buy and sell products. The interface is simple and mobile, with transactions only requiring a few simple steps.

Another thing that sets Mercari apart is Mercari Channel, a feature enabled on a small portion of their sales that allows users to live-stream their goods while the bidding takes place.

Why? Because real-time interactivity, community participation, and the closest possible experience to ‘being there’ all help create an auction-like atmosphere that engages customers and ideally leads to higher sales prices.

Not convinced? The proof is in the pudding: In less than four years, the app surpassed 100 million downloads globally.


Why Should You Care?

As our first example of a mobile app that implemented live streaming later in response to market trends, Mercari embodies how live streaming finds its way into unexpected use cases.

The company had global ambitions from day one, which impacted their strategy in noteworthy ways.

“When features are too focused on Japanese culture and our local needs, we end up making a product that doesn’t work internationally. We are trying to keep things as universal as possible in order to facilitate international expansion,” explains CEO Shintaro Yamada.

Already gaining traction in the U.S., Mercari’s innovative use of live streaming is sure to influence the e-commerce landscape.


4. Citizen

Company: Citizen


What Is Citizen?

What happens when you mix the looky-loo mentality of NextDoor with the ‘Marked Safe’ Facebook feature? Citizen.

Putting crime-tracking into the hands of the public, Citizen offers geo-targeted alerts to notify users of nearby danger. The real-time app pulls public safety data from police scanners and notifies everyone within proximity of local crimes and fires.

The app is fast, with users receiving updates before law enforcement arrives on the scene at times. So what’s streaming got to do with it? Citizen also crowdsources live videos of the incidences from its users.

Currently only deployed in New York, San Francisco, Baltimore, and L.A., Citizen provides transparency and situational awareness to its users.


Why Should You Care?

This isn’t Citizen’s first time around the block. The app originally went by the name Vigilante, but was forced to rebrand after getting banned by the App Store. Specifically, many feared that the app encouraged users to rush towards danger.

Let’s take a closer look at that rebranding.

Vigilante: a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.

Citizen: an inhabitant of a particular town or city.

Now poised as a communal information hub rather than a platform for citizens’ arrests, initial concerns have dissipated. This shows just how much impact branding can have on how an app is viewed and used.

It’s also fascinating that this combination of public information and social sharing has in some cases outperformed the law enforcement systems already in place – all due to tech.


5. HQ Trivia & Words

Company: Intermedia Labs


What Is HQ Trivia & Words?

Our list of innovative live-streaming apps wouldn’t be complete without mentioning HQ Trivia, the live-streaming gameshow app that awards participants cash prizes and features celebrity guests.

Graphic: HQ Trivia Rankings in App Store

Yes, HQ has seen better days. Management issues caused a decline in popularity since initial success. Even so, more than 500,000 players tune in for weekend shows.

What’s more, HQ recently launched HQ Words to entice more interest.


Why Should You Care?

The parable of HQ Trivia & Words is one that any developer should heed. Created by the same innovators who brought us Vine, it reflects a willingness to pivot and a commitment to keeping at it.

Vine rose and fell, and from its ashes HQ Trivia was born. The app’s user base grew exponentially, and then began to sink.

HQ Trivia became HQ Trivia & Words, and now we’re waiting to see how that story ends.

The moral? Try, try again… and if necessary, pivot.


Build Live-Streaming Apps With Ease

Live streaming is enabling endless possibilities. Want to play the role of a news cameraman? Download Citizen. Looking to get into e-commerce? Mercari is your oyster. Always wanted to compete on a game show? Get in on the fun with HQ Trivia.

We’re excited to see the way new apps in 2019 use live streaming as part of their offering. Whether you’re a live-streaming expert or just getting started, Wowza’s got your back.


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About Traci Ruether

Traci Ruether is a Colorado-based B2B tech writer with a background in streaming and network infrastructure. Aside from writing, Traci enjoys cooking, gardening, and spending quality time with her kith and kin. Follow her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/traci-ruether/ or learn more at https://traci-writes.com/.