5 Ways Live Streaming Helps You Win the App Battle

May 15, 2017 by

Building an app? Get ready for the cage match of the century. In today’s smartphone-oriented culture, a growing number of apps are fighting for the attention of mobile video consumers—and it’s a battle to the death.

More than 6 million Internet and mobile apps were available across operating systems in 2016—and almost 85 percent of time spent in those apps was distributed across the top five platforms. What’s more, the amount of U.S. smartphone users who use live-streaming video apps is soon expected to triple.

Differentiating your app in this cutthroat environment means focusing less on functionality, and more on the user experience (UX) your platform provides. That means not only incorporating streaming video, but also offering a “video-plus” experience that allows users to interact with the content, the broadcaster and each other.

Still not sold? Here are the top five ways live-streaming video can help your app emerge victorious:

 

1: Users Will Spend More Time in Your App (and Earn You Ad Dollars)

Video is naturally more engaging than other types of content. That’s why 74 percent of all online traffic this year will be video content. Video draws viewers in and holds their attention, requiring multiple senses to process. What’s more, mobile users spend more of their video-watching time in apps than in browsers (20 minutes daily in mobile apps, versus 11 minutes in mobile web browsers).

If your app uses an ad-based revenue model, higher engagement can translate to higher advertising dollars. You can insert ads into your video streams, use display ads or include pre- or post-roll clips. Regardless, the longer consumers watch, the more opportunities you have to monetize their engagement.

 

2: Interactivity Is Expected in App Experiences

On a given day, the average U.S. adult is twice as likely to interact with their smartphone as they are with their own child—and nearly 90 percent of smartphone users are never, ever away from their device. Thanks to this ubiquity, today's consumers have a photo and video camera handy at all times, ready to capture and share moments of everyday life.

The popularity boom of apps with live and ephemeral streaming video, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Live.ly, reflects consumers’ desire to participate in these kinds of experiences. Not only can they record any moment at any time, they can also watch these moments on their own device as they happen.

In turn, this is shaping expectations for the mobile UX: Consumers expect more of their apps to offer functionality for broadcasting everyday moments in real time and high quality. They also expect video streams to load quickly, and for playback to be uninterrupted. In short: Your app needs reliable, high-performance live-streaming capabilities to deliver the UX consumers want.

 

3: Consumers Crave Authenticity

Whether it’s a news app, a social media platform or a game-streaming service, mobile consumers want to be active participants in the experience. Not only do they want to engage with other users, they want the ability to communicate with the broadcaster—and broadcasters want to communicate with them, too.

Facilitating real-time interaction between and among broadcasters and viewers build authenticity and trust for the platform. This level of engagement helps consumers feel the experience is genuine—and authentic, unique experiences are increasingly in demand in today’s instant-gratification culture.

Live-streaming video meets this demand, offering a window into a real moment users can experience vicariously. It also provides exclusive access to events users might never otherwise see, such as a political protest, an awards show or a tour of a star’s home. The unique nature of these experiences can be further enriched by adding interactive elements to live video streams—for example, real-time comments,  text and video chat or graphic overlays.

 

4: Mobile Video Is King

Everywhere you go, it seems everyone is staring at their phones. That’s because mobile consumption is through the roof: As of 2016, the average person spent nearly three hours a day on their phone, with mobile media usage passing 1 trillion monthly minutes.

What’s more, video is accounting for a growing amount of this consumption. Reuters predicts 70 percent of all mobile network traffic will be video by 2021. And the number of video posts per U.S. Facebook user has already increased by 94 percent.

Making this explosive growth possible is the fact that today’s smartphones are powerful devices for creating and viewing high-quality video—sometimes besting that of users’ TVs. High-resolution video, high-quality audio, interactive touch interfaces and, on some devices, virtual reality capabilities allow for innovative, immersive experiences. Demand is only growing for this type of rich, engaging content—so your app needs to offer it, too.

 

5: It’s Not as Hard as You Think

If you’re thinking all of this sounds really challenging to achieve, think again: Offering streaming capabilities is easier than ever. Companies such as Wowza are now creating developer-friendly SDKs that put robust 4K content studios in the palms of mobile users’ hands.

Sample application projects and cross-platform APIs can be used as templates to help you save time and simplify the software development life cycle. By using APIs to simplify the creation of powerful capabilities, you can spend less time learning about streaming—and more time creating the UX users demand.

No matter how user-friendly, there’s a learning curve with any new product. But don’t worry—if you get stuck, developer communities are growing on forums such as Slack, GitHub and Stack Overflow, where those well-versed in streaming are happy to lend a hand.

Consumers across markets are now seeking platforms that allow them to watch, create and share unique experiences. They want live-streaming video plus interactive capabilities, and they want it all delivered quickly, in high quality.

Will your app give them what they want—and win the battle for their attention?