As Facebook faced a challenging PR nightmare during the past week, an announcement by the social media giant probably came under the radar for most of you. While the social media community wrestles with trust, Facebook took another step forward in live streaming. Late last week, they released a programming kit bypassing third-party software allowing users to live stream their video games directly on Facebook, tightening the competition among Twitch and YouTube.
Live Video Race between YouTube and Facebook
Live video viewing from the top social media platforms continues to draw audiences worldwide. And as a result, Quantum Stat investigated the most used platforms:As of Q1 2018, the leading platform is YouTube with 42% of US internet users using the video platform in the past 30 days. Not surprisingly, Facebook is the 2nd most used platform with 39% of internet users using the platform as a result of their large audience reach.
Live Video Game Streaming: Facebook Shows Growth
However, when we focus on a subset of live video, one cannot notice the small but burgeoning cult following of live video game streaming. According to a recent report from Streamlabs, Facebook saw the largest increase of active streamers between Q3 and Q4 2017 with 61% growth. Although these numbers look impressive, Amazon’s Twitch continues to be market leader with 813,806 unique active streamers vs. Facebook’s 27,507 as of Q4 2017.
The Long Game
It makes sense for Facebook to simplify PC live streaming on their platform, in fact, they are incentivized to do so because of this very cool PC gadget they own (you probably heard of it): The Oculus Rift. Facebook’s VR headset is a long-term investment that is already paying dividends. Earlier this month, for the first time ever, it became the most used VR headset on Steam, the online video game platform, edging out the HTC Vive with a 47% market lead. Although VR gamers are a very small proportion of total PC gamers (0.3%); VR headset shipments worldwide is expected to hit 12.4 million in 2018; growing to 68.9 million by 2022, according to IDC’s March 2018 forecast.
Bottom line: All major tech companies such as Google’s YouTube, Amazon’s Twitch and Facebook are investing in the niche live video game streaming world. However, Facebook’s small but steady growing footprint holds a credible long-term advantage as a leading VR owner coupled with a massive social media following. The investment of acquiring Oculus for $2 billion in 2014 shows why Facebook was playing the long game all along.