Social saves the radio star: Facebook reveals Live Audio platform

21 Dec 2016

Radio stars and authors could have a new future on the social spectrum, thanks to a new Live Audio feature from Facebook. Image: Aina Jameela/Shutterstock

Facebook is muscling in on the podcast business with a new Live Audio platform, including a collaboration with the BBC.

Facebook is launching a new Live Audio feature that will bring interviews, news and book readings to the social stratosphere.

The success of Live Video being embraced as a medium from publishers to politicians has emboldened Facebook to move to the sonic plane.

‘We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video’

Beginning with a few publishers, authors and broadcasters such as the BBC, the new platform will bring content like podcasts to the News Feed.

A new wall of sound?

Facebook reveals Live Audio platform

Has Facebook got its sights set on the lucrative podcasting market? Image: Aina Jameela/Shutterstock

It also could herald the return of radio on the social spectrum, enabling ordinary users to eventually create low-bandwidth broadcasting experiences.

The first publishers on the platform will be the BBC World Service, LBC talk radio, Harper Collins and authors Adam Grant and Brit Bennett.

“We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video,” said Shirley Ip, product specialist with Facebook.

“We’ve even seen some pages find creative ways to go live and reach audiences with audio only, by using the Facebook Live API or by adding a still image to accompany their audio broadcast.

“Our new Live Audio option makes it easy to go live with audio only“ when that’s the broadcaster’s preferred format.

“We also know that publishers sometimes go live from areas that lack strong network connectivity. Though we alert the broadcaster if their signal is low, Live Audio presents another option for connecting with audiences in real time from low-connectivity areas.

“From interviews to book readings, we’re excited about the layer of interactivity that Live Audio brings to both the broadcaster and listener. Just as with a live video on Facebook, listeners can discover live audio content in News Feed, ask questions and leave reactions in real time during the broadcast, and easily share with their friends,” Ip said.

Ip said that early next year, Facebook plans to make the new format more broadly available to publishers and the public.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years