Facebook goes full throttle on Live video streams – will prioritise over all other content

2 Mar 2016

Facebook has tweaked its algorithms to feature Live Video streams at the top of News Feeds, arguing people spend 3X more time on live content

Facebook has tweaked its algorithms to prioritise Live video streams above all other content and will push them to the top of News Feeds.

Facebook has said the change reflects the fact that people spend three times longer on Live video streams than saved ones and so it is pushing live broadcasts to the top of News Feed, making the social network, in effect, a quasi-TV station for the digital age.

The social network rolled out Facebook Live on iOS in December and last week began rolling it out on Android.

The move is the latest step in an evolution that has turned Facebook into one of the main sources for internet video, threatening YouTube’s dominance over the space and certainly competing with Twitter’s Periscope.

People spend three-times longer on Live video than recorded content

“Now that more and more people are watching Live videos, we are considering Live videos as a new content type – different from normal videos – and learning how to rank them for people in News Feed,” explained Vibhi Kant, product manager at Facebook.

“As a first step, we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live. People spend three-times longer watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live. This is because Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact.”

Facebook Live is currently only available for verified Pages and public figures using Mentions.

That raises the question, what will Facebook look like when every one of its 1.5bn users has the power to upload a live video?

“We will continue to learn how people are watching this new content type,” added software engineer Jie Xu.

In related news, reports have emerged that Facebook has offered to pay celebrities up to six-figure sums if they broadcast themselves on Live, signalling the first time Facebook has ever considered paying content creators.

According to Re/Code, Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has been in Hollywood talking to talent agencies about the move.

Smartphone video image via Shutterstock

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