One eminent question is hovering over the heads of marketers these days: Periscope or Facebook Live? In this post, we will look at eight live video broadcasting examples from New York City FC, UEFA, Juventus FC and others to explore which platform provides a higher views-to-followers (V2F) ratio, a simple non-vanity metric to assess the relative success of a respective live stream.
Periscope vs Facebook Live, no Meerkat
Meerkat, the app that made live video broadcasting available to the general social media user at SXSW 2015, has left the race for dominance in said space only one year after its launch (Beckett, 2016). With the acquisition of Periscope by Twitter in early 2015, various media outlets foresaw Periscope becoming the ‘next big thing’ in social media (cf. Cargill, 2015; Flynn, 2015; Halpern, 2015). After the company reported 200 million broadcasted video streams in its first year with 100 million of the streams having been broadcasted in the last quarter of that period (Heine, 2016; Ulanoff, 2016), the argument that Periscope could establish itself as a leading social media communication tool for brands and organisations became – and still is – very legitimate.
According to aggregated numbers by RESULT Sports, as of 1 March 2016, only 0.12% (1,090,094 users) of the 917,957,300 social media users following football clubs from the five major European football championships (German Bundesliga, English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1, and Italian Serie A), subscribed to clubs on Periscope (Digital Sports Media, 2016). Certainly a social media opportunity for European football clubs there.
In direct competition, Facebook introduced live video streaming in December 2015 for iOS and in February 2016 for Android for all its users (Kant, 2016). All followers/likers of a football club’s page are theoretically subscribed to Facebook live videos, which gives Facebook arguably the widest total reach in regard to live video broadcasting on any social networking platform.
Guy Kawasaki, a well-known Silicon Valley investor, explored the live video broadcasting possibility on his own Facebook and Periscope accounts. Kawasaki (2016) explained in a Facebook post that he broadcasted back-to-back, identical videos on Facebook and Periscope and received 28 times more views on Facebook than Periscope, although his Twitter account, which is connected to Periscope, counts five times more followers than his Facebook account. Although Kawasaki’s numbers depict Facebook as the prevailing platform in his experiment, the quality of the views in terms of engagement, including time spent per view, likes/hearts, and other non-vanity metrics, needs to be considered before making a final judgment.
We might not yet be able to analyse said metrics on Facebook Live and Periscope in-depth, but we can observe which platform provides a higher views-to-followers (V2F) ratio. The V2F ratio is an easily accessible metric, given that the numbers needed to calculate the ratio – view count and likers/followers – are readily available on the streamed video and channel of the broadcaster respectively. Measuring the V2F ratio gives an idea of how many likers/followers of the organisation are actually reached with a specific video. Reasons for a low V2F ratio include inactivity of the user on the platform, users are not interested in the provided content, or users are not served the content due to the timeline algorithm of the platform, a high probability in the case of Facebook.
But back to our main question: Should football clubs (or any company for that matter) implement Facebook Live for their live video communication efforts or should they rely on Periscope?
I applied a simple observation approach to get a sense of what is happening on both platforms right now. In the time of 12th to 18th of May 2016, I randomly picked live streams of football organisations that broadcasted on Facebook or Periscope (see Table 2) or both (see Table 1). If the organisation broadcasted on both channels, I collected the data (individual video views and total amount of likers/followers of the Facebook page and Periscope channel) at the same point in time in order to calculate an accurate views-to-followers ratio. The Periscope view-count is an aggregate of live viewers and replay viewers.
Table 1 shows four example live videos that were broadcasted on Facebook AND Periscope at the same time or approximately at the same time. Example 4 in Table 1 is listed twice, because the data was collected twice, after approximately 1 hour from the broadcast and after approximately 13 hours, to analyse if a considerable difference in view-count would occur in regard to the shelf-life of a video.
- Example 1: The first broadcast in the table was made on 15 May 2016 from Major League Soccer club New York City FC, who streamed the warm ups in their game versus Portland Timbers. Although Facebook counts 10 times more views than Periscope (6,456 on Facebook, 628 on Periscope), Periscope counts a 10 times higher V2F ratio, 4.62% on Periscope versus 0.44% on Facebook).
- Example 2: A similar phenomenon can be observed in our next broadcast that shows Liverpool FC’s Jürgen Klopp in his press conference before the UEFA Europa League final against Sevilla. The video was broadcasted on the official UEFA Europa League channels, which reached 63,800 views on Facebook with 13,398,966 likers and 7,530 on Periscope with 61,163 followers. This equates to a V2F ratio of 0.48% on Facebook and 12.31% on Periscope. The V2F ratio on Periscope is 25 times higher than on Facebook.
- Example 3: Our third video comes from the FC schalke 04 press conference introducing their new head coach on 18 May 2016. What struck me most here was that the V2F ratio hit more than 24% on Periscope with the majority of the views coming from live viewers, whereas it stayed as low as 1.79% on Facebook. These numbers were collected only 8 minutes after the broadcast ended. I did not check if the V2F ratio increased on Facebook later on. Based on all observations in this post, it is highly unlikely that it reached the level of Periscope in due time.
- Example 4: The last example comes again from a pre-match warm up of New York City FC. Here I collected the data approximately 1 hour after the broadcast ended and 13 hours later. I wanted to see if 12 hours would bring considerable changes to the V2F ratio, which it didn’t. Similar to the streaming on 15 May (Example 1), Periscope counts a 10 times higher V2F ratio approximately 1 hour after the broadcast. However, Facebook’s V2F ratio increased from 0.37% to 0.60% after 12 hours. A valid assumption is that the increase comes from Facebook ranking the replay of the video high on users’ timelines. Nevertheless, the V2F ratio on Periscope is still more than 5 times higher than on Facebook even after 13 hours.
Table 2 shows four live videos that were broadcasted on Facebook OR Periscope.
- Example 1: Paris St. Germain broadcasted an inaugural visit at École Rouge & Bleu of Fondation PSG on 12 May 2016 and reached a V2F ratio of 4.78%, similar to what New York City FC reached with its streams on Periscope (see Table 1).
- Example 2: Swiss club FC Zurich reached 4,900 people on Facebook with the press conference introducing their new head coach Uli Forte. Hence, a V2F ratio of 4.20%. In comparison to all Facebook live streams in Table 1, this is a considerably higher ratio. This higher ratio could be due to fans of FC Zurich being strongly interested in the content of this particular stream, namely managerial changes, given that the club is struggling with relegation. It could also be due to favourable time of day or high media coverage of this exact event.
- Example 3: Premier League side Crystal Palace FC periscoped their warm up on 15 May 2016 and reached 6.61% of their followers, a good average for a football club on Periscope.
- Example 4: On 19 May 2016, Italian Serie A side Juventus FC streamed the arrival in Rome for their preparation of the Coppa Italia final clash. 52,000 people watched it on Facebook, which equates to a 0.22% views-to-followers (V2F) ratio. The data was collected approximately 1 hour after the start of the stream. It can be assumed that it increased within the next hours. Although it is questionable, if it ever reached the level of the Periscope examples in this post.
Although social media maven Guy Kawasaki has had a better experience with Facebook instead of Periscope in terms of live video broadcasting, it is questionable if Facebook is the better option for football clubs. This rudimentary research shows that if a football organisation searches for a higher relative engagement number – the views-to-followers (V2F) ratio, as we named it in this post – Periscope is the better choice at this point in time. No V2F ratio dropped below 3.31% on Periscope in all our eight examples, whereas it only went higher than 1% twice on Facebook.
Nevertheless, Facebook provides higher absolute reach for football organisations. This can be important if relevant engagement can be created. This could be measured through metrics such as attention span/minutes watched, shares, comments, and sentiments. In addition, it needs to be considered that Facebook might start asking organisations to pay for the reach of their live streams at some point in time, just as it is common with Facebook posts right now.
In my opinion, it is too early to decide which live video broadcasting platform to use as a football organisation. If a club can invest the necessary human resources, I would suggest to test both platforms, as New York City FC and FC Schalke 04 do. Continuous analysis of all activities will provide insights into what content and activities work on which channel.
The examples in this post do not consider the main target audience of the organisations and do not consider the time of day or the day on which the videos were broadcasted. Additionally, the content of the video can play a crucial role in the success of the video, given that more third parties with potentially wide reach might share said video with their own following. Such factors can influence the viewing and engagement behaviour of the online audience. Furthermore, the size of the following of the organisations was not considered in the analysis, but might have an impact on the viewing results.
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