Tumblr launches a live-video competitor for Periscope and Facebook Live

Roman Pyshchyk/Shutterstock
These days, it seems that just about every social network under the sun sports a platform for live-streamed videos. Facebook has Facebook Live, Google has YouTube Live, Twitter has Periscope, and Amazon has Twitch. But all that competition is not stopping Tumblr. Confirming rumors that emerged Monday afternoon, the Yahoo-owned platform has announced the launch of a live video component that’ll join the sea of well-established others. Unlike the others, though, Tumblr’s new service is more aggregator than host: it ties existing live-streaming solutions together into a unified hub.

The new service, self-descriptively dubbed live video, launched Tuesday, and it works like this: services with which Tumblr has struck a deal — YouTube, YouKnow, Kanvas, and Upclose, to start — will appear under a new “live video” option in Tumblr’s Anroid and iOS app. Sharing a stream with your Tumblr followers is as simple as opening one of the supported apps, beginning a broadcast, and blogging that broadcast within the Tumblr app. Your followers receive a notification, your stream begins, and new sessions — accompanied by icons that indicate the live-streaming service in use — appear at the top of followers’ Dashboard feeds. They’ll be saved for posterity.

If the initial list of streaming partners sounds small, that’s because it is. But Tumblr said it’s working with “a host of committed media partners and organizations” — Mashable, Refinery29, MTV, The Huffington Post, and more — to broaden support. Notable absences are Facebook Live, Twitch, and Persicope, but Tumblr said nothing technical precludes that sort of integration in the future — the business terms, presumably, are the holdup.

As for the caliber of events Tumblr is set to host, Tumblr’s scheduled kickoff event on Tuesday might hint at the content to come. Some of the inaugural series’ sessions are star-studded, like a basketball lesson from a Harlem Globetrotter and a Q&A session with Adam J. Kurtz. Others are a bit more off-kilter: a live stream from the surface of the planet Mars, for instance, and another in which the Tumblr team promises to “inflate a very big thing in a very small room.”

That Tumblr is making a play for a slice of the burgeoning live-video market isn’t exactly surprising. Online video accounts for upwards of 50 percent of traffic, according to Feedly, and advertisers are jumping on board: A recent survey of brand executives by marketing analytics firm Brandlive found that 39 percent believed that live-streaming video “would be important to their marketing efforts going forward.” And with some firms projecting that online video will be responsible for as much as four-fifths of internet traffic by 2019, there’s obvious potential for firms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to capitalize with advertising spots.

But it remains to be seen whether Tumblr will be able to attract away users who have already grown accustomed to competing live-streaming platforms. Periscope hit 200 million streams in March, and Twitch reaches tens of millions of viewers each month. Short of an ace-in-the-hole feature, Tumblr won’t have it easy.


4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives

Meet four women leaders who are not only at the forefront of technology today, but also using tech — from robotics and medicine to food and undergarments — to help others.

Here’s how you can watch today’s Nvidia GTC 2019 keynote live

Nvidia's rumored 7nm Ampere graphics could debut soon. The company will be kicking off its GPU Technology conference at 2 p.m. PT today, Monday, March 18, and you can watch the opening keynote here.

Achievements unlocked: Xbox Live is coming to mobile devices

Microsoft officially announced that Xbox Live features, including Achievements and friends lists, will be coming to iOS and Android games. Developers will be able to pick and choose which features to use.
Social Media

Twitter wants you to help shape the future design of its app

Twitter is launching an app for testing new design features and it wants you to get involved. Those accepted into the program will have the chance to try out different conversation designs aimed at improving the user experience.
Emerging Tech

Professional drone racing is flying onto Twitter this summer

Professional drone racing is coming to Twitter for the first time this summer. Organizers hope the streaming deal with the social media platform will help the growing sport to further broaden its audience.

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Social Media

Twitter takes a cue from Instagram and Snapchat with new quick-swipe camera

Twitter is giving the "what's happening" treatment to photos and video by allowing users to access the in-app camera fast enough to catch and share the moment. The new Twitter camera is now accessible with a swipe.
Social Media

Yep, it’s not just you. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for many

Facebook's family of apps has been suffering issues for much of the day. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook itself have been out of action for users around the world, with the company scrambling to sort it out.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.