In the past few months, livestreaming has taken the digital world by storm, connecting users around the world to sporting events, concerts, breaking news, and product launches. The first mainstream company to enter the space was Meerkat, and has grown to nearly 2 million users today. Not long after Meerkat’s launch, Periscope came onto the scene with a very important partner in their corner – Twitter. They gained 1 million users within just 10 days of release in the Apple App Store.
With every step that Meerkat has taken to update and differentiate its service, it seems that Periscope is often right behind. Periscope launched its app for Android just a few weeks after Meerkat launched theirs. When Meerkat sought the support of celebrities and national brands like Madonna and Red Bull, Periscope wasn’t far behind, attracting entertainment moguls like Carson Daly and Ryan Seacrest.
While the concept of both Meerkat and Periscope is the same, there are still ways that each app has set itself apart. One of the biggest differences between the two is that on Periscope, you have access to a livestream for 24 hours after it ends, whereas on Meerkat, the stream is gone immediately. Depending on your preferences and concern for privacy, this single difference may determine which app is right for you. Periscope also has access to Twitter’s “social graph,” which allows users to connect with their Twitter followers that use the app.
In a head-to-head battle like this, there has to be a winner, right?
Let’s take a look at each app’s pros and cons, as well as their potential for future growth.
Being the first livestreaming app to hit the social scene, Meerkat has effectively attracted and retained the “early tech adopter” category of consumers. If you’re the type of person who is always looking for the next big thing in mobile technology, chances are you probably have Meerkat downloaded on your phone right now.
After being unveiled at the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival, consumers flocked to the App Store to download the free app, and Meerkat gained 160,000 followers within the first month. They also launched their app for Android before Periscope, giving them a head start on that target market.
Initially, Twitter allowed Meerkat access to its social graph; however, they revoked this partnership after Periscope’s public launch so Meerkat could no longer use the access as a competitive advantage. While this was certainly seen as a blow to Meerkat’s progress, they have found several ways to differentiate themselves and provide a positive user experience.
As previously mentioned, one of the biggest differences between Meerkat and Periscope is the availability to view livestreams after they have ended. While some users would find the instant disappearance of streams to be frustrating if they tuned in late, many others love this feature. Consumers are more concerned about their online privacy than ever before, as hacking into financial and social media accounts has become a daily occurrence. Knowing that your streams vanish upon completion provides peace of mind to consumers who might not want to use the app if the circumstances were different.
Look at how Snapchat has taken off, with over 100 million daily active users today. The app was founded on a similar premise to Meerkat, with the ability to share content with friends and have it disappear after 1-10 seconds. Now, Snapchat has expanded its reach with the Stories and Discover features to keep publisher content available for 24 hours, but its original purpose remains the most popular aspect of the app. It’s evident that this is a viable target market of consumers, and Meerkat is making it work in its favor quite well.
The other major advantage is that Meerkat now allows you to share your streams on Facebook, which Periscope does not. With Periscope’s popularity on the rise and Meerkat’s seemingly stagnant, this could be the push the app needs to remain a strong competitor.
Even though Periscope seems to be the front-runner in the industry, don’t dismiss Meerkat just yet, according to founder and CEO Ben Rubin. Like most industries, he feels that there is plenty of room for multiple players, saying that “It would be hilarious to say Twitter cannot exist because you post statuses on Facebook.” Each app has unique features that cater to a personalized audience, so even though they’re ultimately achieving the same goal, it doesn’t mean it has to be a monopolistic market.
Periscope made its presence known during the highly-anticipated Mayweather-Pacquiao (MayPac) Fight in May, when thousands of users logged in to view free streams of the match. Both Periscope and Meerkat showed the fight (causing a bit of legal controversy), but Periscope was clearly the preferred medium, with 10,000 viewers on one stream alone. Periscope has steadily grown its user base since then, and it’s clear that if you’re associated with Twitter, you’ll do pretty well for yourself.
The most significant benefit to Periscope users is that you don’t have to change your entire schedule around just to view a stream that’s of interest to you. If you miss out on it, you can catch it at a time that’s more convenient. Generally speaking, the perception of Periscope is that it’s easier to use than Meerkat and is well-developed for such a new app. These benefits could certainly be due to the fact that Meerkat was launched first and Periscope could learn from how users reacted to the app and apply it to their own product.
Having full access to Twitter’s API (including the social graph), Periscope can better understand its users’ preferences and interests, and you can very easily find and connect with Twitter followers on the app. For brands especially, this is a great way to engage with loyal customers and give them exclusive insight into upcoming promotions, product launches, and general company updates.
And the winner is…
In comparing Meerkat and Periscope, you really can’t crown one as the winner just yet. Meerkat gained a major competitive advantage by being the first to launch, attracting early adopters much like those who supported Apple in its early (and less popular) days. However, Periscope has Twitter on its side, which has drawn masses of users to the app and created a devoted following.
I certainly don’t believe that one of these companies will fade out completely and leave one brand to dominate the space; but I do think that over time, these two apps will begin to differ even more. As livestreaming continues to grow in popularity, these companies will be able to learn more about their user base and update their product to best serve these audiences.
To be honest, this industry has quite a ways to go. Brand awareness for both Meerkat and Periscope is much lower than other video-based networks, like Vine and Snapchat. Across all consumers, Meerkat’s total brand awareness is at 9% and Periscope’s is only at 6%. Breaking it down by specific age groups, Meerkat dominates all age ranges except the critical 18-34 group (which is probably due to the Periscope-Twitter alliance). They are also more popular overall with both men and women, so you can definitely argue the benefit of being the one to discover the “next big thing.” Consumer willingness to try out these apps is fairly high at 21%, so there is a great opportunity to grab a larger share of the market down the line.
It will be interesting to see how Meerkat and Periscope fare in the long-run, as consumers become more familiar with both products and develop preferences. Periscope may be leading the pack today, but I wouldn’t count out Meerkat entirely. They’ve developed a loyal following, and their presence on Facebook continues to give them a competitive advantage on the most popular social network in the world. Stay tuned!
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: In the Battle of Meerkat vs. Periscope, Who’s Winning?
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