Photograph by Getty Images
By Leena Rao
June 24, 2016

YouTube just debuted live streaming from its mobile app, as it looks to compete with the growing live streaming services from Twitter and Facebook.

The Google-owned online video giant announced the new feature on Thursday and said that for now, live streaming will only be available for a select number of creators including the The Young Turks, AIB, Platica Polinesia, SacconeJolys, and Alex Wassabi. YouTube didn’t give a date when the feature would be available for general use, but said it was coming “soon.”

At first glance, YouTube’s mobile live streaming looks a lot like Periscope, the live streaming app from Twitter. From the core YouTube mobile app, you press a large, red capture button in the corner of the app when you want to start live streaming, take or select a photo that can be used as a thumbnail, and you can broadcast live to anyone. Like Periscope, viewers can comment and the comments will appear in real-time on top of the live stream.

Videos shot through mobile live streaming will be saved and users will be able to search for them in the app. YouTube’s also touted its existing online video “infrastructure,” promising that its live streaming service will be more reliable and faster than competitors.

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YouTbe’s move comes at a time when Facebook has also been touting the power of its live streaming service, Facebook Live. During the recent House of Representatives Democratic protest over gun control measures, cable TV stations weren’t able to broadcast the protests but several congresspeople used Facebook Live and Periscope to live stream the events.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday morning that the Facebook Live broadcasts were viewed more than 3 million times.

Once YouTube does open its mobile live streaming feature more broadly, it will have to prove that it can compete with Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope. That’s no small feat as both Twitter and Facebook have made it clear that live video are important focuses for both social networks.

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