Here’s What Tumblr Is Doing About Live Video Broadcasting
Why build a video broadcasting tool when you have friends who already have one?
That’s exactly what Tumblr, the quirky blogging service Yahoo (YHOO) acquired in 2013 for $1.1 billion, apparently said to itself as it planned its move into the exploding arena of live video. On Tuesday, Tumblr finally unveiled how it plans to let users publish live videos after its corporate blog gave away its plans on Monday.
In short, Tumblr is teaming up with a few existing video broadcasting services—YouNow, YouTube, Kanvas, and Upclose—to let their users publish their live videos during and after onto their Tumblr blogs. Users can make an account on any of these services, then connect their Tumblr account to it via its app. When they broadcast a live video session, they can tap the Tumblr sharing button and their Tumblr followers will get a push notification to let them know to tune in. The video will be placed at the top of their followers’ dashboard, the section they see when they log into Tumblr.
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Once the session is over, the video will be published on a user’s Tumblr as a regular video post and others can repost it on their own blogs. Tumblr’s blogging network will naturally enable the “discovery” of live videos thanks to its users’ habit of reposting each others’ content, which can get a post in front of even more eyeballs.
“Tumblr has always been a media-agnostic platform,” a Tumblr spokeswoman told Fortune in a statement when asked why the company opted to lean on existing video services instead of its own.
“The energy and creativity in the live video space demanded that we partner with some of the most exciting services available to enable the continued innovation and limitless expression that our community has come to love, expect, and enjoy,” she added.
Tumblr is also kicking things off by partnering with a few publishers, including Mashable, Refinery29, MTV, and The Huffington Post. As part of the deal, these publishers will create video broadcasts using Tumblr’s partner services, and in return, those videos will be available through these video streaming services and will get extra promotion on Tumblr’s website.
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Tumblr’s approach is both like and unlike its competitors, which are mainly Twitter (TWTR) and its Periscope service, and Facebook’s (FB) Live Video. Like them, it’s making those videos available on its social network where users and their followers can tune in or catch up on them. And like its competitors, it’s enlisting big-brand publishers to create presumably interesting content and convince their own fans and audience to use the service to watch these videos.
But obviously, it also did things differently by adopting existing video apps instead of building its own. In turn, this will mean that video creation isn’t native to its mobile apps. Asking users to download an extra app could be a deterrent. As for monetizing the videos, it could be easy for Tumblr to insert ads into a video once it has ended and is saved onto the user’s blog, but it’s out of luck if a user doesn’t broadcast it on Tumblr. And monetization happens to be a crucial focus for Tumblr, which has reportedly failed to hit the $100 million revenue target parent company Yahoo set in 2014, and whose value has been written down by $230 million recently.
Moreover, it will be interesting to see how Tumblr’s users react to live video. Though many use the service to create blogs just as they would any other blogging tool, many also create anonymous ones on which they post photos or GIFs they find elsewhere. The latter group might be hard-pressed to start broadcasting video footage of themselves.
Still, we’ll have to see how Tumblr’s strategy ultimately pans out.