The line between Twitter and its livestreaming service, Periscope, is beginning to fade. Starting today, anyone can broadcast by hitting the compose tweet button inside Twitter’s iOS and Android apps, followed by the “Live” button. Instead of being bounced to the Periscope app, however, you’ll now start start a livestream immediately. The functionality is still “powered by Periscope,” and indeed the experience is mostly the same as before — you write a quick caption before you go live, and then registered users can leave hearts and comments while you stream. Is this a direct reaction to Facebook Live’s growing popularity? Almost certainly.
Periscope as a self-contained service won’t be disappearing anytime soon, however. “Our apps and web player on periscope.tv remain the best place to search and discover Periscope content,” the team said in a blog post. While that may be true, the reasons for downloading and using the Periscope app are now greatly reduced. All but the most diehard Periscope fans will be better served by the Twitter app, streaming from the compose interface and watching the broadcasts that pop up in their feed.
For Twitter, it’s an opportunity to reinforce video and livestreaming as a fundamental part of its service. The company has inked a few broadcasting deals, spanning the NFL, Wimbledon tennis and the US Presidential debates, but much of its value comes from user-submitted contributions. That’s what makes it such a valuable tool for activism, citizen journalism and general public debate. The rise of Facebook Live threatens to erode that utility, while publishers, celebrities and brands hunt for larger audiences. Twitter and Periscope’s fusion was inevitable — the question is how long the company keeps the latter around as a standalone entity.
We all saw what happened to Vine.