Facebook is abruptly shifting the focus of product development toward live streaming as COVID-19 lockdowns lead to increased demand.
Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, told Bloomberg over the weekend that Facebook Live is “exploding” right now.
“This is a really unique moment. [Facebook has had to] adjust really quickly and really reshape our roadmap.”
The number of US users watching live video on Facebook has increased 50% since January, Bloomberg reports.
This is due, in no small part, to the fact that people around the world are stuck at home in a collective effort to prevent coronavirus from spreading.
Facebook is responding to the increased usage by accelerating the development of new features for Facebook Live.
New Features for Facebook Live
Facebook plans to make live streaming video accessible to more people, as well as more lucrative for those broadcasting the video.
The following new features are said to be coming within weeks:
- Watch Facebook Live videos without a Facebook account
- Automatic closed captioning
- Expansion of digital tipping capabilities to more streamers
- Toll-free phone numbers for charity streams to take live callers
In addition to these features, Facebook is also rolling out a whole new dashboard for managing live broadcasts.
Facebook Live Producer
A new Facebook tool called Live Producer lets page managers take greater control of their live broadcasts.
Live Producer is designed for pages that broadcast live video with higher-end production equipment and software.
Managing Live posts, scheduling, and certain types of broadcast settings can be done from the left-hand column.
Functions such as Source Details and Stream Health, plus interactive features like Polls, are located in the top navigation bar.
A small stream preview is constantly available in the bottom right-hand corner. Or you can scroll up to reveal a much larger view of the stream.
Facebook Pauses Work on Other Projects
As Facebook works on developing these additions to Facebook Live, it’s halting work on other products such as those that encourage in-person gathering.
Part of this shift in focus has already begun with Facebook showing fewer event reminders to people.
Facebook Marketplace is also considered less important right now since it’s not a good time to be meeting up with others to exchange physical goods.
Some employees of Facebook who were assigned to work on the now-less important products have been reassigned to helping small-and-medium sized businesses during this uncertain time.
In fact, the company is said to be working “incredibly quickly” to develop new ways for users and small businesses to make money on the Facebook platform.
Facebook Live is Highest Priority
These projects are of higher priority right now than even Facebook’s own company revenue.
Facebook doesn’t stand to gain a lot by refocusing its efforts on live streaming, at least not yet.
Operating primarily on an ads-based business model, Facebook Live has yet to be developed into a money-making product like YouTube and Twitch have done with their platforms.
That’s why there’s an urgent need to further develop Facebook Live sooner than later.
With Facebook’s ad businesses taking a hit recently, it’s in the best interest of the company and its users if it looks for new revenue opportunities during this time.