Facebook Overlays Live Video with Viewer Comments, Emoji

Facebook now puts viewer comments and reaction emoji as an overlaid graph on Live videos. That enables a user who fast-forwards through a recorded Live clip to identify which parts of the video are worth watching and which can be skipped. The new capability could encourage amateurs to pay more attention to how their videos are shot and paced, ultimately making their content more compelling. Periscope offers a similar ability to leave real-time feedback in the form of “hearts” on live streams.

TechCrunch reports that Facebook’s head of video Fidji Simo said “around two-thirds of the watch time for Facebook Live happens when the video is no longer live, which tells us that people are interested in watching live videos even if they can’t catch them while they’re happening.”

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Periscope similarly launched a #Save feature, so users can replay live streams permanently. But, “Facebook is putting engagement to novel use,” according to Simo, who notes that “when people watch a live video after the fact, the engagement graph provides a valuable signal that can help people explore the video and easily identify highlights that they may find engaging, which could encourage people to spend more time with a video that they might have otherwise skipped over.”

The graph, which is already rolling out to some users now, shows blue peaks and valleys for “high and low volumes of engagement.” Facebook is also beginning to “show Live video reaction replays that appear in sync on recorded versions of broadcasts so it feels like you’re watching in real time,” with the faces of friends and the emojis they left.

The new structure might inspire creators to build to big climaxes, not unlike the mid-episode cliffhangers used in primetime TV shows.

TechCrunch surmises that if “users are less worried about boring their friends to death, they might be more confident about hopping in front of the camera.”

“While we can’t totally replicate the experience of watching live, we want to help people feel ‘in’ on the action after the fact,” said Simo. But, impatient viewers could also ruin “any sense of coherent, linear storytelling,” suggests the article. “The mobile live streaming medium is so new that norms are still emerging,” it notes.