Facebook Puts Live Videos on Top, to Add Celebrity Content

Facebook took a step to popularize Live, by changing the algorithm to rank currently streaming videos higher in the News Feed than older ones. The company launched Live for celebrities in August, and then rolled it out to people with Verified Profiles and Pages. All iOS users gained access in January and Android users last week. Although Facebook Live videos can be saved, unlike Periscope videos, which are deleted after 24 hours, Facebook realized that Live videos convey an urgency that will make them more watched.

In fact, TechCrunch says Facebook knows that “people watch Live streams three times longer than saved ones.” With the new algorithm, Facebook will only send the user a push if the live streaming video comes from a close friend, a Page he’s recently interacted with or one he’s subscribed to. By pushing current videos to the top, the chance is greater that a Facebook user will actually watch it in-progress.

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TechCrunch says Facebook’s move helps show the ways that Live and Periscope are different. “Twitter will rely on notifications and you seeing the initial tweet or retweets of Periscopes.” Facebook, however, uses the centrality of its News Feed “to surface the best ongoing streams where you’re already looking.” Likes and comments also help to weed out the chaff and present only the best streams.

Facebook also has a plan to engage celebrities in its live streaming service, says Re/code, which reports chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg came to Los Angeles this week to sign up “a small group of test subjects” — one source suggested it might be 100 people — to actively use the service. In return, those people will get “some kind of payment.”

The initial group won’t be typical Hollywood famous people, but also probably include comedians and niche digital celebrities. Re/code reports that Facebook believes “the service will generate ad revenue,” and that ultimately it will share that revenue with those chosen celebrities.

A Facebook representative, speaking to Re/code, said, “Live is a really new format on Facebook and we’re just starting to understand its potential. To that end, we’re testing different ways to support partners so they begin experimenting with Facebook Live. We’ll be working closely with these partners to learn from them how we can build the best Facebook Live experience and explore with them potential monetization models.”