The social network Facebook is expanding its "Live" functionality with new video streaming options. As well as streaming live video from smartphones, it's now possible to stream from a computer, broadcasting footage from the webcam or sharing what's on screen. This could be particularly useful for live streaming video games, lining up Facebook as a rival for platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
Any Facebook account holder will soon be able to stream live video from their computer, sharing their desktop and adding onscreen graphics, titles and overlays, or switching between the desktop and the webcam. A "Live Video" button on the top of the newsfeed launches the process, prompting users to add a description and define who can watch.
While these new options could be used to make content like tutorials, for example, Facebook is largely targeting gamers, looking to live stream games sessions with commentaries. Users looking to share their experience will need compatible streaming software (Open Broadcaster Software, Wirecast, XSplit). A stream key provided by Facebook must then be copied into the streaming software when preparing to go live.
Facebook's desktop broadcasts are similar to services already available via the Twitch website. However, with the social network, gamers can define their audiences (friends, a specific group, public, etc.). Plus, people don't have to sign up to a new service to tune in, as the live stream arrives straight on newsfeeds.
Facebook Live isn't the only rival taking on Twitch, which is popular with young gamers all around the world. Google's YouTube Gaming, launched in 2015, offers gamers a specific platform for sharing video game live streams on YouTube.
Facebook will now be rolling out the function to its 1.5 billion users, directly via their existing accounts.