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How Are Internet Users Watching Live Streaming?

Facebook viewership grew slightly, while other platforms slipped

January 17, 2017 | Social Media | Video

Live video viewership edged lower in the second half of 2016, according to research by the UBS Evidence Lab. It found that 36% of internet users said they watched live video as of November—2 percentage points less than those who reported watching in a June survey by UBS.

Platforms on Which US Internet Users Have Watched Live Streaming Video, June & Nov 2016 (% of respondents)

Though most individual channels saw slight declines in viewership between June and November 2016, Facebook showed a gain. Viewership on Facebook grew from 14% to 17% over the six month period.

Facebook's greatest rival, YouTube, lost momentum. Back in June, when UBS conducted its survey, 21% of respondents saying they had watched live-streaming there. By November, only 16% of respondents said they watched live videos on YouTube. Snapchat held on as the third most popular channel for live video consumption, but viewership dropped by 2 percentage points.

It's important to note, however, that the slight declines are not necessarily indicative of poor performance of live content on specific platforms. Rather, it points to the infancy of the market, according to eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna.

"The majority of YouTube's content is archived video, as opposed to live, so the Google-owned platform's outsized presence in a list otherwise devoted to live streaming services suggests that survey participants may have interpreted live video as something other than a stream carried in real time," Verna said.

Still, it's worth applauding Facebook's efforts, he said. "Facebook's investments in live video are paying off. The data points to a fluid market in which Facebook is emerging as the leader."

Facebook introduced Live Videos back in December 2015, and has since doubled down on its commitment to video, introducing new products and tools throughout 2016. Most recently, the company rolled out a dedicated video tab for the Facebook app to make videos easier to find. This move, according to UBS, is likely to further increase live video viewership on Facebook.

In the meantime, millennials are the biggest consumers and creators of live video—63% have watched live content and 42% have created it.

This article has been updated to correct the current state of live video viewing, according to the UBS survey.

—Maria Minsker

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