This article first appeared in the KitPlus magazine.

We’ve just celebrated 80 years of television. And it’s been quite a journey from the birth of television to where we are now.

Only a small percentage of UK households had television sets when the BBC began broadcasting in 1936, and of course the Second World War temporarily suspended any television viewing shortly after that for the duration of the war. By 1947, there were still only 54,000 licensed television receivers. It wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 1970s that television had come into widespread use. Excluding the period of the Second World War, it took almost 30 years for ‘television’ to become part of our lives. When you consider that almost everyone has their own personal ‘television’ (and the means to make their own television) constantly in their pocket, that’s quite a leap forward.

Two key factors have driven the rapid rise of live streaming. The first would be technology; both the method to produce live streams and the method to receive and view live streams. But ultimately, it is our hunger for ‘content’ that has driven a surge in live streaming.

That, combined with the collective acceptance of ‘social’ and ‘mobile’ as concepts, has made platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube Live extremely popular.

User-generated content (UGC) has become the lifeblood of the social media organism, and the logical development of social media – from posting text, then images, followed by video – is now live video. And it’s not just a vehicle for teenagers either; businesses are getting in on the action too. Over the last couple of years – and particularly over the last year – we’ve provided live streaming facilities to lots of companies, all wanting to use platforms like YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Periscope to reach their audiences. Unlike traditional broadcast television, live streaming, particularly ‘social’ live streaming, offers a clearer ROI and of course can come at a lower cost. If you live stream to Facebook Live, for example, you have immediate metrics. For example, the viewer numbers are there for you see and happening in real-time. Plus, there is the ability to have a direct conversation with the user, so there can be real dialogue between the business and the community. If you compare this form of video marketing to traditional print marketing, for example, the differences and benefits are clear.

Several years ago, there were relatively few private, commercial channels owned by brands on over-the-air (OTA) and cable services like FreeView, Sky and Virgin. Those numbers have obviously increased over the last few years. But now, you don’t need your own channel. Live streaming gives you the power of having your own TV channel.

Of course, there can be downsides for the viewer. With the ability to produce so much content, production quality is sometimes compromised (depending on the company and/or producer). As viewers, we’ve become conditioned to ‘understand’ the format of television – whether we realise it or not. And we’re accustomed to certain levels of production quality. You don’t have to work in telly to spot the low budget shows versus the high budget ones. Whether it’s a live stream or a television broadcast, viewers want high quality, well produced content. And then there is the constant news stories of some individuals using live streaming for illegal and immoral uses. Remember as Uncle Ben says in Spider-Man (2002), “with great power, comes great responsibility!”. After a quick Google search, it turns out that several other people, including Churchill and Roosevelt also used that line – or variations of it – so credit to them too!

So – live streaming. It’s your opportunity to have your own TV channel. Just remember to use your power for good, not for bad!

If you need any help with your next streaming project, get in touch to see how Trickbox TV can help.