Facebook has just launch a new live streaming service in order to challenge the popular apps Periscope and Meerkat. There's one key difference however. You can only use it if you're a celebrity.
What exactly is it?
If you're familiar with Periscope or Meerkat (or David Beckham's MyEye) then Live is incredibly similar. It's another feature which allows people to use their phone to live stream video to followers.
The key difference is that you can only access and stream via the Facebook Mentions app. The Mentions app was launched just over a year ago, exclusively for those with clout behind their name. As such, if you want to live stream on Facebook to your friends, you better be famous for something.
For the average user - this means they can watch the live streams of celebrities they follow right in their news feeds, but they can't publish themselves. Users can comment on, like or share the video while watching a live broadcast. They can also see when your friends or other public figures start watching.
To help launch the new feature Facebook has enlisted the help of Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Serena Williams, Luke Bryan, Ricardo Kaká, Ashley Tisdale, Lester Holt, Martha Stewart, Michael Bublé and more.
Why only celebrities?
There's not concrete answer to this, but the likely reasons are:
1) Scalability - livestreaming uses a hell of a lot of data, and there's a lot of man power that needs to be done to support it. It may be that they are using this to test the feature in full, before rolling it out to almost two billion people
2) Quality Control - The larger consensus around this is more around the quality of the content. Facebook, for all its merits, is already a hotbed of data - much of it useless. It seems by limiting the feature to those more likely to deliver interesting content they are trying not to endanger their user base by rolling out a feature some members may end up finding annoying.
Will it roll out wider?
It's possible but currently the consensus is: not any time soon. Quality control is just such a key aspect for the business at the moment. Every earnings call and press conference seems to put focus on delivering quality relevant content. As David Court of Alphr puts it, Live for the masses would be a bad idea:
"Not just because it will be abused for honest, albeit dull reasons, but also for the other side of the coin. Live streaming is a feature that can be abused for dishonest reasons just as easily. How? Piracy, cyberbullying, ISIS and porn to name but a few. Better to let egotistical celebrities enforce a bit of self rule for the time being."
That said, if there was a logical next step it would be giving access to company pages and prominent brands. Imagine a livestream of the Facebook offices, or an event held by Red Bull. In the meantime though, celebrity partnerships just got a whole lot more appealing for brand managers.