How Periscope Paved the Way for Live Streaming

The end of an era

Key Takeaways

  • Twitter’s Periscope app will shut down in March 2021 after a successful six-year run. 
  • Periscope introduced the world to the possibilities of live streaming before others like Facebook Live came onto the scene. 
  • Experts say Periscope allowed the technology and the purpose of live streaming to evolve over the years.
The Periscope app displayed on a smartphone.
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Earlier this week, the live streaming Twitter app, Periscope, announced it would discontinue next year, marking the end of an era to the app that introduced the world to live streaming as we know it today. 

Periscope will officially be discontinued in March 2021—exactly six years after its launch—due to unsustainable maintenance and declining usage. But experts say its deactivation does not mean it was a failure.

"I began on Periscope right after it launched in March 2015, and it was a complete game-changer," Kerry Shearer, a live streaming communications expert in Sacramento, told Lifewire over the phone. "Here was a service that allowed you to go live to the entire world from a smartphone."

I think [Periscope] exposed people to lots of different points of view and new information that was delivered in an impactful way.

Periscope’s Legacy 

Periscope’s launch was the first time many people had access to live streaming, and therefore, access to different pockets of the world through other people’s eyes in real-time. From breaking news coverage to entrepreneurs trying to cultivate an audience, Periscope’s legacy was connecting people. 

"Although it’s time to say goodbye, the legacy of Periscope will live on far beyond the boundaries of the app itself," Periscope wrote in its announcement. "The capabilities and ethos of the Periscope team and infrastructure already permeate Twitter, and we’re confident that live video still has the potential of seeing an even wider audience within the Twitter product."

Shearer said that from its initial launch, he could tell how impactful live streaming was going to be. He said everyone from chocolatiers to mental health professionals "scoped" and built an audience and a business. 

"Online entrepreneurs hopped on right away and began teaching whatever their area of expertise might be and building really big audiences," he said.

Someone recording a press conference on Periscope on a smartphone.
Mary Turner / Getty Images

Outside of entrepreneurs, for the average Twitter user, he said Periscope connected people to real-time news, like the Democratic sit in of 2016, and entertainment like watching a live concert 2,000 miles away. 

"I think [Periscope] exposed people to lots of different points of view and new information that was delivered in an impactful way," Shearer said. 

He said some of Periscope's stand-out features were the ability to build followers by automatically getting a push notification when someone went live. Also, the imperfect nature of going live captured audiences in a new and even better way than professionally produced videos. 

"When you see people and listen to them, it’s just a whole different way of consuming information than reading a tweet or a blog post," he said. 

The Live Streaming World Today

Periscope paved the way for other live streaming platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Twitch, and more, but Shearer said it was the forerunner of these competitors since it was the first successful live streaming app

"Periscope showed other app developers that there was a big market for sharing content via live video," he said. 

Aside from live streaming options expanding, the tech has grown since Periscope’s initial debut. "At first, with Periscope, you could only do vertical videos," Shearer said. "Now, you can connect an entire TV studio and do high-quality live streams with a huge range of gear."

Someone making a video about beauty products.
PixelsEffect / Getty Images

The tech nowadays allows professional live-streamers (a line of work that never existed prior to Periscope) to have professional quality audio, portable LED lights, and mounts that allow for a steady shot. But for those looking to dip their toes into the live streaming world, Shearer said it doesn't have to be perfect. 

"A lot of people are scared to go on live video because they are worried what people will say or think," he said. "The fact is, it doesn't have to be perfect, and if you're passionate about your topic, then you're going to be successful using live video."

As far as where the future of live streaming will go beyond Periscope, Shearer said it would benefit businesses, especially in this pandemic era we are living in. 

"I think live streaming is going to be an even more important tool for businesses right now," he said. "Small businesses that know how to use live video to connect regularly with their customers have an opportunity to build greater connections, and as a result, hopefully, enough sales to keep them afloat."

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