Reviewing Periscope: Risks and Advantages

Periscope in action

Periscope in action

Founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Kayvon Bekypour and Joe Bernstein, and subsequently purchased by Twitter a year later, Periscope is a leading app for users to broadcast their daily happenings. With a click of a few buttons, users can stream video to their fans, see others’ live broadcasts, and actively participate in live-streams by writing comments. Periscope has huge potential for growth; in the 4 months after launching it reached 10 million visitors, 20% of them active users.

How It Works

Available on Google Play and iTunes, smart-phone users can download Periscope for free and sign in with Twitter. Not a Twitter user? Fear not; Periscope provides a sign-in for anyone who simply wants to use his or her phone number. Not only does this give the user an easy and foolproof way to use Periscope, but it also expands the apps target audience exponentially; if you have a smartphone, you can create a Periscope account.

Once you create an account, you can add friends, or start watching random live broadcasts. Friends can be found by searching by username, but if you want to watch a random broadcast, you can “Teleport” yourself around the world to watch what other people are up to.

While watching the broadcast, you can tap the video to send “hearts” of appreciation, or comment. Watching a video about someone asking how to fix their hair? Send a comment suggesting a styling technique.

In order to create your own video, you can click on the red camera button on the bottom right hand corner of your screen. After the live broadcast is over, the video stays up for 24 hours, where users can see the video as well as the comments made in the video. In addition, you can link the live stream to your Twitter account.

While the many broadcasts you happen upon might seem mundane, those with funny videos, or celebrities documenting their day can easily rack up viewers around the world. In addition, when faced with a deadly terrorist attack, Periscope can help people around the world see what is going on from a different vantage point. In fact, it was for this purpose that Periscope was originally created. Not only can ordinary viewers get a new perspective on crises, but government officials can use Periscope to neutralize situations quickly.

Too Good to Be True? My Thoughts

Though its taken me a while to overcome my petty frustration that the color schemes between Twitter and Periscope are just slightly different, I find Periscope to be intuitive and accessible. However, while it has its benefits, Periscope can pose serious disruptions for the entertainment industry. In a recent case, HBO went after Periscope because Periscope users were live-streaming the season premiere of “Game of Thrones.” Even though Twitter complied and removed all videos that had the live-stream, they were still reprimanded for not having any security measures against copyright infringement. In addition, those who pay to see concerts or plays can live broadcast these cultural products. Though the effect of this illegal digital distribution is uncertain, many producers contend that it would stunt demand for tickets.

Despite this threat to the arts and entertainment industry, Periscope’s advantages seem to outweigh its risks. As a body of litigation continues to develop around the app, it will be interesting to track precedents that are created. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing how innovative arts organizations adopt the app and use it to engage audiences across digital channels.