Microsoft Buys Beam for Live Streams

Everyone is counting on video to fuel the next round of online revenue generation, but different companies are going about it in different ways.

Facebook has Facebook Live for live broadcasting, Twitter Inc. is making deals to stream sports shows online and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) continues to take over the world with premium original content. (See Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Live Video.)

Today Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) laid out its next move in video with the announcement that the company has acquired interactive live-streaming service Beam. Instead of pushing passive entertainment, or even passive entertainment mixed with social networking streams, Microsoft wants to use Beam with Xbox to enable both joint viewing and cooperative play in games like "Minecraft" and the upcoming title "Sea of Thieves."

Want to know more about video and TV market trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

Beam gives Microsoft lots of potential monetization options. The service lets streamers define how viewers/co-gamers can participate in a given session, and Microsoft says the technology is designed to work with any game. That means that people who use the platform to live stream can also implement elements like quests and challenges, which not only attract fans, but also open up opportunities to reward viewers and entice them with new offers and promotions.

In fact, Beam already offers something called "Sparks," which users can accumulate and spend on upgrades. Beam gives the example that viewers can earn Sparks for every minute they spend watching content without an ad blocker.

For years Microsoft tried to crack the code on the TV market, but when it floundered there, it changed course to focus more heavily on gaming. (See FiOS Snags Xbox One First and Ericsson Buys Microsoft's IPTV Unit.)

As it turns out, gaming and video could work pretty well together.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

kq4ym 8/24/2016 | 11:22:03 AM
How Far Will Gaming Go? I'm still a bit skeptical of the gaming market which is becoming pretty crowded it seems to me with the big guys trying to take over there. Twitch.tv gained a big head start and garnered most of the gamers. " Microsoft wants to use Beam with Xbox to enable both joint viewing and cooperative play in games," sounds like a plan, but they stiill have to compete with others in the huge but tricky market for getting lots of youthful eyeballs.
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