The Revolution Will Be Live-Streamed

In a moment of grassroots government yesterday, Democratic lawmakers staged a sit-in on the floor of the US House of Representatives to protest the lack of progress on gun control legislation. That wasn't really the grassroots part, however. What made the situation noteworthy from a media perspective was the fact that Democrats had to find an alternative way to broadcast their protest when the in-House cameras delivering a feed of the event to C-SPAN were shut off according to protocol. (The cameras are always shut off when the House is not in session.)

So what did lawmakers do? They turned to live-streaming applications on their smartphones.

As reported by Politico, Representative Scott Peters (D-Calif.) began streaming the sit-in on Periscope, while Representative Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) and others switched on Facebook Live to transmit video of the protest. C-SPAN even picked up those broadcasts as a fill-in for its normal live feed.

Image courtesy of Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), as posted on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), as posted on Twitter.

Live-streaming applications have grown in popularity over the past year, with Twitter Inc. 's Periscope team noting in March that users had already created more than 200 million broadcasts using the app, and that "over 110 years of live video are watched every day on iOS and Android."

That translates into a lot of bandwidth.

According to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which talked to Light Reading earlier this month, Periscope already generates more traffic on its own than the websites for either CBS or Fox News. It also makes the list of top-30 video sites/apps globally as recorded in Cisco's annual VNI Forecast report. Ustream and Twitch, two other live-streaming platforms, generate similar traffic levels today. (See also Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, 2015 - 2020 and Unmanaged Video Is on the Rise.)

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

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