What does “live” mean when we talk about content on the Web? We think of most Web content in terms of on-demand rather than live, but that is really more of a false holdover from how we consider our traditional media consumption. If we shift our perspective, we can see in the Live Web one of the most substantial opportunities for content publishers and consumers since the initial rise of mobile.
Traditional TV and radio are “live” because when you turn on the device, you instantly receive a video and an audio stream, respectively. The Live Web is similar, except that it is composed of any content or experience that has first been made available to the user at a singular point in time. To narrow it in more practical terms, I define the Live Web as consisting of content that goes through three stages – being upcoming, then live and finally on-demand (or off the Web such as sales or live stream only events on ESPN3.com).
While the most visible components of the Live Web are live streamed video events, such as an MMA fight on Ustream.tv, the live simulcast on Bloomberg or the presidential debates on multiple sites, the Live Web is also an auction on eBay, an audio session on ESPN Live, and a chat session with editors of Travel and Leisure on Facebook. Much like TV, wherein a lot of the content is actually pre-recorded content that is made available at a certain point of time, the Live Web also has content such as the articles on this site or an on-demand video on Hulu that was pre-prepared and then goes live on the Web at some point – they are all part of the Live Web.
The big difference from traditional television is that a lot of the Live Web isn’t scheduled or, if scheduled, hasn’t formally instituted a schedule. So, the Live Web is all around us. We just usually aren’t aware of it because it hasn’t been surfaced for us – we don’t know what we don’t know we’re missing.