tvnewsTwitter enabled any person to reach anyone in the world directly with 140 characters of text. And, of course, you know it’s now being used as a news source for millions of people throughout the world. News always breaks on Twitter before it breaks on television.

But WHY is the ability to reach the world directly in real time limited to text?

Why can’t anyone in the world open an app on their smart phone, click one button – and INSTANTLY be streaming live to the world?

Why can’t anyone open their phone, see a quick summary of all the people/brands they’re following streaming right now — and tune into the one they want to consume in real time?

The massive opportunity I see is the ability to stream live to the world, direct from your mobile phone with the click of a button. Imagine a Twitter like platform, for live video.

Imagine a real time video feed of Syria with analysis from a local witnessing the events. Or Tahrir Square, Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, or any other major event of interest. A whole new breed of reporters would emerge — the people AT the location when something is happening in real time. Traditional media could even tap into these sources so as not to have to send video equipment to the location.

It’s not a technology issue. Major media brands such as CNN, ESPN, and NBC already stream news and content live online. There is Ustream and Google Hangouts On Air, which indeed can do the trick. But only uber geeks use those platforms (from my experience).

The reason such a real time peer-to-peer video platform doesn’t already exist is largely due to ease of use, along with the demand side of the equation. People aren’t going to broadcast live, if no one is watching. The classic chicken and egg problem.

That said, I’m convinced a few influential people could kickstart such a platform. Someone such as Gary Vaynerchuk would draw quite an audience if he streamed 15 or 30 minutes every day or two. Or niche online media outlets such as GeekWire, for that matter. How about it Todd and John? Why not broadcast a 30 minute daily show, or weekly recap?

What’s needed is a drop dead simple way for anyone to record live to the world from a smart phone with one click. It needs to JUST WORK – without any hassle or crashing. To start, you’d just enable people to share their broadcast link on Facebook or Twitter – but over time, a way to follow the people, or eventually brands, you were interested in – and have a quick and easy way to figure out when the people you care about are broadcasting.

In every single vertical, we are seeing a shift to P2P. I’m not sure when it will happen, but I’m convinced live streaming from your phone is the next phase of news.

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Oh Hey World. Global nomad originating in Seattle. Ex-Zillow community builder. Social Entrepreneur. Microfinance advocate. Travel addict. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva. Find him on Twitter @drewmeyers.

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  • Brandon Quach

    Another problem is that mobile data speed needs to improve so that latency diminishes but Moore’s law will definitely continue to enable p2p live streaming to work

    • Drew Meyers

      Yup, agree. You can already watch youtube videos on the go, but it’s not always a great, no lag experience.

  • JohnNiles

    Opening line above: “Twitter enabled any person to reach anyone in the world directly with 140 characters of text.” That is, a Tweet.

    Qualifier — A particular Tweet reaches the people who happen to be looking at a screen where that Tweet will show. Most Tweets are seen by very few people.

    The opening line is more descriptive of email than Twitter. And email doesn’t have a 140 character limit. But not all emails are read by the recipient, as we all know.

    Twitter is a broadcast medium. A Tweet sits out there in cyberspace available to be read by anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

    But most of the time, for most people, nobody’s looking at, or even looking for, that 140 characters a Tweeter wants the world to notice.

    • Drew Meyers

      “The opening line is more descriptive of email than Twitter.”

      With email, I have to send it to a specific person in order for them to consume it. With Twitter, anyone can find my tweet (if they are looking).

      • JohnNiles

        I agree with you.

        “If they are looking” is an important qualifier!

        If I want to reach somebody specific, email works better than Twitter for my contacts. People I know are more likely to be reading email that is addressed to them than looking for a Tweet. Same with me … I check email routinely; Twitter more sporadically.

        Others may have different communication routines.

        • Drew Meyers

          I don’t think the email / twitter is the right way to think about it. If you’re looking for entertainment, you are more likely to go to Twitter than your inbox.

          Think TV. You turn on the television, and see what is on. Why can’t individual people streaming from their phone be part of that? In order to ever get there, a Twitter for live streaming is likely the first step. It’ll probably be awhile in terms of individuals live streaming to television, but I think we’ll get there at some point.

          • JohnNiles

            Thanks for the conversation!

            I’ve no argument with what you say in the preceding comment. If I want to broadcast a video, Twitter would be better than email. Right now I use Twitter to publicize videos that I post on YouTube.

            As raised in your essay opening, my issue with Twitter is its characteristic of being a 24 hour stream of mixed and random commentary that does not necessarily make what is said visible unless Tweeted repeatedly to catch the attention of people who missed a Tweet the first time, the second time, the third time, and so on. Not unlike getting attention with advertising on broadcast TV or those ads accompanying web-streamed TV. You have to repeat, repeat, repeat…

            That’s what I’m seeing, anyway, from how I use the Internet. I also understand there are many ways to use the Internet that I don’t try or even know about.

  • Tim Reha

    Drew check out I have a buddy up in Canada that has a good handle on WebRTC apps. Very cool things are coming down the pipeline.

    • Drew Meyers

      Simple man, simple. Even if what they have built is super simple & works brilliantly, I get the impression it is super complex from the website.

      Main landing page…needs to be “Download this app and click one button to livestream”
      Nothing else matters to the end user.

      • Tim Reha – simpler interface for peer-to-peer calls.

        • Tim Reha

          There is now downloads for WebRTC it is built in the browser.

        • Drew Meyers

          That’s a video chat room technology it seems.

          Seems that is very different than live streaming to the world, and anyone that wants can tune in.

          • Tim Reha

            Yes that is one peer-to-peer connection demo of the WebRTC. A start. The spec will reach a billion nodes via Chrome, Firefox and other browsers that are implementing the technology. This may scale up with a combination of Bit Torrent Streaming . PubNub has some interesting realtime tools to use for peer connection and can provide presence and other “live” features. This is the closest thing on the track that your article takes for global peer based live streaming.

  • Drew Meyers

    Note: I spoke with founder of yesterday & it’s a site worth checking out for those interested in this opportunity.

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