The surplus of livestreaming

IG live, Twitch and more. How are we watching face-to-face and does it crave our social desires?

By Rohan Kumar , written on June 30, 2020

From The video Desk

Live content isn’t new, but it was mostly designated to the Twitch viewers and the super fans. Now since everyone is stuck in their homes is livestreaming able to fulfill our social needs? With a 70% increase in IG live usage in the last month, it seems like digital live events have become integral to the new normal.

While we don’t know when to expect this quarantine to end, someone recently mentioned to me the fatigue associated with viewing all or even keeping track of all these livestreams, zoom chats, workshops and concerts. Initially when social distancing took effect livestreaming was everywhere and almost annoying, but now, more than a month in, creators and brands have found a more natural cadence and are testing unique ways of going live.

I found myself only attending digital meetups and watching live concerts this late in quarantine and still most of the time I prefer the recaps or edited form of the content uploaded after.

In the past few weeks I’ve seen so many collective digital concerts, invitations to webinars, creators and celebrities going live. But very few have honestly captured my attention.


For creators, livestreaming has been a source of community building and many have been pushing more creative ideas due to this limitation. Many creators are doing private events with Universities, David Dobrik’s did a private zoom Q&A at Lasell University, and Antoni Porowski did a Zoom Cookalong at UCLA.

Every time I open TikTok or Instagram some creator I watch is streaming live. But by far my favorite livestream and the only one that really grabbed my attention was Ryan Trahan’s Instagram Live Talent Show.

Ryan announced this on IG a few weeks back, asking contestants to submit a google form in his bio. From there, Ryan and the squad chose a bunch of contestants for a 3 round talent show that has been concisely edited and uploaded to his YouTube channel.

I tuned in for a few of the first-round contestants and there was over 6K people watching with me. I thought this was a beautiful execution of engaging with subscribers and creating new exciting content. It really felt personal and I loved every second of it. Especially watching the recap videos which were more faster-paced, I got to see the bigger picture.


Concerts have been severely affected by COVID and are pivoting digitally. Once a monthly ritual for my friends and I, it has been subdued to the screen.

I’ve attended 88Rising’s ASIA RISING FOREVER, tuning in for Hyukoh’s performance and Q&A. Afterward it was much easier to timeskip to the acts I wanted to hear. I’ve seen many artists go the ticketed live stream route - looking to raise money for their tour team or various charities. Travis Scott and Fortnite teamed up for the expansive Astronomical that shattered people’s expectations of what a digital experience could be like.

One of the cooler events I’ve attended in my corner of the web was Porter Robinsons’s SecretSky Fest. Each viewer plays a little dot in a digital concert venue. As a viewer, you can change your color, move around, jump with the spacebar, and create a room for just your friends. Developed by Active Theory one of my personal favorite agencies working at the forefront of digital connectivity.

Our Social Desire

As a complete extrovert, not seeing my friends in person has been challenging and I wouldn’t say livestreaming has curbed this. Very few livestreams have and the clear difference in the ones that have is how they make an effort to feel social. From connecting with your fans to participate in a talent show to physically showing the number of people in the room with pixels, the effort to make your voice felt in a room elevated this content for me. The focus on interactivity and explicit purpose make these livestreams more effective for me.

This is probably different if I’m tuning into my favorite creators Q&A but my attention span would rather just watch the recap.

Overall I hope to see more concerts and creators push the boundary of what a live interactive experience can look like. By crafting thoughtful and well-executed content viewers will stay engaged. It may not be better than standing in concert or attending a irl meet and greet, these are ways to cultivate online presence that helps us feel more together through this uncertain time.

It’s interesting that livestreaming doesn’t satisfy me, maybe it’s the expectations that digital content should be short and constantly engaging, maybe it’s our ever-shortening attention span from TikTok vids. Do we simply just tolerate the slow-pacing of live events or are the physical sensations enough to keep us more engaged?

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