Periscope announced late last week it will start curating topic-themed channels on, of all places, its website. The idea is to highlight and surface interesting videos around those topics, which are pre-selected, to help people discover new voices and see what the Periscope community is talking about at the moment. Topics are assembled by hashtags, bigger news events (e.g. the NFL and so on) or breaking news events. These aren’t supposed to replace search but to provide a shallow end of the pool for someone who may not be totally familiar with Periscope but is intimidated by the apparent need to create as well as consume.
It’s an interesting update for a number of reasons. Most notably, to me, is that it’s based on the web. Topic curation is already available on the Periscope mobile app but doing the same thing on the web means it’s opened up to broader search and therefore audience. That’s a continued evolution of apps that used to be exclusive to mobile devices to the web to achieve some sort of permanence, even if the videos themselves are still ephemeral, disappearing after 24 hours.
The change also comes as Meerkat, the one-time main rival to Periscope, is completing a pivot and shutting down, with the team’s resources now devoted to a new app called HouseParty. The Meerkat app, which had long been inactive, was pulled from app stores and is no longer supported in any way.
Periscope continues to face significant challenges from Facebook Live and Snapchat among others for the live video market. There’s no way to know which will eventually win out, but based on Meerkat’s fate there may be a time of shaking out in this market coming out. Twitter, which owns Periscope, has video offerings of its own that don’t have the time restrictions so it’s not even clear which direction Twitter is betting will win.