Media

Twitch breaks records again in Q2, topping 5B total hours watched

Posted by | facebook gaming, Gaming, Media, mixer, Stream Hatchet, streamlabs, Twitch, youtube gaming | No Comments

Twitch had already broken viewership records in the first quarter of 2020 amid coronavirus lockdowns, surpassing 3 billion total hours watched in a single quarter for the first time. In the second quarter, it appears that Twitch has broken that record and several others once again.

According to a new report from Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet, Twitch saw a massive 62.7% increase in hours watched from Q1 2020 reach 5 billion hours watched in the second quarter.

This figure was also up by 83.1% year-over-year and helps to cement Twitch’s place as the leader among game-streaming services, with a 67.6% market share.

Twitch also broke records for hours streamed, unique channels and average concurrent viewership in Q2, the report found.

In terms of streaming, Twitch jumped 58.7% from 121.4 million hours in Q1 to 192.7 million in Q2. Unique channels increased from 63.9% quarter-over-quarter from 6.1 million in Q1 to nearly 10 million in Q2. And average concurrent viewership, meaning the number of viewers watching Twitch at the same time, grew 63.4% over last quarter to reach 2.4 million in Q2.

Image Credits: Streamlabs & Stream Hatchet

Of course, the headline news this quarter was Microsoft’s announcement about its plans to shut down its game-streaming service Mixer.

The service will wind down on July 22, and Microsoft has teamed up with Facebook to give users a new home. But that doesn’t guarantee Mixer users will make the switch — and Mixer’s exit may instead help propel Twitch to acquire even more market share than it does today.

Image Credits: Streamlabs & Stream Hatchet

Though Mixer is soon exiting, it had one of its best quarters to date in Q2, reaching 106 million hours watched, up 30.6% from Q1. It also grew its lineup to over 5 million channels. But in context of the broader market, Mixer wasn’t making a dent — it only managed to secure 1.4% market share by Q2, a figure that had actually fallen by over half a percentage point from the prior quarter.

Meanwhile, YouTube Gaming Live increased its hours watched 39.6% from Q1 to Q2 to reach 1.5 billion. To some extent, the growth stems from recent acquisitions of top talent, including Jack “CouRage” Dunlop and Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, as well as the continued success of CouRage, noted the report.

Image Credits: Streamlabs & Stream Hatchet

YouTube Gaming Live also saw a 19.1% increase in hours streamed in the quarter to reach 16.9 million and unique channels grew 22.7% in the quarter to 1.1 million.

It’s still too early to know if Facebook Gaming will end up benefiting from Mixer’s exit, as planned. But hours watched on the service grew 48.5% quarter-over-quarter to reach 822 million; hours streamed hit 6.1 million; and unique channels reached 203,554. However, Facebook still only has an 11% share of the market and that hasn’t changed since Q1, the report found.

Image Credits:

Though Twitch — and to a lesser extent, other game-streaming services — have clearly gained in usage as more consumers look for ways to be entertained at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Amazon-owned game-streaming site this year.

In recent days, Twitch streamers were hit with a deluge of new RIAA takedown notices that required creators to painstakingly dig through hundreds of hours of past footage to find the infringing content, as Twitch didn’t offer robust search tools or bulk deletion capabilities.

But more concerning is that Twitch has come under fire for its failures to properly protect its community members from abuse and harassment, predatory behavior from adult streamers toward children, and other issues. In June, over 70 people in the gaming industry came forward with allegations of gender-based discrimination, harassment and sexual assault. Twitch vowed to do better, but its failure to set the proper tone for its community in the early days may work against it.

To date, these problems haven’t dampened Twitch’s growth from a viewership or market share perspective, but they could handicap its potential as a revenue-generating business. Already, Twitch has been struggling to generate ad revenue, and its failures to detoxify its community could only make things worse.

Marketers today are growing increasingly concerned about having their messages positioned next to hate speech and other divisive and toxic content. Currently, an ongoing Facebook ad boycott has grown to now officially include over 400 advertisers and has pushed giants like Unilever, Coca-Cola and Pfizer to pause their ad spend on Facebook’s social network. These same advertisers won’t likely jump at the chance to market their products and services on a game-streaming site that can’t control sexual abuse, either.

The full Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet report is here.

Powered by WPeMatico

YouTube’s latest experiment is a TikTok rival focused on 15-second videos

Posted by | Media, Mobile, tiktok, Video, YouTube | No Comments

YouTube is taking direct aim at TikTok. The company announced on Wednesday it’s beginning to test a new feature on mobile that will allow users to record 15-second long multi-segment videos. That’s the same length as the default on TikTok as well as Instagram’s new TikTok clone, Reels.

Users in the new YouTube experiment will see an option to “create a video” in the mobile upload flow, the company says.

Similar to TikTok, the user can then tap and hold the record button to record their clip. They can then tap again or release the button to stop recording. This process is repeated until they’ve created 15 seconds worth of video footage. YouTube will combine the clips and upload it as one single video when the recording completes. In other words, just like TikTok.

The feature’s introduction also means users who want to record mobile video content longer than 15 seconds will no longer be able to do so within the YouTube app itself. Instead, they’ll have to record the longer video on their phone then upload it from their phone’s gallery in order to post it to YouTube.

YouTube didn’t provide other details on the test — like if it would later include more controls and features related to the short-form workflow, such as filters, effects, music, AR, or buttons to change the video speed, for example. These are the tools that make a TikTok video what it is today — not just the video’s length or its multi-segment recording style.

Still it’s worth noting that YouTube has in its sights the short-form video format popularized by TikTok.

This would not be the first time YouTube countered a rival by mimicking their feature set with one of its own.

The company in 2017 launched an alternative to Instagram Stories, designed for the creation and sharing of more casual videos. But YouTube Stories wouldn’t serve the TikTok audience, as TikTok isn’t as much about personal vlogs as it is about choreographed and rehearsed content. That demands a different workflow and toolset.

YouTube confirmed the videos in this experiment are not being uploaded as Stories, but didn’t offer details on how the 15-second videos would be discoverable on the YouTube app.

The news of YouTube’s latest experiment arrived just ahead of TikTok’s big pitch to advertisers at this week’s IAB NewFronts. TikTok today launched TikTok For Business, its new platform aimed at brands and marketers looking to do business on TikTok’s app. From the new site, advertisers can learn about TikTok’s ad offerings, create and track campaigns, and engage in e-learning.

YouTube says its new video test is running with a small group of creators across both iOS and Android. A company spokesperson noted it was one of several tests the company had in the works around short-form video.

“We’re always experimenting with ways to help people more easily find, watch, share and interact with the videos that matter most to them. We are testing a few different tools for users to discover and create short videos,” a YouTube spokesperson said. “This is one of many experiments we run all the time on YouTube, and we’ll consider rolling features out more broadly based on feedback on these experiments,” they added.

Powered by WPeMatico

What went wrong with Quibi?

Posted by | Entertainment, Media, Mobile, TC, Video | No Comments

Two months after Quibi’s high-profile launch as a short-form mobile-native TV app led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, it is evident the startup is greatly underperforming relative to the hundreds of millions of dollars already spent on content and marketing. 

According to a Wall Street Journal report, “daily downloads peaked at 379,000 on its April 6 launch day but didn’t exceed 20,000 on any day in the first week of June, according to Sensor Tower.” The article says Quibi is on pace for just 2 million subscribers by year-end, from its predicted 7.2 million. Most of the current subscriber base is on free trials, so even just maintaining the current pace of subscriber growth for several more months will be challenging. Quibi hasn’t released any of its own stats on subscribers, which it almost certainly would do to combat the negative perception among investors and press, if the stats showed a lot of traction.

I argued in 2018 that Facebook should turn its IGTV into a Quibi competitor, and I continue to believe there’s untapped opportunity for premium, mobile-native storytelling apps. So what went wrong with Quibi? There appear to have been four key mistakes:

  1. Miscalculating the risk of launching during the COVID-19 lockdown.
  2. Failing to see the central role of interactivity in mobile-native entertainment.
  3. Creating misaligned financial incentives with the wrong content partners.
  4. Launching Quibi like a movie instead of like a startup.

Powered by WPeMatico

Fandango adds new features to highlight health precautions and distancing in movie theaters

Posted by | Apps, coronavirus, COVID-19, Fandango, Health, Media, Mobile, movie theaters | No Comments

As movie theaters reopen across the United States and the world, there are lingering questions about what kinds of measures those theaters will be taking to keep staff and moviegoers safe in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

These concerns were illustrated last week, when AMC CEO Adam Aron said in an interview that the theater chain would not be requiring that patrons wear masks except in locations where they’re legally required to do so — because the company “did not want to be drawn into a political controversy.” Naturally, those comments prompted a controversy of their own, leading AMC to reverse its decision.

So it makes sense for NBCUniversal-owned movie ticketing app Fandango to highlight the different safety measures that theaters are taking.

It’s useful from an informational perspective, so that moviegoers understand and prepare for the experience in theaters, and perhaps choose theaters based on how serious they seem about safety. But it’s also a savvy marketing move, as those theaters will need to convince moviegoers that it’s safe to return.

Fandango social distance seating

Image Credits: Fandango

The new features include what Fandango is pitching as a “one-stop shop” to view the safety measures announced by more than 100 theater chains, with information about auditorium occupancy, social distance seating, mask/protective equipment policies, enhanced cleaning measures and special concession arrangements. There will also be instructional videos, social distance seating maps and a way to search for reopened theaters by location.

Because movie theaters have been closed for the past few months, Fandango also says it will be extending for another 60 days expired rewards from its Fandango VIP+ loyalty programs.

“We are working closely with our friends in exhibition to help get their ticketing back online and film fans back in seats with peace of mind,” said Melissa Heller, Fandango’s vice president of domestic ticketing, in a statement. “In addition to our new product features, Fandango’s mobile ticketing will be an added benefit, helping moviegoers and cinema employees reduce the number of contact points at the box office and throughout the theater.”

Update: In response to my question about whether moviegoers should feel safe going back to theaters, the company sent me the following statement from Fandango managing editor Erik Davis:

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like watching a movie on the big screen, and some movies like ‘Tenet’ and ‘Mulan’ beg to be seen on the biggest screen available, so there’s definitely a demand. Moviegoing decisions are personal: which movie, which format, which theater are you going to see it in. And now with health & safety protocols different for each state, county or theater chain, it’s useful to know what the theaters are offering before you go. Fandango is gathering all the info in one place to help fans return to the movies with peace of mind, and at the right time that is best for them.

Powered by WPeMatico

Spotify tests in-app offers, an interactive ad format for podcasts

Posted by | ad tech, Ads, advertising, Apps, Media, Mobile, Podcasts, Spotify | No Comments

Spotify is testing a new, more interactive ad format designed for podcasts: the in-app offer. Instead of prompting listeners to remember a coupon code or visit a specific website address, the in-app offer allows users to redeem an offer at a time that’s convenient for them. This is done by way of a visual reminder within the Spotify app, which displays the sponsors on the podcast episode’s page.

Below the podcast and description, a new section titled “Episode Sponsors” will appear, allowing listeners to then click through on the offer to redeem the coupon or other special deal. This will open the user’s browser to the advertiser’s landing page for immediate redemption, says Spotify.

“The average podcast listener has heard a countless number of ads ending with promo codes or show-specific websites, carefully repeated three times so as not to forget it. In-App Offers makes it vastly simpler for listeners to redeem deals whenever they come back to the app, and we can all benefit from one fewer ‘w-w-w-dot’ spelling lesson from our favorite podcast creators,” says Joel Withrow, senior product manager of Podcast Monetization at Spotify, in a statement.

The product is designed to better fit with the way users actually listen to podcasts — usually, while they’re doing something else, like cooking, cleaning, working out or driving for example. That means they often have to make a mental note of the offers they hear and want to research later. But this can be challenging.

The new product is in early alpha testing in the U.S. with Harry’s in Last Podcast on the Left and in Germany with HelloFresh in Herrengedeck. There isn’t yet a way to sign up to participate.

Image Credits: Spotify

The new feature builds on Spotify’s existing Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) technology, introduced at the beginning of 2020 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. SAI technology makes key data — like ad impressions, frequency, reach, plus anonymized age, gender and device type — available to podcasters and advertisers on Spotify for the first time. This sort of data was more difficult if not impossible, to collect via podcasts that were served only as downloads from RSS feeds.

The company explained at the time of launch the problem it aimed to solve was on the advertiser’s side — they didn’t know whether or not the ad they purchase is being consumed by the user.

SAI will be widely available to advertisers in the U.S. starting this summer, and is now available to select advertisers in Germany.

The addition of in-app offers to Spotify’s suite comes following a continued heavy investment in podcasts, podcast tools and podcasting ad technology on the company’s part. The company recently announced an exclusive audio partnership with DC & Warner Bros. and the launch of podcast playlists, for example. Spotify also just landed a podcast deal with Kim Kardashian West, focused on criminal justice, and brought top podcast The Joe Rogan Experience to its platform exclusively.

Meanwhile, Spotify says it’s seeing triple-digit growth in podcast consumption, year-over-year, on its platform, while podcasts, more broadly, are reaching 1 in 3 or 100 million Americans every month.

Spotify didn’t say when the new in-app offers ad experience would be publicly available.

Powered by WPeMatico

How Reliance Jio Platforms became India’s biggest telecom network

Posted by | Apple, Apps, Asia, bharti airtel, Extra Crunch, Facebook, india, Mark Zuckerberg, Market Analysis, Media, Microsoft, Mobile, Mukesh Ambani, payments, reliance industries, telecom, Venture Capital, vodafone, Vodafone Idea, Xiaomi | No Comments

It’s raised $5.7 billion from Facebook. It’s taken $1.5 billion from KKR, another $1.5 billion from Vista Equity Partners, $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund$1.35 billion from Silver Lake, $1.2 billion from Mubadala, $870 million from General Atlantic, $750 million from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, $600 million from TPG, and $250 million from L Catterton.

And it’s done all that in just nine weeks.

India’s Reliance Jio Platforms is the world’s most ambitious tech company. Founder Mukesh Ambani has made it his dream to provide every Indian with access to affordable and comprehensive telecommunications services, and Jio has so far proven successful, attracting nearly 400 million subscribers in just a few years.

The unparalleled growth of Reliance Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of India’s most-valued firm (Reliance Industries), has shocked rivals and spooked foreign tech companies such as Google and Amazon, both of which are now reportedly eyeing a slice of one of the world’s largest telecom markets.

What can we learn from Reliance Jio Platforms’s growth? What does the future hold for Jio and for India’s tech startup ecosystem in general?

Through a series of reports, Extra Crunch is going to investigate those questions. We previously profiled Mukesh Ambani himself, and in today’s installment, we are going to look at how Reliance Jio went from a telco upstart to the dominant tech company in four years.

The birth of a new empire

Months after India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, launched his telecom network Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal of Airtel — his chief rival — was struggling in public to contain his frustration.

That Ambani would try to win over subscribers by offering them free voice calling wasn’t a surprise, Mittal said at the World Economic Forum in January 2017. But making voice calls and the bulk of 4G mobile data completely free for seven months clearly “meant that they have not gotten the attention they wanted,” he said, hopeful the local regulator would soon intervene.

This wasn’t the first time Ambani and Mittal were competing directly against each other: in 2002, Ambani had launched a telecommunications company and sought to win the market by distributing free handsets.

In India, carrier lock-in is not popular as people prefer pay-as-you-go voice and data plans. But luckily for Mittal in their first go around, Ambani’s journey was cut short due to a family feud with his brother — read more about that here.

Powered by WPeMatico

Why the Olympics should add esports

Posted by | astralis, baseball, Column, coronavirus, COVID-19, esports, Gaming, Goldman Sachs, international olympic committee, league of legends, Media, mlb, Olympic Games, olympics, Opinion, Sports, United States, video gaming | No Comments
Brandon Byrne
Contributor

Brandon Byrne is the CEO and co-founder of Opera Event, a technology platform that connects content creators, teams and sponsors to one another programmatically and at scale. He was previously the CFO of Team Liquid and VP of Finance and Administration at Curse.

I recently sat on a panel for gaming website Pocket Gamer that was focused on esports and the Olympics. We were debating whether esports were filling the gap in sporting events, including the Olympic games, which have been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was an interesting conversation that started out like most esports panels. The only difference here is that instead of the typical question, “When will esports catch up to traditional sports?” it was, “Will esports become mainstream enough to make it into the Olympics?” A slightly different question, but the same sentiment: The international games are one of televised sports’ marquee events, and esports companies hope to earn a seat at the grown-up’s table.

In truth, the Olympics have been dropping in ratings relatively steadily in the U.S. for a long time. The only Olympic games that scored in the top five ratings going back to 1992 were the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, presumably because they were held in the United States. Overall, viewership has been declining in recent years and the games don’t hold the prestige they once did.

Additionally, audiences are slowly becoming worth less and less to advertisers because the age of the average viewer is rising rapidly, a trend we are seeing in almost all traditional sports.

I doubt it would surprise anyone to learn that the average age of almost all traditional sports viewership skews older than esports’ audience. Even then, I think the actual data will be quite surprising. Only one professional sport (women’s tennis) actually saw its average viewers age come down in the last decade or so. Even in that context, the average age of a Women’s Tennis Association home spectator is 55 years old.

The average age of esports viewership looks to be around 26 years old. Think about that from a marketer’s perspective. Traditional sports are just missing young people, by a wide margin.

Where are the kids?

But there are more factors at play than just a lack of interest from millennials and Gen Z driving this trend: There’s also a question of access.

The IOC made the decision in recent years to stream the Olympics (the way most younger people consume content), but it capped the ability to watch online to 30 minutes if viewers didn’t sign in with their cable company (a relationship many millennials don’t have) to continue watching.

Additionally, the IOC made the laughable decision to “ban” GIFs with the press covering the event, which qualifies as one of the more stupid things a governing body has ever tried to do. First, it won’t work. Secondly, and more to the point, it demonstrates how out of touch the IOC is with the ways in which media has evolved in the last 20 years.

However, unlike the Olympics, where no corporation owns the rights to volleyball or the pole vault, all esports companies own the IP associated with the game itself. That means, by default, the IOC would not have carte blanche when making decisions about how to represent the games, programming, licensing rights and other factors it has enjoyed for a long time.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the IOC doesn’t like the idea of “violent” games being added to the Olympic roster. It would prefer to see current sports transformed into virtual competitions. But anyone who knows anything about esports understands that this isn’t how esports works. Before a game ascends to esports royalty, it needs to be a good game. If nobody plays it, it’s unlikely anyone will want to watch it.

Secondly, it has be digestible as a viewing experience. World of Warcraft Arena is a game that draws a lot of players, but it’s almost impossible to know what is going on unless you’re an expert at the game or you have a godly shoutcaster who can translate the on-screen action. You can’t make track and field an esport and hope audiences will want to watch.

The IOC Solution

The IOC has taken steps to try and stave off declining youth viewership trends by adopting sports considered “young” in the past few years. Five sports recently added to the Olympic games include:

  • Sport climbing
  • Surfing
  • Skateboarding
  • Karate
  • Baseball/softball

The baseball/softball addition notwithstanding, I think you would have to live under a rock if you thought that competitive sport climbing held a candle to Fortnite or League of Legends in terms of generating youth interest. Frankly, this seems like an idea that came from an old person trying to find a way to “get the kids back.”


To the IOC’s credit, it has begun to hold panels and conferences with esports experts and game publishers, but the deals that will come from these will look REALLY different than what they are used to. It seems to me that we have a long way to go here.

For my part of the panel, I argued that the Olympics need esports much more than esports need the Olympics. Media companies are only going to overpay for broadcasting rights for traditional sports for so long. At some point, someone is going to notice that the “inside the demo” group isn’t there and move on.

The thing that esports CAN get from the Olympics is understanding a better way to monetize its audience, something that the Olympics do well and esports doesn’t do well right now. A report from Goldman Sachs shows the audience size and monetization based on that audience, showing that esports dramatically underindex on monetization relative to their more established sports league equivalents. It is clear that esports is immature from a monetization perspective and, while the Olympics aren’t on this chart, I would assume that it punches WAY above its weight, much like MLB does, trading on its reputation more than on actual results these days.

The IOC should act fast, though. It won’t be long until esports figures this whole thing out and once they do, the Olympic games won’t have anything to offer this emerging media powerhouse.

Powered by WPeMatico

Flipboard rolls out Storyboards as a new way to highlight content

Posted by | apple news, Apps, ceo, film, Film Production, flipboard, george floyd, Media, Mike McCue, Mobile, National-Geographic, San Francisco, Social, Startups, Storyboard, TechCrunch | No Comments

Flipboard is giving news publishers and other curators on the platform a new way to highlight content through a format called Storyboards.

Until now, Flipboard has largely focused on its Smart Magazines, which are ongoing collections that mix human and algorithmic curation, allowing readers to dive deeply into and keep up-to-date on a given topic.

Storyboards, on the other hand, are more of a one-time collection of articles, videos, podcasts, tweets and other media. Content-wise, they may not be that different from an “everything you need to know about X” roundup article, but they give publishers an easy and visually stylish way to put those roundups together.

Publishers have already been beta testing it. For example, TheGrio created a Storyboard collecting the latest coverage of George Floyd’s death and the resulting protests, while National Geographic curated a package of new and old stories commemorating the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens. And TechCrunch tried it out by doing daily roundups of coverage coming out of last year’s Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

Flipboard Storyboards

Image Credits: Flipboard

Flipboard CEO Mike McCue told me this is something curators have been asking for, as a way to “structure their curation better and be able to do better storytelling.”

He also said that Storyboards could be a great way to highlight different products and make money with affiliate links, especially since “curated commerce is something that will probably play more and more of a significant role in our revenue.”

Vice President of Engineering Troy Brant gave me a quick tour of the product, showing me how a curator can create different sections in a Storyboard, tweak the look of those sections and populate them with different kinds of content.

These new Storyboards can be discovered in Flipboard based on the topics with which the curator tags them. They’re also shareable and embeddable via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and email.

Flipboard Curator Pro

Image Credits: Flipboard

Brant noted that Storyboards are “complementary” with Flipboard magazines, as magazines can include Storyboards and Storyboards can include magazines. He also said the company is developing “more product capabilities” to highlight the best curation, whether that takes the form of a Storyboard or magazine: “That’s actually a work in progress at the moment.”

And Storyboards come with detailed analytics about how many people are viewing them, liking them, commenting on them, flipping them and more.

All of this is part of a new tool in Flipboard called Curator Pro, which is now available to all verified users in English-speaking countries, with plans for a more global rollout soon. Brant added that Storyboards are just the “first step” for Curator Pro, with more magazine curation tools and analytics on the way as well.

Powered by WPeMatico

How COVID-19 transformed the way Americans spend online

Posted by | Column, coronavirus, COVID-19, e-commerce, eCommerce, Extra Crunch, Gaming, growth marketing, Market Analysis, Media, mobile web, online shopping, payments, retail, shopping, Social, social commerce, Startups, TC | No Comments
Ethan Smith
Contributor

Ethan Smith is founder and CEO of Graphite, an SEO and growth marketing agency based in San Francisco. Ethan has served as a strategic advisor to Ticketmaster, MasterClass, Thumbtack and Honey.

COVID-19 has transformed the way Americans use their phones and the way they spend their time and money online. These shifts present both a number of challenges and a raft of opportunities for savvy growth marketers.

We’ve seen COVID-19 affect a number of verticals. A number of industries have taken a hit (like music streaming and sports), while some are expanding due to the pandemic (groceries, media, video gaming). Others have found distinctive ways to adjust the way they position and sell their product, allowing them to take advantage of changes in buyer behavior.

The key to being able to read and react to changes in this still-tumultuous time and tailoring your growth marketing accordingly is to understand how public sentiment is reflected in new purchasing behaviors. Here’s an overview of the most important trends we’re seeing that will allow you to adjust your growth marketing effectively.

By the numbers: A sheltering-in-place economy

Virtually all of the data we’ve seen shows a marked difference in buyer behavior following the WHO’s declaration of a pandemic on March 11, 2020. With consumers encouraged to stay home to deter the spread of COVID-19, it’s no surprise that the biggest change is the spike in online activity.

Powered by WPeMatico

How to set up your nice camera as a high-quality webcam in 5 minutes

Posted by | Apps, cameras, Canon, DSLR, dSLRs, Fujifilm, Gadgets, hardware, Media, mirrorless, Nikon, olympus, Panasonic, Photography, Sony, streaming, TC, webcams | No Comments

Everyone needs a webcam these days, whether for business meetings or the distant socializing accomplished via video calling — but if you’re like most, you’re using the built-in camera on your laptop or some piece of junk from years ago. But if you happen to have a nice big-brand camera, it’s possible to set it up as a standalone webcam and produce imagery that will be the envy of your friends and colleagues, with nothing more than a bit of software.

Our guide to setting up a professional-looking home webcam solution with lighting, audio and all the other fixins is here, but getting your DSLR or mirrorless camera hooked up to your computer isn’t as simple as it ought to be.

Now, you could spend $100 or so to get a capture card or dongle that converts your camera’s signal to HDMI, and be done with it. But if you want to be up and running a few minutes from now, here are the software-only solutions for your camera and OS — if any.

Surprisingly, you can’t just take a camera released in the last couple years and plug it into your computer and expect it to work. So far only Canon, Fujifilm and Panasonic provide free webcam functionality to at least one desktop OS. For Nikon, Sony and Olympus, you may have to pay or put up with a watermark.

Here are the easiest ways to put each brand of camera to work. (Spoiler warning: For Macs, it’s mostly Cascable. I’ll mention that a few more times because people are probably just scrolling past this to their brand.)

Canon: EOS Webcam Utility

Canon released this software just a couple weeks ago and it’s still in beta, so there may be a few hiccups — but it supports both Windows and Apple machines and a good variety of camera bodies. There’s even some extra documentation and tutorials for the app at its microsite.

Compatibility is pretty good, working with any of their camera bodies from the last 3-4 years: the Rebel T6-T7i, T100, SL2, SL3, 5D Mk IV, 5DS, 5DS R, 6D Mk II, 7D Mk II, 77D, 80D, 90D, 1D X Mark II and Mark III, M6 Mk II, M50, M200, R, RP, PowerShot G5X Mk II, G7X Mk III and SX70 HS. Download the software here.

If you’re having trouble, check out the third-party apps listed for other brands below and see if you have more luck.

Fujifilm: X Webcam

Fujifilm’s solution is easy, but a bit limited. The popular X100 series is not supported, and Macs are left out in the cold as well. But if you have one of the company’s more recent interchangeable-lens bodies and a Windows 10 machine, you’re golden. Just install and plug in your camera with a normal USB cable.

Compatibility includes the X-T2, X-T3, X-T4, X-Pro2, X-Pro3, X-H1, GFX100, GFX 50R and GFX 50S. Get that medium format setup going right and your eyes will be in focus but not your ears. Download the software here.

This guy really did Mac users a favor.

For Macs, Cascable is a useful bit of Mac software that acts as a bridge to your camera for a variety of purposes, and the author just added webcam capability. It has wide compatibility for both wired and wireless connections, and provides broader functionality than Fuji’s own software, but it isn’t free. But the current $30 price is probably less than you’d pay if you opted for a nice webcam instead.

If you’re confident fiddling around in command lines, this tutorial tells you how to get a Fuji camera working on Macs with a bit of fiddling around and some other third-party software.

Panasonic: Lumix Tether

That’s it. That’s the image they provided.

Panasonic just made the webcam-capable version of their Lumix Tether Windows app available, and you can tell from the paucity of the documentation that it’s a pretty bare-bones solution. The price is right, though. It works with the GH5, G9, GH5S, S1, S1R and S1H. The company also posted a helpful start-to-finish tutorial on how to get going with streaming software like OBS here:

Cascable works well with a variety of Panasonic cameras, far more than the official app, even some superzooms that could be really fun to play with in this context.

Sony

There’s no official software to turn your Sony cameras into webcams, so if you want a one-stop solution you have to jump straight into third-party options. On Windows, there is a sort of workaround that uses Sony Remote to tether the image and then hijack it into streaming software; this video explains it well. It’s not ideal, but it’s something.

Cascable on Mac is again your best bet there, with support reaching back several generations to cameras like the NEX series and RX100 III. Ecamm Live also has limited Sony compatibility, but only supports the latest bodies. It’s $12 per month, but there’s a free trial if you want to give it a go first.

Olympus

It’s the same story for Olympus on Windows. There’s no official support, but you may be able to use tethering software to collect the live view image and forward that to the streaming software.

On Mac, Cascable has wired support for many more Oly bodies, including Stylus cameras and the retro-style PEN F, which will probably resent being used for such a modern purpose. Ecamm Live has compatibility with the latest bodies — the E-M1 II, III and X, and the E-M5 original and Mk II. No go on the PEN series, unfortunately.

Nikon

Surprisingly, while Nikon recently put up a rather helpful page on streaming using its cameras, it doesn’t produce any of the software itself, referring the reader to a variety of third-party programs.

As before, Cascable seems like the easiest way to get your Nikon working with a Mac, and SparkoCam is a frequent recommendation for Windows.

Warnings to the webcam-curious

These methods may be easy, but they’re not completely without issues.

One potential problem is heat. These cameras were designed primarily for capturing stills and short video clips. Running full time for extended periods can result in the camera getting too hot to function and shutting down. A camera shouldn’t damage itself seriously, but it’s something to be aware of. The best way to avoid this is using a dummy battery with a power adapter — these are pretty easy to find, and will mitigate overheating.

Audio also may not be as nice as the image. For people doing serious video work, an external mic is almost always used, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t do the same. Considering a solid mic can be had for under $50 and should provide a substantial upgrade to your device’s built-in one, there’s no reason not to take the plunge.

You may also want to check a few forums for the best settings to use for the camera, from making sure it doesn’t turn off after a few minutes to exposure choices. For instance, since you’re not doing stills, you don’t need to worry about sharpness, so you can shoot wide open. But then you’ll need to make sure autofocus is working quickly and accurately, or you’ll end up lost in the bokeh. Check around, try a few different setups, and go with what works best in your situation.

And when you’re ready to take the next step, consult our more thorough guide to setting the scene.

Powered by WPeMatico