Periscope vs Facebook Live: a comparison

As Periscope or Facebook Live become more dominant in live streaming, it’s sometimes hard to know which to use.  Tap into your Twitter audience with Periscope, or just broadcast to your Facebook audience?

During two recent events in Bradford we used both Periscope and Facebook Live at the same time. This helped us reach different audiences, and was a good opportunity to directly compare the two platforms. Here’s what happened and what I have concluded from the experiments.

The Queen’s 90th birthday celebration event in Bradford


Duration: 15:20

Live viewers: 183

Replay viewers: 106

Offensive comments: 4

Facebook Live

Duration: 33:00

Total views: 2,600

Reach: 6,046

Maximum concurrent viewers: 12*

Vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting


Duration: 48:50

Live viewers: 641

Replay viewers: 233

Offensive comments: 12

Facebook Live

Duration: 48:00

Total views: 2,100

Reach: 15,400

Maximum concurrent viewers: 15*



With my two experiments I found that Periscope (linked with Twitter) was particularly good at reaching an audience specfic for an event, sometimes people in different parts of the world who had no prior relationship with our accounts.  Whereas Facebook Live is good at reaching a large number of people in an existing audience and their friends.

I say that because on the Periscope broadcast for the Orlando vigil we were getting comments from people in the USA, even people actually in Orlando, and not long after the broadcast started. I’m not sure whether it was Periscope or Twitter that helped us reach that audience, but I feel using the hashtag #loveislove helped quickly draw this new audience in.

The actual numbers reached were far more on Facebook Live than on Periscope. We’re talking thousands rather than hundreds, despite having more Twitter followers than Facebook page likes. That might be because Facebook’s algorithm keeps churning away even after the broadcast has stopped, showing the video to more people, whereas with Periscope and Twitter the majority of the views are actually live.

* I don’t think Facebook Live’s stats were working properly for me during our broadcasts. It never said there were any more than 15 people watching at once, and no live comments or likes were showing on my phone. That led me to think nobody was watching.  But then as soon as I stopped the broadcast I saw that it had actually been seen by hundreds of people, with dozens of likes and comments. I’m assuming that was a bug, and once that is sorted out it will be handy to see live metrics and engagement.

Abusive comments

Periscope needs to do more about people who leave abusive comments. Within seconds of each Periscope broadcast starting we started receiving offensive comments.  Yes, I could quickly tap to block the users, but by that time their comment has already been seen by other viewers. It’s certainly better than it used to be, and I’m pleased to see they are starting to do more:

Video quality and orientation

The quality of Facebook Live video seemed better than Periscope on our recent broadcasts. And watching back later, the quality on Facebook certainly seems better.

Also, the fact that Facebook Live is square neatly sidesteps the delicate issue of whether to shoot video in landscape or portrait.


It’s good that Periscope videos are now permanent by default, so the archive of live broadcasts can be replayed more. But, as I said above, Facebook’s algorithm does a better job at encouraging people to watch again. Plus, you can create a playlist to archive all Facebook Live broadcasts on the videos tab of a Facebook page.

What the future might hold

Live streaming is certainly going to become more widespread. It has already come on a long way over the past year since I first wrote about the rise of Periscope and Meerkat. I’m sure both Periscope and Facebook Live will continue to add features to improve the services.

What Periscope and Facebook Live could both do better is help build awareness ahead of a broadcast. It would be good if there was a way for followers to subscribe to an alert that reminds them shortly before a planned broadcast is about to start. Similarly, a waiting room would be useful to get over the awkward first few moments of a live stream.

Facebook seems to be innovating with Facebook Live more than Twitter is with Periscope at the moment.

Facebook Live now shows which were the most popular parts of a broadcast that has finished, but this is only currently available for some broadcasts.

Facebook Live has also been opened up so that any device (not just a phone) can be used to film a live stream.

There were extraordinay scenes in the US Congress this week when Democrats held a sit-in over gun control. Republicans switched off the TV cameras, so the Democrats got their phones out to use Periscope and Facebook Live. That feels like a significant moment for live streaming. Whether you agree with them doing that or not, it’s certainly got more people thinking about live streaming.

EDIT: Between me starting to write this post and finishing it, Facebook has announced three new features: two person broadcasts, pre-scheduled broadcasts and a waiting room.

So, what next? I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know if you have any thoughts in the comments below.



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I am a digital communications and marketing officer for Bradford Council and a musician.

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