Facebook Introduces Live Audio to Limited Publishers

The focus on capturing “as they happen” moments continues at the Facebook empire: just after Instagram received the Live Video treatment, and 360 videos went live last week, Facebook Live Audio has been introduced to select publishers.

Essentially a radio service within Facebook, Live Audio will enable publishers to share live content to fans’ News Feeds, which gives them the ability to comment and leave Reactions in real-time. As an aside, the company noted that this will also give those with poor connectivity the chance to share with fans—an option that wasn’t always available with Live Video.

Facebook acknowledged in their blog post introducing Live Audio that publishers have already found work-arounds to broadcast audio-only on the social network, including adding still images to broadcasts or pointing their phones at inanimate objects. Obviously, this method isn’t ideal (and doesn’t create a great user-experience for either party).

Facebook Live Audio also presents some interesting opportunities for producers of podcasts, as Re/code noted on Tuesday. Podcasting is a growing medium (particularly following the success of NPR’s Serial), but from a distribution side, Apple has long cornered the market. Facebook certainly has the user base to change this—and potential algorithmic News Feed changes in the future could help bring more virality to podcasts.

That, of course, depends on the results of this initial trial—which is being limited to publishers such as BBC World Service, Harper Collins, LBC, and a few authors to start. Live Audio will be available to a larger group of publishers “early next year”.

Facebook Live Audio will be available for both iOS and Android devices upon launch. With Android, users can continue to listen to audio broadcasts even when they leave the Facebook app and/or lock their phones. iOS has more strict limitations—users will have to remain in the Facebook app to listen to Live Audio, but can browse other parts of the network at the same time.

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