As part of our Oculus Connect 5 coverage this week, we sent Dean Takahashi to the event in San Jose, California while the broader VentureBeat team supported him remotely by watching the livestream. Unfortunately, just like last year, Oculus chose Facebook Live.
And just like last year, it was a poor experience. The day one livestream only peaked at some 10,000 viewers while the day two livestream saw about 1,000. That was enough to bring the service to its knees.
The first day was tough — more of us had issues with the livestream than during any other event we’ve covered in my four years at VentureBeat. Sometimes the video would cut in and out every few seconds. Sometimes it would just die completely. And the outages were hitting people at the same time — this wasn’t a question of poor internet connections.
I was toying with writing about this after the first day, especially after getting multiple “This live video has ended” messages that required me to manually refresh the page over and over. The Carmack stream, the one with fewer people watching, cemented my frustration. I lost count of the number of times the livestream stuttered. And then, not only did the dreaded “This live video has ended” message hit, but refreshing didn’t work either.
If you wanted to keep watching, you had to somehow realize that this link was dead and this link was now live. My colleague Jeremy Horwitz figured this out by going back to the Oculus Facebook Page and sharing the new link with the team.
This new stream was better — it certainly cut out a lot less, although that’s not saying much. But the overall experience made me wonder how Facebook still hasn’t mastered livestreaming. Three years ago, Facebook went down three times in a single month. That type of thing simply doesn’t happen anymore, so I was honestly surprised livestreaming reliably is still an issue.
It’s really the perfect first world problem: Being unable to watch technical talk of frames per second because not enough frames are coming in per second.
If Facebook didn’t own Oculus, I’m pretty sure the team would have just gone with YouTube, or even Twitch. No major tech company uses Facebook Live to livestream their events.
Facebook is betting big on AR/VR. And I’m certain that the company can solve livestreaming reliability issues before it succeeds in building mass-adopted virtual reality products. It’s just unfortunate that in 2018, the lack of progress for the former took away from the presentation of the potential progress of the latter.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.