Now Hear This: Facebook Debuts Live Audio

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but words are still worth something to Facebook.

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but words are still worth something to Facebook.

The social network Tuesday announced the introduction of Live Audio, a way for publishers to broadcast audio-only content live.

Product specialist Shirley Ip and software engineer Bhavana Radhakrishnan announced the new feature in a Facebook Media blog post, also pitching it as a way for publishers to go live in areas without strong network connectivity, as live audio obviously consumes far less bandwidth than live video.

Facebook will test Live Audio “over the next few weeks” with partners including BBC World Service, LBC, HarperCollins, Adam Grant and Britt Bennett, with plans to make the feature more widely available in early 2017.

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Ip and Radhakrishnan wrote:

We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video. We’ve even seen some pages find creative ways to go live and reach audiences with audio only by using the Facebook Live API (application-programming interface) or by adding a still image to accompany their audio broadcast. Our new Live Audio option makes it easy to go live with audio only when that’s the broadcaster’s preferred format.

From interviews to book readings, we’re excited about the layer of interactivity that Live Audio brings to both the broadcaster and listener. Just as with a live video on Facebook, listeners can discover live audio content in News Feed, ask questions and leave Reactions in real-time during the broadcast, and easily share with their friends.

We know that people often like to listen to audio while doing other things; people using Android devices will be able to continue listening to a Live Audio broadcast even if they leave the Facebook app or lock their phones, while iOS listeners will be able to continue listening as they browse other parts of Facebook.

Readers: What are your initial thoughts on Facebook Live Audio?