YouTube Takes On Facebook With 360-Degree Livestreaming for Brands and Creators

T-Mobile sponsors the first stream

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The battle for live video is heating up, and YouTube doesn't want to be left behind. On Monday, the Google-owned platform unveiled a feature that lets creators and marketers livestream their 360-degree clips.

YouTube first launched support for 360-degree videos a year ago, and brands like GoPro, Gatorade, Nike and Lionsgate have experimented with it. Lionsgate, for instance, put together a 360-degree video for its 2015 film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2. (See a GIF representation of that video above.)

Today's development is clearly a move to catch up with Facebook, which made a slew of video announcements, including its own 360-degree camera and a hub of live content, during its F8 developer conference last week.

For one of its first big tests with 360-degree livestreaming, YouTube will stream a handful of performances during Coachella from April 22 to April 24 with T-Mobile is sponsoring the stream. Google has livestreamed the music festival since 2011.

While not new, platform-based livestreaming has caught on particularly well with publishers in recent weeks. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed got 800,000 people at once to watch two staffers via Facebook Live explode a watermelon by wrapping rubber bands around it.

YouTube will also equip its YouTube Space locations with 360-degree and spatial technology for creators to work into their clips. And Google is adding the features to popular video production software from companies like Two Big Ears and VideoStitch.

"What excites me most about 360-degree storytelling is that it lets us open up the world's experience to everyone," said YouTube's chief product officer Neal Mohan in a blog post. "Students can now experience news events in the classroom as they unfold. Travelers can experience faraway sites and explorers can deep-sea dive, all without the physical constraints of the real world."

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.