Belfast Telegraph

History as it unfolds live on your desktop or telephone

By Paul Connolly

One of the joys of the modern 'newspaper' experience is the richness of content and the delivery platforms available. It's not always that immediacy and convenience go hand in hand, but increasingly it is the case.

Take for example earlier this week. I was able to watch Tony Blair's appearance before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster on the Belfast Telegraph website.

Even with my rubbish home broadband, the video streamed perfectly well and I was able to work away while keeping the corner of one eye on proceedings on the web page.

Alas, an unexpected interruption meant I had to leave the house, but I was able to return a few hours later and watch the remainder of the session without interruption.

By that time, of course, the video was not live-streamed, but it may as well have been in my life as I had leapt from work to personal and back to work seamlessly. Mr Blair, it appeared, had barely been interrupted in full flow.

All of which got me thinking as to the size of the Belfast Telegraph audience for the Blair appearance - I don't have figures; probably not massive, but not insignificant either. There is a growing appetite for live-streaming and the more popular the greater the audience potential.

There is something quite irresistible to being able to sit at your desk or on your phone and watch history in front of your eyes.

The Belfast Telegraph also live-streamed an English-language French TV station's coverage of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and certainly it was a brilliant and convenient way to dip in and out of the latest twist in turn of this particularly hideous drama.

Online video is increasingly the medium of the moment - and the future. Live-streaming is becoming more and more accessible and it won't be long before the most mundane of events are live-streamed as standard. With the establishment of 4G and the stirrings now of 5G, live-streaming will be come, well, mainstream.

There is something about the intimacy and immediacy of live-streamed video that makes it very attractive. History, almost, in your hand.

And there is already proof of audience demand: a Daily Telegraph live-stream of the door of St Mary's Hospital in July 2013, where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to Prince George, was accessed one-and-a-half million times on www.telegraph.co.uk while it was live.

Of course, live-streaming as a service has been around for years now, but it's important to note the great strides forward in quality and reliability mean it will swiftly move from near-niche to mainstream. From the preserve of micro-streamers or giant corporations and truly into the hands, and on to the screens, of everybody. It's one thing to amateur live-stream a small event using web cameras. Media companies need to think about proper audio, lighting and more. But the possibilities are endless.

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Belfast's crisp sandwich shop, Simply Crispy, appears to have been a storming success, turning a joke by satirical website Ulster Fry into reality with 35 different varieties of flavour, a torrent of coverage and reviving a million childhood memories.

If the huge reaction to the Belfast Telegraph's story and videos is any guide, its success is assured.

Make mine a ham on wholemeal... with Tayto cheese and onion, of course!

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