Back in 2015, an app called Periscope came to the App Store. This new, ‘revolutionary’ live streaming app enabled you to watch users around the world stream in real time and admittedly, I was hooked.
I remember some of the first few scopes I watched. I rode on a subway in New York, sat on the beach in Australia and ventured up to a newsagents in Scotland, all without leaving the comfort of my home.
I used to broadcast daily, trolled by many, but as time went on, viewers would return to watch me babble on about something, or get a glimpse into my life. I tried to broadcast the ‘cool’ stuff, like a behind the scenes tour of the radio stations I worked at, mixed in with some sit down, ask me questions kind of broadcasts, in a feature I called at the time, #AskPinnell.
It’s where I met new friends, some of which I’ve met in actual real life and have remained friends since (I mean, only I can meet up with someone from Periscope and his family, and spit on his shoes with laughter, Hi Adam Yaffe!).
But then, I lost touch with the ‘scope. Trolls were abundant in my broadcasts and I didn’t feel compelled to broadcast or watch what others were doing. The content on the app, I felt, became stale. Those working behind the scenes in the app would feature strange broadcasts on the home screen and not take notice of the trolls. I remember doing a scope and being told to ‘kill myself because you’re ugly and have a big forehead’ several times. Now, I’m strong enough to not take notice of these kinds of comments, but I fear for those who do.
I actually went and found the user profile of that scoper, wh was broadcasting at the time. So, I nipped in, to find two teenage boys scoping themselves saying these nasty things to others. One comment from me and I was immediately blocked by them.
Fast forward Coronavirus, where, we’re not able to do our usual things. Life becomes abnormal, routines out of the window, so we look for new things to do, new things to entertain us and keep us company. Lo and behold, Periscope still exists today, five years after its initial launch in March 2015.
I’ve scoped occasionally since and have to say I’ve loved it. I’ve made more new friends, re-connected with old ones and it’s great to see moderation plays a big part in the broadcasts. Those broadcasting, can assign specific users to moderate their broadcasts for trolls and remove/block those viewers as appropriate, or, you can allow everyone to moderate and do the same thing, but that does lead to awful decisions made by the viewing public – you’ll find that people who are simply saying ‘Hello’ are blocked.
Many Scopes have a huge fanbase and it’s Periscope where they’ve crafted their skills and there are probably thousands around the world that I’ve not seen, but there are a few that I’ve watched over the years that I think have made an impact.
Take Moe Saleh for example, who started his Periscope career by showing us the delights of New York. Now, with more than 25k followers, he’s still showing us around his city even to this day (though he apparently doesn’t appear to keep his broadcasts anymore!).
Alex Pettitt, tech broadcaster and creative, used to amass thousands of views on the platform, but has since dropped off to focus more on his YouTube channel. I remember watching him for the latest tech tips and reviews of products – plus, being geeky, it was just nice to see his set up.
Then there’s my friend Adam Yaffe, someone whom I met through the app. With over 8,000 followers, he’s been broadcasting on Periscope since forever. His attraction to viewers is his openness and willingness to broadcast daily and have a laugh, sometimes sprinkled with debate and meaningful discussion and appearances from his daughter and son, who also add an extra dimension to the broadcasts. I’ve made many friends amongst those who watch his broadcasts and I’m greeted every time with ‘F**KING HELL, IT’S IAN PINNELL’. I mean, where else do you think I got the t-shirt from? You’re invited into his life, daily. The community he’s created is welcoming and despite the appearance of a few trolls every now and again, if you’ve never been on Periscope before, make sure he’s the first person you watch.
It’s content like that, during times of uncertainty and pandemic, that boosts the mood of the nation and brings people together. Its why I believe Periscope still exists today. It’s a platform that’s still not widely known, but one that has grown and adapted over the years.
All that said and done though, I do believe Periscope still has an uncertain future, especially with the likes of TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Zoom being readily available, more known and easily accessed to do the same thing you can do on Scope.
To retain its longevity, Periscope needs to future proof itself – what can it offer that no other platform can? The answer is simple – niche, original content, broadcasters who provide this, around the world. They need to be heard, the app and platform needs more publicity, and these broadcasters need our support.
Who knew that five years on, Periscope would still be a thing?!