Credit: By Kevin Dooley 

ABC News has launched a livestreaming initiative which allows journalists to broadcast live footage from their smartphones via an app called LiveU.

The initiative, called GoStream, aims to enable journalists to stream live footage without worrying about the need for a big production crew or on-air graphics.

"We have journalists on the ground who are gaining access to people or places, [where] it may not be appropriate to bring a full camera crew," Doug Vance, vice-president of product at ABC News, explained in a recent podcast.

"The nice thing about this technology is that it allows us to tell many different types of stories."

GoStream has already been used to cover protests in Staten Island, New York, in the wake of the Grand Jury decision not to indict the police officer in the Eric Garner case; and for reporting on Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines among other stories.

And aside from covering hard news, ABC News journalists have also been using GoStream "in less traditional scenarios" since its launch at the beginning of December, said Vance.

Go Stream livestream
Screenshot of ABC News livestream from Staten Island

It has been used to film inside an Amazon order fulfillment centre following Cyber Monday, for example, and inside the White House as Christmas decorations were unveiled.

Vance said a smartphone allowed ABC News journalists to "roam around a little bit more unencumbered and in a more casual way".

GoStream is being slowly rolled out across the organisation, and training is being done "on the fly", he said, adding that the technology will be improved and optimised as reporters use it more.

ABC News is also planning to hire an editor to manage GoStream and the outlet's other live digital video programmes.

Vance explained that one aspect of the job will be to "encourage our reporters and journalists to be ready to react if they find themselves in a part of the world where something happens and we're not able to dispatch a camera crew or a full production arm there immediately."

ABC News already has eight hours of live programming across its digital platforms, said Vance, and GoStream sits alongside pre-planned streams of speeches from Washington DC for example.

GoStream builds on the lessons of a 'multi-stream' project set up during the US presidential elections in 2012, when the media organisation had over 10 million live video streams across all of its channels.

Nowadays, the number of platforms available to news organisations has prompted ABC News to further experiment with the format, explained Vance.

I think the platforms are also lending themselves to this type of immediacyDoug Vance, ABC News
GoStream is available as a curated live feed on the ABC News website, the outlet's mobile apps, and on Apple TV, where Vance explained live coverage has been their most successful type of content.

"I think users are starved of live coverage on these over the top or connected devices," he said,

He added that many users are now watching ABC News livestreams on their phones for 10 or 20 minutes at a time, which wasn't the case two years ago.

"We've seen a really strong willingness by users of our phone apps to have access to live coverage, and we connected that with push alerts."

These push notifications are used to "quickly alert" users whenever a livestream is set up, he said.

"Aside from the content itself, I think the platforms are also lending themselves to this type of immediacy and that's something that we're going to continue to experiment with."
  • To hear more about news organisations using livestreaming and to get some tips for setting up your own live streams, check out this week's podcast.

Update: This piece was updated to clarify the number of live video streams on ABC News platforms in 2012.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).