To keep users engaged on its platform and compete with emerging rivals, Facebook is launching podcasts and live audio streams in the United States on Monday. According to Facebook, public figures with verified accounts will be able to start to live audio rooms and invite others to speak. People in the United States will be able to listen to a limited number of podcasts at first, with the company planning to add more in the future.
To begin, Live Audio Rooms are only available to a select group of public figures and can only be hosted through the Facebook iOS app. However, both iOS and Android users can join a room, and the feature supports up to 50 speaking participants and an unlimited number of listeners. While Clubhouse has a large user base, it restricts the number of people who can enter a room, so Facebook’s offering has an early advantage over its competitor. Users can also join a conversation by “raising a hand,” and use reactions to participate in real-time.
Within Facebook Groups, users can find and join Live Audio Rooms. Admins can control whether moderators, group members, or other admins can create a Live Audio Room in private groups. Members and visitors can listen to the Live Audio Room in public groups, but only members can listen in private groups. During their conversation, Live Audio Room hosts can choose a nonprofit or fundraiser to support, and listeners and speakers can donate directly.
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has previously appeared on the video streaming app Clubhouse, hosted his own live audio room on his Facebook page. These Live Audio Rooms can be found in users’ News Feeds and via Facebook notifications. You can also set up alerts to notify you when a room becomes available. There’s a “raise a hand” button for people who want to speak, and you’ll get notifications when your friends or followers join the chat, just like in Clubhouse. Live Audio Rooms also has a live caption feature that isn’t available in Clubhouse.
The clubhouse has more than 10 million users and a $1 billion-plus valuation, making it a unicorn startup alongside Uber and Airbnb. Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and others have responded by developing their own Clubhouse competitors.
“The audio industry is fundamentally disjointed. Every platform, whether it’s the live audio component or the podcast component, is doing something unique “In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, Fidji Simo, the head of Facebook’s app, said. “Facebook, on the other hand, is approaching audio as a collaboration of all formats.”
Facebook has also begun to add podcasts to its platform in order to compete better in the audio market and even take on Apple and Spotify. Users can listen to these podcasts “via a mini or full-screen player” while scrolling through Facebook. The podcasts can be found on the creators’ Facebook pages as well as in the News Feed. Users can also choose to listen to a podcast while the screen is turned off. For starters, there aren’t many podcasts in the collection, but Facebook has promised that more will be added soon.