Periscope vs. Meerkat

I started using Meerkat right as buzz started to build up in early March. For those still unfamiliar, Meerkat is the live streaming app that allows you to view anyone live streaming you follow on Twitter. That’s right, anyone in the world. Within a few weeks, it had nearly 100,000 downloads and raised $14M in capital. Then, I went to SXSW and the buzz was not only the sound of a bee, but also the color of one.

Meerkat fan

As a non-celebrity — not even in the tech world — my largest stream maxed out at 50 viewers during the PSFK Retail Innovation salon, where I kept a two-hour Meerkat going while I spoke alongside executives from major retail companies like Home Depot.

I also serendipitously participated with Product Hunt’s Erik Torenberg’s Meerkat flash mob at SXSW that aimed to top the most popular stream and make it to one thousand subscribers (they almost did it), although I was disappointed to find there was no dancing.

At the end of SXSW Interactive, I felt like there was an over-hype of the platform. It had great branding, true, but it seemed to be mainly the tech crowd participating — basically as homogeneous as the city of San Francisco.

Back in San Francisco, Twitter had already bought Periscope, another live streaming app that is nearly identical to Meerkat but has much better reach to the Twitter user base, and re-launched the service. I instantly found the rush of hundreds of viewers was much more attainable than on Meerkat, plus you captured people from all over the world.

The increased mainstream usage on Periscope did lead to more trolls, but shortly before April Fools’ Day, it started to lead to more comedy as well (just like Twitter’s last purchase, Vine).

zuckerberg-scoped-screenshotI HAD to get involved in the Fools’ Day fun, so I started a series called, #Scoped (a few days before April 1 in order to remain under the radar).

In use: ‘You got scoped!’ My X for Y was Funny or Die for Live Streaming. It was a parody on how link baity titles on Periscope could easily draw in 200-300 viewers in less than 30 seconds.

Some titles of my #scoped streams, included:

> Riding in a Ferrari

> Mark Zuckerberg Breakdancing

> Running from the Police

> House of Cards Season 4 Sneak Preview

If I added enough visual context that seemed real it would throw off the viewers (and add some smiles to their day once they realized it was fake).

Then I’d shout ‘You got scoped!’ and have a little laugh with my viewers.

While it was a fun enough joke, #scoped also showed  that Periscope easily drives more adoption than Meerkat if you know how to market your streams.

Marketing them correctly is easy. Here are the three Ts you should always follow:

periscope interface1 – Titling. It starts with titles. It’s your subject line. If you don’t make it short (ideally one line, or less than 30 characters) and punchy, no one will click through.

2 – Twitter. Make sure your Twitter bird icon is highlighted. Sharing to Twitter is especially important if you add a hashtag or @name in the title that will draw additional eyeballs.

3 – Titillating. Once you get your first 20-30 viewers on a stream it’s a critical time. You need to be showing something interesting. It’s video, so that means there needs to be movement, audio, and a unique portal into a world you don’t see everyday.

This isn’t the real power of live streaming though. Imagine if you had live streaming apps on Twitter during the Arab Revolution or streaming police encounters like Ferguson. Then it’s even more powerful.

So without further ado. Here’s a breakdown of Periscope versus Meerkat.


1 – a prairie dog.

2 – a mobile app that allows you to live stream.


1 – an underwater lens that allows you to see above the water, generally used with submarines, or by small children.

2 – a mobile app (owned by Twitter) that allows you to live stream.

Meerkat Periscope
App Store Ranking (USA: Social Networking) 164 24
Funding Raised $14M, Greylock, YouTube founder Chad Hurley, actor/singer/songwriter Jared Leto, Sound Ventures, Vayner/RSE, Comcast Ventures, Sherpa, Slow Ventures, Soma Capital, Universal Music Group, Raine Ventures, Broadway Video Ventures, WME, CAA Ventures, and UTA. Previous investors Aleph and Entree Capital are in this round, as well. Acquired by Twitter.
# of Countries >100 Rank for Social Networking 11 92
Common Use Case Tech, Business, Events Interviews, Personal Lives
Twitter Authentication Required Required
Privacy Public, Private Public, Limited
Average Adoption Time for 5-10 Viewers (Avg Est) 30 seconds to 2 minutes 15-30 seconds
Top User @Madonna
Fahad @f3k
27k followers, 8M hearts
# of Languages 1 25
# of Ratings (iOS) 442 942
# of Users (Est: 100*Ratings) 358,000 836,000
All-Time Rating Average 3.5 3.7
Featured on iTunes 445 517
International Factor Low to Medium High
Android? Viewing Only No

*This is based on data I’ve found from third parties and personal experiences. Accurate as of 4/23/15.

Click to Expand
Click to Expand

You could also look at site traffic as a gauge for user awareness, and potentially click throughs from streams posted as tweets.

periscope meerkat topsy data on tweets

If you look at this as a win-lose situation, I believe Periscope will win. Twitter gives them access to a vast amount of more users, and even though Meerkat had early brand success and had early celebrity adoption more celebrities, streamers, and viewers are moving over to Periscope at a rapid click.

Below shows the number of streams tracked on Twitter for Meerkat. Periscope launched on March 26.

Week Number Of Hits
28 Feb – 28th Feb 1
01 Mar – 07th Mar 354
08 Mar – 14th Mar 3217
15 Mar – 21st Mar 30698
22 Mar – 28th Mar 65014
29 Mar – 04th Apr 5880

At the end of the day, it will come down to how many people log on to watch your streams. 

My last Periscope stream had 233 viewers. My last Meerkat? Zero.

about the author

Tristan Pollock is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at 500 Startups and the co-founder of Storefront, the online marketplace that connects makers with retail space. Previously, he co-founded SocialEarth, the Huffington Post of social entrepreneurship. A Minnesota native from a family of makers, Tristan now lives and creates in San Francisco, California.

He’s on periscope as @writerpollock 


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