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Facebook (FB) Launches Live Audio Rooms, Podcasts in the US

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Facebook (FB - Free Report) recently launched Live Audio Rooms and podcasts on its platform for public figures and select users in the United States, marking its presence in the live audio services universe, per Reuters report.

Within groups, admins can manage hosts allowed to create a Live Audio room from among moderators, group members, or other admins. Public group chats will be accessible both in and outside the group but private group chats will be restricted to members.

In each Live Audio Room session, there can be up to 50 speakers with no limit on the number of listeners. There are also options for enabling live captions, a raise hand tool to request to speak and tools to share the room with others on Facebook through things like News Feed or Group posts.

Moreover, hosts can also select a non-profit organization or fundraiser to support during their conversation with a button to directly donate showing up on the chat. A progress bar will show how much has been raised during the show.

Facebook’s Efforts to Attract Content Creators

Facebook is making aggressive attempts to attract content creators to its platform. The social media giant is partnering with public figures including musicians (TOKiMONSTA, D Smoke and Kehlani), media figures (Joe Budden and DeRay Mckesson) and athletes (Russell Wilson and Omareloff) in the live audio rooms rollout.

Listeners can show support by sending Facebook's virtual currency called Stars to creators in live audio rooms. By sending Stars, the listener is bumped up to the front row of the Live Audio room, a special section that highlights the people who sent the Stars. This allows the event’s hosts to easily recognize their supporters.

In addition to rooms, Facebook is also beginning to add podcasts to its platform. With the update, fans can listen to podcast episodes while they browse Facebook through a mini-player or a full-screen player with various playback controls, including when their phone display is turned off.

Facebook is planning to roll out automatic captioning later this summer, as well as a clips feature where listeners can create and share their favorite clips.

The company has approached various creators for podcast content including Joe Budden of The Joe Budden Podcast, Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin and Jac Vanek of The LadyGang, and Nicaila Matthews Okome of Side Hustle Pro. Facebook will open up to other podcasters this summer.

The new podcast service involves podcasts that are streamed via public RSS feeds directly on Facebook unlike the recently launched music and podcasts player in partnership with Spotify (SPOT - Free Report) , which lets users share content from Spotify to the social network.

Facebook Enters a Competitive Audio- Based Social Market

The launch follows a wave of interest in audio-based social networks and growth in Clubhouse, which drew over 10 million users since its launch in February last year. Recently, Clubhouse crossed one million downloads on Google Play store, just a week after the Android app was rolled out in India.

Other tech giants have also jumped into the live audio sector with Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) launching Spaces in December and Spotify launching Greenroom after acquiring Betty Labs, the company behind the popular sports-focused audio platform Locker Room.

Last month, Spotify announced three new features — buttons with increased readability features, options for text resizing, and a beta for podcast transcripts.

Slack, Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) owned LinkedIn and Reddit are also working on similar products. They will also have to compete with Discord, which has been offering live audio since 2015 and has more than 140 million users.

Facebook, which has been criticized for its handling of problematic content across its products, will face the challenges of moderating live and recorded audio content, including in private Facebook Groups.

Nonetheless, this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company is working on adding the ability to create and share short clips from a podcast, along with other features, like captions. Additionally, it will create social experiences around podcasts. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Moreover, Facebook is working with creators to develop and launch its new product, Soundbites, comprising short-form, creative audio clips, slated for launch later in 2021.

Other audio products in the works include a central listening destination and background audio listening for videos.

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