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With mobile devices seeming to sneak into every corner of life where a full-fledged laptop or desktop PC isn't a better choice, an cascading pattern reasserts itself: Television displaced film, the internet is displacing TV, and now streaming video is vaulting past a vision of the internet that once orbited around the written word.

This week, LinkedIn is stepping into the future with a live streaming platform simply called LinkedIn Live, according to TechCrunch. For now, the platform is in an invite-only beta test mode, with not ETA yet for a wide release. (Download the LinkedIn app for iOS or Android).

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In so doing, LinkedIn enters into more direct competition with YouTube, but also with social networks like Facebook. As documented in the book The Facebook Effect, LinkedIn's co-founder and former executive chairman Reid Hoffman was an early investor and believer in Facebook, and his company historically avoided overlapping its magisteria with that of the platform built by Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin and others at Harvard in the mid 2000s.

With the launch of LinkedIn Live, that relationship will get more complicated, but according to TechCrunch, the business-oriented social network has been seeing revenue gains from video content that strongly indicate potentially big gains, if they upgrade their platform to support live streaming. LinkedIn launched support for pre-recorded video uploads in August 2017.

While Facebook has proudly been a company to "move fast and break things," LinkedIn has been far more methodical, and that theme carries into LinkedIn Live. Instead of being oriented toward informal user-generated content, LinkedIn is partnering with production companies known for slick, professional work -- which seems appropriate for a social network designed for professionals.

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However, the flipside of a polished presentation is that it can cost serious money, and it's not clear yet if LinkedIn expects ads embedded in its videos to cover those costs. As a company owned by the publicly traded Microsoft, LinkedIn doesn't quite have the latitude to invest money without having a clear financial roadmap for its owner's shareholders, so it's plausible that LinkedIn will eventually charge a fee to access Live content.

But with LinkedIn Live only in a beta test state, it's probably too early for outside observers to speculate. The head of video product management tells TechCrunch that such considerations "[W]ill come down the road, but for right now we are focused on awesome use cases."

Takeaways

  • TechCrunch reports that LinkedIn is launching LinkedIn Live, a live video streaming platform that will exist inside the social network. It will be limited to a closed beta for now.
  • LinkedIn is partnering with several premium video production outfits to produce some of this live content, rather than relying on its users to generate their own informal videos.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.