The big screen has shrunk.
These days, often the most captivating display is the one in our hands. Digitally savvy broadcasters are reaching their audiences via smartphones and, increasingly, via live video.
In San Francisco, one startup is giving livestream videos a twist: Kamcord allows individuals to broadcast their personal phone screen to viewers, who can then tune in and comment.
"It's really just a new form of entertainment and it's a form of entertainment that's very personal," said Kamcord co-founder Aditya Rathnam. "Rather than just listening to what the TV stations have to say… you can now look at what someone, an influencer that you look up to, what they're doing."
Watching others surf
Kamcord began four years ago as a livestream platform for broadcasting mobile game play. Viewers could follow along as creators navigated through iOS and Android games like Siegecraft and Hyper Breaker Turbo.
Since then, the livestreams — or "appcasts" — have branched out to include streams of a user's phone screen as he or she navigates online content and reacts to web articles, YouTube videos, even online dating profiles. Viewers simultaneously watch the appcast creator and the mobile interactions, while creators can respond to viewer comments.
WATCH: Co-founder talks about Kamcord
"You can discuss politics, you can discuss more frivolous topics like what's the funniest cat video on YouTube," Rathnam said.
For spectators, the experience is very much like being a fly on the digital wall of an ordinary person's phone. And much like our everyday interactions with our smartphones, the resulting appcasts center around fairly routine and mundane activities.
The inherent approachability of Kamcord's appcasts places less pressure on creators to be entertaining and witty.
"One of the things that people underestimate is just how hard it is to stare into a camera and have interesting things to say," Rathnam said. "Rather than thinking about what to say, you're just reacting to what's on your phone screen. There's tons of entertainment on your phone screen, and it now provides a prompt for you to react to that."
Sending virtual gifts
Instant messaging provides real-time dialogue with the creator, as well as the option to send him/her virtual "gifts" like a gold star in varying sizes. Virtual gifts like these cost viewers anywhere from 40 cents to $80.
Like YouTube, Kamcord has afforded more popular creators the chance to profit significantly from their appcasts.
"We have a couple teenage brothers in Australia, and they're actually going to make six figures in earnings this year off of viewers giving them virtual goods," Rathnam said.
For Rathnam, the live video component is the most compelling aspect of Kamcord.
"You don't know what's going to happen on their phone next — what's the next article on their feed or what's going to happen to the person they messaged on Tinder. ... I think that type of entertainment is just not available anywhere else," he said.