Facebook is testing live audio streaming feature in partnership with publishers and media houses like BBC World Service, Harper Collins, and individual authors like Adam Grant and Brit Bennett. It plans to launch the feature to more publishers and to all users by early next year.

The company said that it noticed several Pages streaming only an audio channel using the existing Live Video feature which was launched in April. “We also know that publishers sometimes go live from areas that lack strong network connectivity,” Facebook said in a blog post. Live Audio option will also allow broadcasters to connect with audiences in low-connectivity areas where video streaming capabilities could be minimal.

Just like the Live Video feature, users will get notifications when others pages or users initiate a Live Audio post. Listeners can also post comments, leave reactions and share the post in real-time. Apart from this Android users can keep listening to the Audio broadcast even after exiting the app, while iOS users will have to listen to the audio stream while browsing within the Facebook app.

When Facebook debuted Live Video in April, a WSJ report said that the company had paid contracts with 140 different media houses, publishers, and celebs. This leaves us wondering if Facebook might be looking to partner with radio station in the future for Live Audio streaming. The company also seems to have been investing heavily on Live content lately: last week it launched Live 360 video, a 360-degree live video streaming feature; and a live streaming capability on its Virtual Reality platform Oculus VR.

Rise of Live streaming

Facebook announced live streaming feature, limited to celebrity pages in August last year, and extended it to all users by February this year. In the same month, Twitter’s  live streaming app Periscope surpassed 10 million user accounts. Note that Twitter has now integrated Periscope live stream feature right into its app. Twitter acquired Periscope in March 2015 for an undisclosed sum. In June, YouTube started rolling out its live streaming feature to all users though its app.