Once upon a time there was Ustream. Then came YouTube Live.

Once upon a time there was Ustream. Then came YouTube Live.

Summary: YouTube begins live streaming with "partners in good standing" today. The implications, though, with millions of daily users, are considerable.

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YouTube has broadcast several live events in the past, but, as they noted on the official YouTube blog, they've all been "one-offs". Internet users interested in streaming live video relied on Ustream and other similar services, while larger broadcasters streamed video independently. YouTube, as one of the most popular sites on the Internet, was essentially an asynchronous tool for Lady Gaga and cute cat owners.

Today, however, Google announced that YouTube would become a live broadcasting platform:

Today we're announcing the initial roll out of YouTube Live, which will integrate live streaming capabilities and discovery tools directly into the YouTube platform for the first time. This begins with a new YouTube Live browse page (www.youtube.com/live), where you can always find the most compelling live events happening on YouTube and add events to your calendar.

Their initial live-streamed event will begin in a few hours with a YouTube-sponsored concert series, featuring the most-viewed independent artists from the video sharing site. More interestingly, though, is the fact that this may finally become the social tool that Google has failed to create in its years trying to compete with Facebook.

Although YouTube has featured comments on videos for some time, being able to comment and interact during a live stream takes this to a new level. Right now, aside from the so-called Digitour, the selection of live shows is relatively limited. As Google notes, they are "gradually rolling out [their] live streaming beta platform, which will allow certain YouTube partners with accounts in good standing to stream live content on YouTube."

As this becomes more widespread, YouTube Live stands to not only change the face of broadcast (can you say Google TV?), but also stands to change the face of social. It's one thing to interact over static media. It's quite another to interact (and ultimately, expect to interact) with live video.

Given YouTube's existing extraordinary reach, this stands to be a big deal. Like a really bit deal. We'll see what happens when partners beyond the Indian Premier League cricket matches begin to go live. Because while some of the partners will be major media outlets, this has the potential to enable a new level of success for the pre-Justin Bieber's of YouTube-land.

Topic: Social Enterprise

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Didn't I read this story before, say twenty years ago?

    I remember when "interactive TV" was a favorite buzzword. A few people kept asking if this was really a viable concept, if viewers would really and truly interact with a program instead of passively viewing it. They were often shouted down in the craze to sell a new service.

    What has changed? We do see some interactive uses for picking what to view, and even commenting on it after we've viewed it. But I still don't see people interacting *while* viewing a program itself.

    And as far as "live streaming" is concerned, it fills in a gap for those types of content suited for one-time viewing, like sports. But it doesn't change the game for all of the other types of content (including concerts) that people can enjoy on their own schedule, or that wish to view the content more than once. The on-demand types of streaming are still the most important development in content delivery for the foreseeable future.
    terry flores
    • RE: Once upon a time there was Ustream. Then came YouTube Live.

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  • RE: Once upon a time there was Ustream. Then came YouTube Live.

    I'm trying to see the value in this. Maybe the only way to find out is to "attend" one of the (free) sessions and see how it works. 2-way TV is fine, but one-to-many - -how does one of the many viewers interact with that in any sort of event-meaningful way? That is, how would my interaction matter (be useful to) to the other 100000 interactive participants?
    opcom