Monday, September 27, 2010

YouTube and its (Potential) Live Streaming Platform

Just a couple of weeks ago, YouTube ran a trial of a Live Streaming platform.  While YouTube has streamed live events in the past, they gave some larger Partners the opportunity to test out the feature for the first time.  Although the trial is over, YouTube is listening to feedback on the feature, and may possibly open the feature to a wider group of users (starting with Partners, most likely) in the future.

I've personally been using UStream as my live streaming platform of choice, and I have been relatively satisfied with it.  With sites like UStream, Justin.TV and BlogTV, it almost seems like YouTube is jumping into this feature a bit late.  Then again, maybe they can improve upon what the current live streaming sites are doing?

As probably expected, ads are a significant factor.  While UStream's ads are not too intrusive (though they can be a bit aggressive), some streaming sites completely interrupt the stream with an unavoidable and unskippable ad.  Ad blockers can only handle some of them.  I would believe that YouTube's advertising strategy for live streaming would be similar to how videos are approved for revenue sharing now.  In other words, no ads on the stream unless the streaming user puts them there.  I'd also include ads placed due to copyright matches, but I think that would be a bit difficult to manage on a live stream.

Another factor is stream quality.  UStream's default quality isn't that great, but can be improved by using either the UStream Producer, or Adobe's Live Media Encoder.  Will YouTube's live streaming allow external encoding applications, or will it be limited to default server settings?

This is a feature I would like to test out if it was to become available to me, if only to compare it to UStream.  I unfortunately can't say much else about the feature at the moment, since I did not watch any of the live streams during the test.  Perhaps someone else who has could fill me in on the experience?

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