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MeeboEver since Justin started reinventing The Truman Show on the Internet and broadcasting his everyday life for all to see, a bulb has been lit among many. Ustream.tv, which launched very recently, is one that is, you could say a live version of YouTube and a mass version of Justin.tv.

How It Works
The idea behind Ustream.tv is that anyone equipped with a reasonable Internet connection, a laptop, and a webcam (and optionally mic for audio), can stream anything to a large number of people. This can be used to stream live concerts (inspiration: AOL/Live 8 a couple years back), conferences, events, and anything you can imagine (Internet-based VJs? News reporters? Talk shows?). It can also be used to host things like meetings and video conferences between a group, not to mention the good ole’ speed-dating via webcam.

For example, the Web 2.0 Expo is San Francisco is currently being live broadcasted (livecasted?) as we speak. I’m currently watching something that is happening thousands of miles away, as it happens, for free. While it’s not entirely like being there, the video is great, the audio is clear, there’s people in the chatroom to keep things happening if I’m bored by the current speaker, so what else would I need? Chris Pirillo seems to have been experimenting with it recently with the show he calls ‘Tech Sex.’ The videos from his first attempts are on YouTube, and after having watched it, it’s really interesting to see it come alive in a manner where the whole thing is interactive, but at the same time open to all (as opposed to a conference meeting). 

Opinion
Obviously, the concept of ‘watching something thousands of miles away as it happens’ is not new at all, live television enabled that a few decades ago, but can you imagine watching the Web 2.0 Expo on CNN? Of course not — the difference with this kind of live streaming is that it’s meta, or freely enabled to the masses. We can now watch things that’s really important to us but only a few people care about, and stream things to enable hundreds of people from all over the world to experience what we are. I think this is going to be the new YouTube when it comes to generating user generated content and more importantly celebrities and personalities out of them (is Chris Pirillo the new LonelyGirl?). One could argue that only a few will really care about the user generated content until this gets big, so till then I guess that’s what streaming the local U2 concert is all about — after all, it did get AOL 5 million viewers when they did it.

Ustream.tv

Written by | dave

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8 Comments

  1. Patrick B.

    April 15, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Streaming live video is a neat concept but who could possibly do it all the time? I don’t think the idea of video for entertainment rather than always being “plugged in” will go away. I’m running a new project called Pea Bee that aggregates video from all over the web for this purpose. Check it out at http://www.peabee.com
    It also supports live streams and a live streaming encoder is available from Adobe Labs. Even though the player can support direct streams, I think there’s a good reason why there aren’t many out there. Still, thanks for the heads up! Great blog :)

  2. James A.

    April 15, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Certainly this project will generate a massive amount of bandwidth consumption that will be wasted for 99% of the time… The right price to pay for a few minutes of valuable content?

    By the way, did you notice this: http://www.yourtrumanshow.com? Know anything about them?

    James
    .

  3. Sid Yadav

    April 15, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Patrick,
    That’s the thing — and that’s exactly why, before we see a boom in user-generated content with this kind of live streaming (if we do), we’re going to be watching only things we’re familiar with — concerts, events, conferences, etc. etc. And this kind of technology is excellent for that — much better than the ‘watch the U2 concert I taped 3 months ago on YouTube’ experience.

    James,
    While there will be some ‘bandwidth wastage,’ for example if I create and stream a show for 6 hours striaght and with only 6 viewers, you have to remember Ustream.tv is paying for two different sides of the bandwidth. When footage comes in, they pay to download it — which they will be for any possible video that ever gets streamed — and then they pay to upload/stream it — that is, in respect to the amount of viewers a video has. For something popular, that’ll be huge. I can’t imagine though, for the rest of the videos with 4 or 5 viewers they’ll be paying too much. If we say in total that’ll be 20kb/s (3fps, low quality?) that will result in about 72mb/hour — still pretty managable. Of course, for the ones with 200 or 300 viewers, that’ll be more like 500mb/hour (ouch!).

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