YouTube is conducting a limited test of a live video streaming platform.
In a two-day pilot that ends Tuesday, YouTube is working with partners Howcast, Rocketboom, Next New Networks, and Young Hollywood. Based on the results of this test, YouTube will evaluate rolling out the platform more broadly to partners around the globe, said Joshua Siegel, product manager, and Christopher Hamilton, product marketing manager, in a company blog.
"This new platform integrates live streaming directly into YouTube channels; all broadcasters need is a webcam or external USB/FireWire camera," they said. "Included in the test is a 'Live Comments' module which lets you engage with the broadcaster and the broader YouTube community."
The schedule of live shows, posted in Pacific time, includes "Making How-To's with Howcast," "Tony Hawk Kicks Back at the YH Studio," and "Talk Movies & Filmmaking with Erik Beck," according to YouTube. Last month, word leaked of a deal Google is working that will allow it to distribute pay-per-view video through YouTube.
This is not YouTube's first foray into live video streaming. In the past, the popular Google-owned video-sharing site has shown live events including President Barack Obama's first State of the Union address, a U2 concert, the E3 video game industry showcase, and Indian cricket matches.
YouTube faces competition in this space, already targeted by startups such as Ustream, Justin.tv, and Livestream. Backed by private investors and Gannett, Livestream has more than half a million producers enrolled and more than 700,000 channels seen by 16.7 million-plus viewers each month, according to its website. Ustream is backed by venture capital firms and Softbank Group, while Justin.tv is funded by Alsop Louie Partners, Tim Draper, and Y Combinator.
In July, 178 million U.S. Internet users -- or 84.9% of Internet users in the United States -- watched online videos, for an average of 14.7 hours per user, according to ComScore. Google sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube, took the top spot, with 143.2 million unique viewers, followed by Yahoo sites with 55.1 million viewers. Facebook jumped one position to capture the third spot with 46.6 million viewers, according to the digital-marketing intelligence company.
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