Watch Out, Ustream & Co: YouTube Starts Live Streaming

YouTube (s GOOG) is launching a limited test of a new live-streaming platform today that could eventually lead to a full-fledged live video offering, putting pressure on sites like Ustream, Livestream or Today and tomorrow only, YouTube will offer live streams from Howcast, Next New Networks, Rocketboom and Young Hollywood (check out the embedded widget below for the complete schedule of these live streams). From the YouTube blog:

“This new platform integrates live streaming directly into YouTube channels; all broadcasters need is a webcam or external USB/FireWire camera. Included in the test is a “Live Comments” module which lets you engage with the broadcaster and the broader YouTube community. For the purpose of the trial, this offering will only be available today and tomorrow. Based on the results of this initial test, we’ll evaluate rolling out the platform more broadly to our partners worldwide.”

YouTube has long been rumored to be launching live streaming. The site’s co-founder, Steve Chen, said more than two years ago that a live video launch was imminent, and TechCrunch recently unearthed a screenshot that hinted at live streaming.

YouTube may have held back on releasing a live streaming option due to copyright concerns. Live video sites like Ustream and have faced criticism  in the past for enabling copyright infringement. Both sites now use video filtering, but some argue these measures don’t go far enough. YouTube’s announcement hints at the possibility that it could sidestep this issue by restricting its live offering only to approved partners.

Related content on GigaOm Pro: Live Event Coverage: Video Rights Roundtable (subscription required)