Behind the Livestream Boom

More and more of the video that we watch on the web is streamed live. In fact, Nielsen has found that the amount of live video watched online grew more than 600 percent over the past year. At GigaOM’s NewTeeVee Live conference Wednesday, executives from livestream providers UStream, LiveStream and, plus the head of YouTube’s new livestream product, gave their take on what’s driving that growth.

“The proliferation of connected cameras sets the stage for people to broadcast,” said John Ham, the CEO and co-founder of UStream, which has seen 549 percent year over year growth in terms of viewing time. “On the other side of that,” he added, “you have people watching, enabled by connected screens and broadband and things like that.” chief executive Michael Seibel agreed that being able to capture video with mobile devices on the fly is key. Simply put, he said, “It’s hard to produce interesting content in front of your computer.” But at small high school games, business conferences and other events, “the content is out there,” commented Max Haot, CEO of LiveStream, “and all these viewers want to connect with these events.”

Ultimately, said Joshua Siegel, YouTube’s product lead for live streaming, YouTube would like to take live video content creation and streaming to the masses. But he said the company wants to start with content partners and events before scaling up to “address the full user segment.” The infrastructure takes time to build, he explained, and YouTube wants to “go out with an offering that’s great for broadcasters and users, while respecting the rights of copyright owners.” For a company of Google’s size, he said, “that’s a very serious technology issue.” But he closed on a bright note: Referring to live streaming, he said, “We think that there’s phenomenal potential and we’re definitely going to be investing in it in 2011.”

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