YouTube Quietly Launches Live Beta With New Partners

YouTube (s GOOG) may be getting closer to launching a new live offering to partners that want to stream video in real-time, as it’s ramping up new tests of its live streaming technology. Despite a rocky start on its first round of live streams deployed on its own infrastructure, YouTube says it has worked out many of the kinks that held back its earlier tests and is coming back with an offering that’s much improved.

Last September, the online video site launched an alpha test of its YouTube Live service to greatĀ fanfare, highlighting two days of live streaming events with four content partners. But those tests didn’t go as smoothly as planned; none of its partners generated very many views during the alpha run, and viewers that did show up were often struck by low-quality, jittery streams. In short, even though it was YouTube’s initial test of a new technology, the site’s first foray into running live streams on its own architecture ended up being a bit of an embarrassment.

So one can understand why in its second round of tests, the online video powerhouse has to remain mum, allowing partners to take the lead on announcing their own live streams instead. While YouTube isn’t talking up these beta test of the live technology, it’s currently working with partners for another round of tests.

The latest round of new partners using the updated YouTube Live technology included the Vlogbrothers, which streamed their Project 4 Awesome live show on YouTube before the holidays late last year. But the biggest test of the YouTube Live infrastructure will come next week, when Revision3 live streams its ultra-popular DiggNation show live from its studios on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 6:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET.

In a phone interview, Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback said he was excited to be part of the beta test, which will open up new live streaming possibilities for the company and its flagship show. DiggNation, even when it’s on tour or part of a live event, has always been shot-to-tape and uploaded for on-demand viewing later. As a result, Louderback says next week’s show will be the first time DiggNation has streamed the show live in North America. (Revision3 had once streamed DiggNation live from Amsterdam as part of The Next Web conference back in 2008.)

The DiggNation live stream won’t just be a big step up in terms of expected audience for the live streaming product; it should also represent a step up in production values for YouTube Live partners. For next week’s show, Louderback said the DiggNation crew will have a three-camera switched environment and will include all the same types of effects and drop-ins that are available as part of its on-demand shows.

While DiggNation isn’t the only Revision3 show that will take advantage of the YouTube Live partnership, Louderback wouldn’t provide many details on what else the company had in store. What he did tell us is that his company doesn’t currently have any plans to take any of its shows live on a regular schedule, but that it would consider it the possibility depending on audience reaction.

“It’s all about audience feedback,” Louderback said. “We’ll try anything… and if we get a good response we’ll keep doing it.”

Louderback said he had seen the Project 4 Awesome live stream and was impressed with the video quality, so he has high hopes for Revision3’s own live streams. YouTube is also hopeful that it has worked out the kinks in the months since its first test of YouTube Live.

“The idea is that we push things into the market… get feedback, iterate and improve them,” a YouTube spokesperson said when asked about the company’s rollout of the live product. He admitted the alpha test was not without its glitches, but said the company has been hard at work fixing those glitches and is hopeful that future tests will show improvements over time.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: (subscription required)