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Live Streaming

Mar 15, 2012 11:39 AM, By Jan Ozer

Choosing a live streaming service provider (LSSP).


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Figure 2. Livestream’s new longitudinal event experience.

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

Before you start considering an LSSP, you should ask yourself two key questions. The first is are you looking for eyeballs or just the technology? One of the great values of sites like Justin.tv, Ustream, and Livestream is that they are destination sites for viewers seeking live and on-demand entertainment—Justin.tv for the gamer crowd, and Ustream and Livestream more for general audiences.

Like posting on-demand videos on YouTube, broadcasting on these sites can bring you plenty of viewers. If you’re looking for these eyeballs, then you want to choose a site that matches the demographics of your target audience. Since most viewers will watch the broadcasts from your channel page on the LSSP site, you also should focus more on the features of the channel page that the LSSP provides rather than the embedded player. On the other hand, if you’re primarily looking for live streaming technology to leverage within a player embedded within your own website, you care more about the features of the embedded player.

The second question is can you live with advertising on your channel page or even on an embedded player? All the services offer advertising-supported free versions of their services with some limitations discussed below. This may be acceptable to many smaller broadcasters. If you’d like to drop the advertisements, note that all the listed LSSPs save Justin.tv offer for-fee “white label” versions without the third-party advertising. With Justin.tv, you can’t offer an advertising-free view of your videos to your viewers.

Figure 3. Justin.tv’s access limitations

CHANNEL LANDING PAGE

The channel landing page is the page on the LSSP website where potential viewers go to watch your live and on-demand broadcasts (all services archive live broadcasts for subsequent on-demand viewing). The features of this page should be your next considerations.

If you’re seeking to monetize your content, you should ask about the monetization capabilities offered by the site. These can vary from a share of revenue for advertisements shown on your site to pay-per-view or subscription access to videos. This is illustrated in Figure 1, which shows the UFC broadcasting pay-per-view fights on Ustream. Also on Ustream, you can pay $0.99 to learn how to bake cakes from the Cake Boss Buddy Valastro or $4.99 to watch Ron Volper tell you how to increase sales in the new economy. All LSSPs have different monetization offerings and different LSSP/producer splits, so investigate this issue early in your analysis.

The next consideration is the experience you’re seeking to deliver to your viewers. Figure 1 is the current prototype: a video player with social media links, a related library of content on the right, and a social stream, consisting of chat, tweets, and other content on the right.

Though Livestream’s current offering is very similar to Figure 1 with its beta product, the company is attempting to change the paradigm with an event-oriented longitudinal presentation that includes pictures, video, and chat from before and after the event. This is shown in Figure 2, a long page full of pictures, chat, and comments with the actual concert just another stop in the stream. Realtime viewers can watch the band as it sets up, then watch the concert, and then share in the post-concert cool down and break down. On-demand viewers can share in any or all of the experience.

Imagine a training session hosted by your organization, or the Sunday sermon. Under Livestream’s new paradigm, the live video is presented with pictures of the rapt audience, the guest speaker chatting with the CEO after the discussion, and tweets and comments from remote listeners. The experience is much more rich and nuanced, for live and on-demand viewers.



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