This week YouTube reveals they are trialling a live streaming service with a view to permanently offering live broadcasting if proven popular with consumers. However this technology is nothing new as sites like Ustream have been mediating individual’s live broadcasts since 2007 – but have you ever heard of it?
For the uninitiated Ustream allows its members to broadcast live from anywhere in the world with a connection to the internet and a webcam. And since late last year an app available for both iPhone and Android mobiles allows owners to broadcast live from their handset too.
Up until yesterday I had only used Ustream in the capacity of a viewer, watching some DJs I follow on Twitter broadcasting mixes from their bedroom or recording studio. But since purchasing an Android phone and downloading the free Ustream app I thought I’d give broadcasting a go.
Admittedly I didn’t really want many people to see the shoddy filming so I opted out of informing my followers on Twitter, a way of letting people know you’re “going live”, sans Edd the Duck. All I streamed was a visit from my lounge to the kitchen, momentarily resting the phone on a table which gave viewers a treat of seeing my recycling bin, or my translucent bag of guilt as I like to call it (because unlike it’s opaque brother people can see your fatty ways: pizza boxes, bottles of beer, donut cartons etc.).
To my astonishment along with the one viewer I knew, my girlfriend, there was three other random people looking at my sack of shame. How weird I thought here I was getting some wine from my fridge broadcasting the “event” live to potentially millions of people, all from the comfort of my hand.
Now this all sounds a bit boring, well it was for the people viewing, but you have to admit it’s bonkers. It got me wondering how many other people are broadcasting from around the world on their mobile right now, and what are they doing? I must know!
Typing into Twitter’s search engine the words “Ustream” and “phone” I immediately got real-time results of people broadcasting their own show to the world. Try it now and you will see tweets consisting of “Hey! I’m live on Ustream from my Android phone” or “I’m broadcasting, from my iPhone, live on Ustream. Come watch!” the standard message sent when opting to tell your followers you’re live in 3, 2, 1…
Clicking on some random links for a few hours this is what I saw: a man standing in line at Disney World waiting to go on Space Mountain (then broadcasting from the ride), a girl eating a sundae with her boyfriend in McDonald’s somewhere in America, a bloke racing through streets on his bike in Japan, some rappers in London recording a music video outside a council estate, a guy drawing a comic in Canada and finally a person at a hunting protest in Washington, D.C.
OK some of this was banal viewing but mostly it was entertaining and considering I was watching the footage along with only a handful of other people at a time it was a unique and downright bizarre experience, and thanks to Ustream’s chat service I was able to interact with the nutters filming too.
When you click on a link it may just be someone picking their nose in Starbucks or painting their living room beige, but the next time you might see a person broadcasting from a pop concert, or even a riot; the options are seemingly endless. And let’s face it there’s normally bugger all on the box anyway and it makes a change from pre-recorded YouTube videos.
But if you don’t want to just sit and watch why not download the free app and start broadcasting yourself? You could record live from the next gig you go to, or secretly film one of your mates suffering a devastating hangover. What are you waiting for?