YouTube Throws Open Live Streaming Floodgates, Brings Service to Most Users

By Steve Anderson December 27, 2013

It wasn't so long ago that YouTube restricted access to its live streaming capabilities—at least on the broadcast side of things—to a particular group only. But now, many of the restrictions have been pulled away, and a whole new era in live streaming on YouTube is about to kick off, with quite a bit of exciting potential coming along with it.

The YouTube Creators blog summed it all up, as Tim James and Satyajeet Salgar—software engineer and product manager with Google respectively—spelled out just what YouTube users would need to do before getting access to the live streaming capabilities that YouTube had to offer. As it turns out, the bar is comparatively low, and is as simple as verifying the account in question that wishes to use the service, and is “in good standing.” Live streaming has, at last report, been available on YouTube since 2011, but was comparatively limited in terms of who could get access. Access was determined by number of subscribers at the time, and only those users who had 100 or more could get in on live streaming.

Verifying an account can be an incredibly simple process—just give Google a phone number that it or YouTube can use to get in touch should the need arise—and being in “good standing” simply means that the account in question has no community violations, the account hasn't been blocked for content issues, and there aren't any outstanding flags for copyright infringement. Those unsure of current standing with YouTube need only to check the “account feature” page or the “video manager” section and look for “live events” as an available option.

Live streaming itself, meanwhile, is being billed as a way to drive engagement on YouTube, as well as augmenting subscriber counts, the kind of thing that can really let a YouTube channel's profitability take off. Users can offer several new items with live streaming, including streaming a Google Hangout session by using the Google Plus community to schedule a “Hangout on Air,” which will then be automatically streamed to YouTube. Live events like presentations or webinars become possible this way, and by adding in something like Skype or a Web-based real time communications (WebRTC) service, it becomes possible to actually take questions during the live streaming session.

Using a live streaming event can be a valuable thing; some retailers have taken to offering users access to instructional video of how to assemble a product or how to use it once it is assembled, and being able to offer live streaming sessions—complete with question and answer portions—can certainly be a help. Indeed, Amazon recently took note of the growing numbers of mobile shoppers out there, and offered up its Mayday button that allowed for quick access to live video help. Amazon was pleasantly surprised to find that response times, even on Christmas morning, turned out faster than even the company expected.

Naturally, as is the case with any new development, some will welcome this change. There's certainly plenty of opportunity to put it to use, but then, some businesses may not have an interest in live streaming. However, the opportunity involved suggests we may see more companies turning to live streaming video as part of marketing or customer engagement efforts with 2014's arrival.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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