YouTube Live is a very useable and useful live streaming service that formerly was only open to a limited number of producers. According to StreamingMedia.com, the service is now free and open to all. I reviewed the service in an article you can read here; here’s one of the two webinars that I produced with the service as part of my testing.
With YouTube Live a free, well performing option, what does this mean for Livestream, Ustream, Justin.tv and other competitors in the space? From my perspective, YouTube Live has several disadvantages. First, the service aspect simply isn’t there; there’s no number to call when things go wrong. If your live event is mission critical, that’s not acceptable.
Other factors relate to the embedded player. With Livestream and Ustream, the player you embed in your own web site has comments and other social media functionality that YouTube’s embedded player doesn’t offer. Embedded players from other services can also display a play list of related videos, which YouTube’s embedded player can’t. In addition, you can customize the Livestream and Ustream players with your own colors and logo, which you can’t do with YouTube, and at certain account levels, you can go fully white labeled, so only your branding is on the player, not that of the service.
Finally, while YouTube was highly usable and rock solid in operation, its features are basic. For example, Livestream provides a much richer event experience, with live blogging and similar features, while Ustream offers a wide range of monetization options, like pay-per-view, and other marketing-oriented features. Basically, YouTube will likely steal many of the customers that use other services for free, but paying customers who need the live service for mission critical operations and other social media, marketing or monetization options, will likely stay with their existing provider.