Ustream’s live video chatting service has become huge in Japan, and now the company hopes for the same kind of success in Korea.
Video chatting has become incredibly popular, no doubt about it. The latest fad in video chatting though is live streaming like a broadcast, instead of just a one-on-one chat. Google Plus took a step in this direction by creating the Google Hangout which lets multiple people video chat at once. Ustream has taken it one step further.
Ustream lets a user broadcast their video feed while viewers can send chat messages to the broadcaster and to other viewers in the chat room. That way, the Ustream user recording live and sending out their video feed can respond to the chats in real time in their video stream (if they want).
One of the biggest revenue drivers for Ustream is celebrity users that broadcast live, which draws in hundreds of viewers (and therefore hundreds of ad viewers). Hollywood celebrities that have used the service include Snoop Dogg, Diddy, Ashton Kutcher, and more. Also, the RNC was broadcasted over Ustream in addition to helping other political candidates during the 2008 presidential election like Barack Obama and John McCain. It has grown far beyond just a simple video chatting application with friends.
Other features that Ustream offers (for all of its brands, not just its American-based service) include: co-hosting video, IRC chat, customizable channels, embeddable player, and viewing content in real time directly from mobile devices, smart TVs, and other devices. The company started its services in America but has since branched out trying to monopolize on an international user base. Its first new branch started in Japan in 2010. Now, the company has just launched Ustream Korea.
A partnership with KT Corporation is what led to turning Ustream Korea into a reality. KT Corporation is a big-name telecommunications provider in South Korea. Due to the partnership, Ustream got $10 million USD in funding from Softbank, a large Japanese telecom provider. Overall, after that round of funding, Ustream’s outside investment total is about $60 million USD.
The new CEO of Ustream Korea certainly has the credentials to make the service viable in Korea. Jimmy Kim was made CEO of the Korean branch, and has worked as the vice president at Viacom International before this, in addition to working at CNBC, Technicolor, and Bloomberg television.
More than just users broadcasting video, Ustream wants to set up a stronger social network experience, says the company’s social media manager Tony Riggins. Plans for the future include setting up a “penguin cam” that will be broadcasting from SeaWorld in San Diego, a live AP news channel, and lesser known events like the Olleh Smartphone movie festival, and the Indi Band Awards.
Ustream Korea is hoping for the same kind of exposure. Huge Korean pop stars like the Wonder-Girls and Park Jae Bum were given a preview of the service earlier in the year in the hopes of encouraging them to use it when the product was officially released yesterday. In February, across all of Ustream’s services, the site reported 14.2 million users, 29 million social stream messages created, and 2 billion viewers.
Further hope for Ustream Korea comes from the success that Ustream Japan has had. Twelve actual television studios across Japan were started because of Ustream (and still use the service). That kind of success has garnered attention from important advertisers like Starbucks and Nikkei.
Web 2.0 is only getting more and more interactive. Fans love services like Twitter, Facebook, and Ustream because it gives them an opportunity to get personal with TV, movie, and Internet personalities they love. If you’re interested in reading more about different video companies on the web, check out our blog post about Vevo on YouTube and possibly Facebook.