For a select group of publishers, YouTube has made a pay-per-view model available to monetize YouTube Live.
Earlier this week, YouTube hosted an event for the first anniversary of the launch of its YouTube Live service. To celebrate, the company announced a new feature coming to live streams: video creators will be able to post ads or require payment for streaming these live events, to monetize their live video feeds.
Live video streaming has hit the ground running as a new and growing way for people on the Internet to interact. In January, YouTube hosted a Google Plus hangout with President Obama and five everyday people. The President answered questions selected from the 130,000 submitted before the live stream. The whole broadcast was mediated by Google employee Steve Grove. The five “ordinary” participants in the hangout were able to have an unscripted conversation with the President and showcased the interactivity that video over the web can offer as opposed to a TV broadcast.
YouTube also made Wirecast available to all partners for free. Wirecast software is specifically tailored to make live streams look more professional. The software accomplishes that by syncing video from multiple cameras so users can switch between camera views while broadcasting. Wirecast has other features like allowing users to add transitions, images, and text to their video feed. With software like that, YouTube Live may become a TV killer in the near future, if it can find a way to get off of computers and onto TVs.
YouTube tested out its pay-per-view option in the United States with big names like Ultimate Fighting Championship (which implements the pay-per-view business model not just online but on TV as well). Now however the company has expanded the option of monetizing live video streaming to publishers in Canada, Japan, France, and the U.K.
Despite the larger availability of the service, it’s still only available to select publishers within these countries. The fact of the matter is that live streaming still places a huge load on YouTube servers so Google is scaling its infrastructure slowly. Releasing live streaming options to all users in all locations at once would be create an incredible demand on Google’s servers.
Some are saying that YouTube is already well on its way to displacing TV. Viewers on the site watch over four billion videos a day. That eclipses the audience of the three major U.S. television networks combined. It’s apparent to many analysts that viewers want the control that watching content online provides instead of the prescriptive schedule of watching content on a TV.
But, as long as YouTube’s primary means of viewing is computers that aren’t as big as the flat screens in most livings rooms throughout the world, many say that it will still be second string to TV. While there are a lot of devices that allow users to get to YouTube on the Internet via the TV, the real “TV killer” would be a YouTube app accessible from a TV.
However, such an app does exist and is available for Google TV (a set-top box competitor to Apple TV) but there lies another roadblock: Google TV isn’t selling, despite the app’s overhaul in February. The new design is focused around YouTube channels, so users can choose topics they’re interested in and subscribe to publishers’ channels.
Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google) was quoted in December of last year as predicting Google TV units flying off shelves by summer of 2012. Summer hasn’t hit yet but so far, Google TV set-top boxes are no where near the status of flying off shelves.
If you’re curious about what else YouTube has been up to recently, read our blog post about YouTube’s charity work.