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/ April 11, 2011
YouTube Introduces Live Streaming, Wants To Broadcast The World

YouTube has introduced “YouTube Live,” a beta platform providing tools for live streaming of content. YouTube had previously streamed concerts, sporting events and political interviews, but now the site hopes to become a full broadcast portal. Currently only some of YouTube’s “partners in good standing” may broadcast, but over time they plan to open the feature to as many accounts as possible, diversifying content offerings to compete with premium video platforms like Netflix Instant, Hulu, and Amazon Prime’s new video service.

As of today, the browse page for YouTube Live ain’t got much. The first few broadcasts have been mostly tech-oriented, though plenty of interesting content has appeared: teen author John Green hosted a reading and discussion of his books, Stanford School of Business is streaming some business lectures, and some studios are even premiering TV pilots via YouTube Live. Old streams become traditional YouTube videos in case you miss them, and you can add future broadcasts to your watch list, Google Calendar, iCal, or Microsoft Outlook calendar.

Over the past few years, YouTube’s user channels have become overcrowded with video logs of hopeless teenagers in pajamas vying for viral fame. But just as early television gradually moved toward live broadcast, “vlogs” naturally make more sense as live content. Now, thousands of YouTube channels will truly become channels of televised content.

The potential uses? Don’t be surprised if your biology lecture or one of NYU’s many convocations turn to YouTube for streaming. NYU already uses Cisco’s Telepresence for connecting students and classes abroad with other campuses, and many larger lecture halls are already wired for content streaming. Expect to soon find amateur niche news broadcasts. Or ad-supported sports games. Or more annoying teenagers in pajamas, but live!

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was spending $100 million in “a major overhaul” of YouTube in an attempt to widen the appeal of Google TV, the company’s new internet-connected television platform. YouTube hopes to offer dedicated content channels showing professionally-produced content instead of licensing content like Netflix and Amazon’s popular streaming services. But unlike the latter services, YouTube can build its existing social network into its new offerings, meaning the world’s largest online video community could soon take over the world.