YouTube's Reluctance to Offer Live Streaming Leaves Opportunity For Others

Posted on August 14, 2008

Silicon Alley Insider reports that YouTube is apparently not ready to offer live streaming as previously thought.

Outsiders have long considered live streaming as a logical next step for YouTube, which dominates the market for pre-recorded Web video. Co-founder Steve Chen gave credence to the idea himself in February when he told Pop17's Sarah Meyers: "Live video is something we've always wanted to do but haven't had the resources to do it correctly, but now with Google we hope to launch something this year."

But our source says that Google (GOOG) has never really seriously considered a live video service. We're told that the notion was discussed months after Chen's statement, but that the idea was tabled, for a variety of reasons. Chief among them: It would add significantly to Google's infrastructure and bandwidth costs at a time when it's trying to prove that the $1.65 billion it paid to buy the company will, at some point, pay off.

We're told that YouTube execs estimated that if just 10% of the service's users took advantage of live streaming, the company would have to add 20% to 25% to its huge server and bandwidth infrastructure to support it. Given that advertising dollars for live streaming are even scarcer than they are on conventional Web video, that's a significant investment with minimal near-term return. YouTube's sales team is still trying to figure out how to sell the inventory it already has.

If YouTube isn't going to jump into live streaming right away or at all that will be good news for some of the company's trying to develop live streaming.

A few websites offering life streaming include:

  • BlogTV
  • Mogulus
  • Stickam
  • Yahoo Live

    So far most of the people and shows doing live streams on these websites get very few visitors but blogs and video blogs started out with small amounts of traffic as well. At some point live streams will probably be such a common feature that you will probably be able to have a live stream from your webcam as your avatar should you want to. Live streaming may be an area where developing business-to-business software for video conferencing is far more lucrative than any social media opportunity.

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