Ustream’s New Facebook App, Potential Boon for Live Web Shows?

By 05/10/2011
Ustream’s New Facebook App, Potential Boon for Live Web Shows?

Live web shows have one insurmountable hurdle every time they fire up the TriCasters and go live—alerting would-be viewers, wherever they may be grazing, and wooing them over to their stream. Television has spent years building up the notion of appointment viewing, anchored by daily Primetime programming (8:00 to 11:00 PM), that became a fixed piece of the American daily schedule. But as the internet and DVRs disrupted appointment viewing, moving us to a VOD-centric video culture where everything is (or should be) on demand at all times, the rise of live web shows has been stuttered as it tries to find footing with the modern viewer.

Ustream is the heavyweight in live video viewing, reaching more than 50 million unique people each month with live streams of everything from Bald Eagles to balding princes.

Now the company is doubling down on Facebook with the launch of its impressive new App this week, that lets producers insert themselves into the social firehose, for free. Before, Ustream charged for such a custom application, but now it’s going for scale as channels can directly link within Fan Pages. One nifty feature, “Fangate,” requiring viewers to ‘like’ a show’s fan page before viewing the show.

Other key features of the new Ustream Facebook app:

Remind Me
The ability for a user to opt-in to email reminders for an upcoming event within 2 clicks using Facebook Oauth.

Join Crowd
Allows the user to opt-in to email reminders for every time the broadcaster goes live within 2 clicks using Facebook Oauth.

Admin controlled “like”-lock (Fan-gating)
The ability for the admin to require viewers to like their Facebook page prior to viewing.

Highest level of advanced customization
Facebook admins are able to self-customize their application’s banners, backgrounds, text, colors, etc.

Showcasing Upcoming Events
Showcasing other broadcaster’s content directly in your Facebook account
You can showcase other broadcasts found on Ustream directly in your Facebook page.

Could this help tip the tide of fickle online viewers, and the brand dollars that chase after them, towards more live web shows? So far brands do not seem to be clamoring for more live web series, according to some industry experts.

“It’s not predictable,” says CJP Digital’s Wilson Cleveland, “and that makes many brands nervous. Brands like to see things coming and be prepared.” Add to that confusion amongst the consumers about what is worthy of breaking them from their other online activities like email, Twitter and Facebook status updates. “Live implies a sense of urgency, that you must be watching something, and that’s not necessarily the case for talk shows,” adds Cleveland.

But larger events do seem to be in favor with brands, especially finales and one-off events like concerts. The Royal Wedding scored over 100 million views on YouTube last month, and President Obama’s town hall on Facebook also won big with fans. Early adopters of the new Ustream Facebook app, like artist seem to be happy.

Live stream of online network This Week In, which at the time of publishing was just starting This Week in Startups, has found a business in niche web shows, though most views still come from the on-demand episodes on YouTube.