August 22, 2013

The Downside of YouTube Live?

by Bern Rexer

I recently replied to a post on a social network asking if there was a downside to YouTube live streaming and if it will succeed. It was a difficult to offer a succinct response - i've always been challenged with brevity! But here is my take...

I've seen nothing but continual growth and overall improvement with YouTube live since it began. But it is not as mature right now as similar services regarding features or technical support. 

I think support is proportional to price but I'd consider Google's philosophy regarding support and product knowledge is to rely on the G+ social network which is a fine strategy. Most Google+ products offer approachable community managers - but not so much with YouTube yet. 

However the YouTube Live Streaming Guide is documented well and the YouTube Live Support Forum is adequate - occasionally a YouTube rep will respond (most replies are from contributors). But direct communication with YouTube live support is probably limited to top tier producers. As well a 'Contact Us - direct email consultation' support link was recently added to the YouTube help guide. Your channel is eligible for support if you have more than 15,000 hours of watch time over the last 90 days. When you click the link, the system automatically provides access based on your viewer analytics. 

Remember that Google, including YouTube, is a MASSIVE and very complex operation. They don't have the human resources to offer a typical support system. They also change so quickly that a typical support system is not practical. 

Support for live streaming services is almost always concerning network issues and connectivity. But since YouTube has now opened up live streaming to most (anyone with at least 100 subscribers) - there has been a noticeable deluge of basic user operation questions. Sure, encoding can be a complex task. Still, if something is not connecting then I'd like to call a network operations center or speak with my account rep - which most other services offer if your paying for it. And unlike other streaming services, YouTube does not share their network infrastructure or who they partner with - which to me offers an idea of assurance. I can only assume that the Google CDN for live streaming is (big?) and continues to build out. 

Anyhow, CDNs have always had a reputation regarding congestion and stability. I'm so far pretty happy with the YouTube's network capability and buffer spinners are only occasional. 

The biggest benefit, and why YouTube live streaming will succeed is because of the G+ network. But also, because of Google's massive infrastructure, resources and subsidy to YouTube it will prevail.  

But that doesn't mean that Ustream, Livestream and others will go out of business. Most producers don't like change - and most viewers don't care about the platform or brand as long as they easily see the video. BTW the guys a Livestream are fantastic regarding service and passion to their work - and are very capable of pivoting for continual service offerings. 

To really understand Google and YouTube live start engaging through a G+ account, build your circles, and follow the YouTube Live Streaming Google+ Community.

Happy Streaming! 

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