Sunday, June 28, 2009

Facebook Goes Live, Partners with Ustream on Live Video Social Streaming

In yet another integration of online video and social media platforms, the social networking giant Facebook has just announced that they are offering live streaming on Facebook pages through a partnership with Ustream, the leading live streaming platform. The new Facebook social widget called the Live Stream Box was first demonstrated during some recent Jonas Brothers concerts but was officially released this past week in both a free ad supported version or a premium white label version version powered by Ustream's Watershed available for $15,000 primarily geared toward artists and brands that can pay the "one-time development fee" and a subscription to Watershed's monthly $879 plan. See the Ustream on Facebook FAQs for more information.

With the merging of functionality between social network platforms Facebook is starting to look a lot like Twitter or Friendfeed incorporating real-time status updates and shared links, photos and videos. While real-time chat is a common feature in live streaming applications, it's though the size of the Facebook community that makes the Facebook/Ustream partnership significant. The 2009 US Presidential Inauguration was a seminal online event and important moment for Facebook Platform marking the beginning of a new era in social streaming. Working with CNN Facebook tested a new feature that let people share Facebook status updates and comments side by side with real-time streaming video on CNN's website garnering over a million status updates in two hours.

On the Facebook Developers blog Tom Whitnah explained, "We realized how powerful it was to see what your friends were saying, not just on Facebook, but right in context on Users posted over a million status updates during that two hour event. Since then, we have worked with several established websites and entrepreneurs to show real-time updates next to live broadcasts, including the NBA® All-Star Game and many of the sites covering the Oscars®, and we've seen many other sites integrate similar features themselves such as Nana10 in Israel which hosted live broadcasts and their own live conversations using Facebook Connect during the Israeli elections earlier this year."

The Jonas Brothers event also had huge numbers according to Ustream:
  • 1.5 million unique posts were made via Facebook Live Feed
  • 23K average posts per minute
  • More than 100K users joined the webcast after seeing their friend’s comment on Facebook
  • 974K total unique viewers watched the one hour webcast
  • Ustream reported the Jonas Brothers webcast on Facebook surpassed the largest live video event they have hosted for any music artist
  • Over 40,000 tweets were sent out about the event during the one hour webcast
The widget lets users who visit your Facebook site or application share activity and comments in real-time. Powered by Ustream, it works best when you are running a real-time event, like live streaming video for concerts, speeches, or webcasts, live Web chats, webinars, mass-multiplayer games, TV show or any video broadcast. The Live Stream Box is scalable, and according to Whitnah, it can handle millions of simultaneous viewers updating in real-time. He also said it's easy to install and takes just a minute to set up.

You can include a Live Stream Box anywhere on the Web, or within your Facebook Page, or a Facebook application. See the full instructions on the Facebook Developers Live Stream Box wiki page that walks you through the set up and adding Live Stream Box to your site or IFrame application.

In case you hadn't noticed, we're in the era of live social streaming and while the price tag is steep for a white-label version on the Live Stream Box it's clearly targeted at artists and brands like the Jonas Brothers who as Nicholas Carlson notes, "putting three dudes on a couch in front of a laptop doesn't cost a lot. Neither Facebook nor Ustream, which provided the video tech, sold any ads against the show, but there is good reason to expect they'll slap a pre-roll on the next Jonas chat."

Updated links and text: 6/28/09