What Will YouTube Gain By Offering Live Streaming?

Rumors have been spreading about YouTube entering the live streaming business after TechCrunch posted a screenshot of what the YouTube Live Stream feature may look like yesterday. YouTube has been streaming their own content, including sports, concerts and political speeches and debates, for a couple of years now and many have wondered when they would open up their live streaming doors for content creators. Signs are pointing to YouTube live streaming for all, but what is the incentive for YouTube to offer this new feature to content creators?

Of course YouTube’s largest incentive for moving into live streaming is competition. Niche video sites such as Ustream, Livestream and Justin.tv deal entirely in live streaming – the one niche that YouTube has not mastered yet. YouTube is King when it comes to video blogging, home video, viral video clips and serves as a platform for web series as well. With a live streaming option the site could become even more dominant in the world of web video.

However, live streaming could potentially open up a can of worms for YouTube in the “appropriate content” department. YouTube has been coming under fire a lot recently for content that has been uploaded and then removed due to copyright infringement, violence and inappropriate material. Because live streaming broadcasts live it will be difficult for the site to monitor for terms of service violations.

The other question at hand is whether or not the screenshot released yesterday by TechCrunch really signifies YouTube’s foray into the world of live video streaming. In their post, TechCrunch confirms that the screenshot, which was taken from a YouTube help page, “comes from a YouTube employee with producer access to CitizenTube, the YouTube political channel that often shows life streams.” It is very probable that this feature is simply inherent in his YouTube account as a producer and will not be made available to the general public.

However, according to TechCrunch, Livestream CEO Max Haot believes the screenshot shows “strong evidence that YouTube is about to launch a live streaming feature.” YouTube, on the other hand, has said that it has no plans to release live streaming in the immediate future.

I think it makes more sense for YouTube to begin releasing a live streaming option to certain types of users, such as branded sports channels, politicians, news channels or users in the YouTube partner program. However, I think that offering live streaming to all users may prove problematic for the site. YouTube is doing quite well for itself without live streaming and won’t be missing out by leaving the mass live streaming to sites like Justin.tv, Livestream and Ustream, who are already succeeding in that department.

Do you think YouTube stands to gain anything from opening up live streaming to the public? Do you think we’ll be finding a Live Stream feature on our YouTube accounts in the near future?

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