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Summary:

Justin.tv has seen a bump in usage since releasing mobile apps for broadcasting live streams from iPhone and Android devices. But surprisingly enough, not all those views happen in real-time; in fact, the vast majority of its “live” mobile streams are watched on demand.

justintv iphone

In the months since it launched mobile broadcast applications on the iPhone and Android mobile devices, Justin.tv has seen substantial growth in the number of live streams users uploading and viewing. But here’s a dirty little secret about the “live streaming” company: According to Justin.tv VP of Marketing Matt DiPietro, more than 90 percent of mobile streams uploaded aren’t actually watched until after the “live” broadcast is already over.

That’s one reason why Justin.tv is making vast improvements to the quality of video streams archived on its site. In previous iterations of its mobile apps, the quality of the live stream uploaded and archived on the site was dependent on the quality of the network that the user was shooting under.

While Justin.tv’s mobile apps do a good job of seamlessly adapting the quality of the stream to the bandwidth available to users, that doesn’t always translate into the highest-quality video available on demand. Despite the fact that the cameras in mobile devices are capable of capturing a high-quality stream, mobile videos shot under poor network conditions — on AT&T’s EDGE network, for instance — ended up with not only a low-quality live stream, but also a low-quality copy of the stream in the user’s archive.

To correct this, new versions of Justin.tv iPhone and Android apps — being released today — take advantage of something called frame re-insertion, which ensures that the best copy of a video makes its way into a user’s archive. It works by automatically uploading dropped frames in the background while the video is processing.The quality difference is shown in the video below:

JTV Frame Reinsertion from Matthew DiPietro on Vimeo.

The first half of the video shows what a mobile stream sent from an iPhone 4 over the EDGE network would look like to someone watching it live. But the second half of the video shows what the archived version available on the Justin.tv site looks like, after all of the frames captured during the shooting are re-inserted into the archived video.

DiPietro said in a phone interview that the new apps will give the 90-plus percent of people who watch those videos a high-quality experience rather than the lower-quality video they would have previously seen. For the growing number of users tuning in to streams recorded on low-bandwidth networks, that will be a welcome change.

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  1. Matthew DiPietro Friday, December 10, 2010

    Thanks Ryan for the writeup! I wouldn’t call it a “dirty secret” per se. This is just how it turns out that our users use the service, and we’re responding to that. The data surprised us to be certain, but the more we know about how users engage with the content, the better we can respond. Hence this update. More to come!

    GigaOm readers, you can install the updated apps here: http://www.justin.tv/broadcast/adv_mobile

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