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Summary:

YouTube’s first test of live video last year showed low viewer counts and low-quality, jittery streams. But not to be deterred, it is rolling out a new beta test of YouTube Live, with Revision3’s DiggNation serving as the first big stress test of the service.

Revision3 > Diggnation

YouTube may be getting closer to launching a new live offering to partners that want to stream video in real-time, as it’s ramping up new tests of its live streaming technology. Despite a rocky start on its first round of live streams deployed on its own infrastructure, YouTube says it has worked out many of the kinks that held back its earlier tests and is coming back with an offering that’s much improved.

Last September, the online video site launched an alpha test of its YouTube Live service to great fanfare, highlighting two days of live streaming events with four content partners. But those tests didn’t go as smoothly as planned; none of its partners generated very many views during the alpha run, and viewers that did show up were often struck by low-quality, jittery streams. In short, even though it was YouTube’s initial test of a new technology, the site’s first foray into running live streams on its own architecture ended up being a bit of an embarrassment.

So one can understand why in its second round of tests, the online video powerhouse has to remain mum, allowing partners to take the lead on announcing their own live streams instead. While YouTube isn’t talking up these beta test of the live technology, it’s currently working with partners for another round of tests.

The latest round of new partners using the updated YouTube Live technology included the Vlogbrothers, which streamed their Project 4 Awesome live show on YouTube before the holidays late last year. But the biggest test of the YouTube Live infrastructure will come next week, when Revision3 live streams its ultra-popular DiggNation show live from its studios on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 6:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET.

In a phone interview, Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback said he was excited to be part of the beta test, which will open up new live streaming possibilities for the company and its flagship show. DiggNation, even when it’s on tour or part of a live event, has always been shot-to-tape and uploaded for on-demand viewing later. As a result, Louderback says next week’s show will be the first time DiggNation has streamed the show live in North America. (Revision3 had once streamed DiggNation live from Amsterdam as part of The Next Web conference back in 2008.)

The DiggNation live stream won’t just be a big step up in terms of expected audience for the live streaming product; it should also represent a step up in production values for YouTube Live partners. For next week’s show, Louderback said the DiggNation crew will have a three-camera switched environment and will include all the same types of effects and drop-ins that are available as part of its on-demand shows.

While DiggNation isn’t the only Revision3 show that will take advantage of the YouTube Live partnership, Louderback wouldn’t provide many details on what else the company had in store. What he did tell us is that his company doesn’t currently have any plans to take any of its shows live on a regular schedule, but that it would consider it the possibility depending on audience reaction.

“It’s all about audience feedback,” Louderback said. “We’ll try anything… and if we get a good response we’ll keep doing it.”

Louderback said he had seen the Project 4 Awesome live stream and was impressed with the video quality, so he has high hopes for Revision3’s own live streams. YouTube is also hopeful that it has worked out the kinks in the months since its first test of YouTube Live.

“The idea is that we push things into the market… get feedback, iterate and improve them,” a YouTube spokesperson said when asked about the company’s rollout of the live product. He admitted the alpha test was not without its glitches, but said the company has been hard at work fixing those glitches and is hopeful that future tests will show improvements over time.

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  1. Mainstreethost Friday, January 14, 2011

    YouTube will work it out and be even more popular, all the teens do today is surf YouTube. mainstreethost

  2. Only those who are already YouTube Partners get to produce with YouTube Live?

    There is quite a difference between doing some taped and doing it live. I’m not talking production but content.

    The content has to fit the live format. Take advantage of it. Be designed for it. Sit-coms would bomb if done live.

    It is too bad that YouTube doesn’t allow non-YouTube-Partners producers to pitch it programs. If someone knows that’s changed, do tell. This is how Hollywood works and it has always struck me as odd that YouTube doesn’t give it a try. This idea that it will only tap those who rise to the top without help is bizarre. No advertising support to raise awareness and help regularly draw in viewers. No publicity help.

    I have an idea for a live show that I think could go up against Leno and Letterman. It would air Monday through Friday at the same time Leno and Letterman shows air in the Eastern and Central time zones. But it would cost money to produce. It would need a national advertising campaign heralding it arrival for months before it airs and then continue through its entire life. And that advertising campaign could not just on the internet. Ads on cable TV, radio, billboards, magazine ads, etc.

    But YouTube doesn’t think big like that and you have to already be a success on YouTube before it will even let you play with its latest toys. If YouTube wonders why its YouTube Partners aren’t bigger successes, the above is why. Shows need major support if you want them to take on broadcast and cable TV shows. Not just with their production budget but with advertising and publicity. Contrary to myth, if you build, they will not come … IF they don’t know you even exist.

  3. It’s great to see that YouTube is starting to really see some of the abilities of the live streaming. Revision3 has been long standing colleagues and friends of the constant on always broadcasting TwitLive (live.twit.tv) organization with Leo Laport. If YouTube can maintain this, websites like Justin.tv and upstream should be quivering in their boots. At any rate, I’ve been a long time fan of revision3 and will surly tune in. All the best and I look forward to contining to show the big networks (especially those in Canada here) that we don’t need them for live valuable content and that it is only a matter of time before all or most of the niche demographic markets are filled with this type of content.

    Thank you YouTube, twit.tv and revision3 for paving the future.

  4. YouTube Gets Into the Live Streaming Game: Online Video News « Friday, April 8, 2011

    [...] was pretty disastrous, causing YouTube to scale back its live ambitions a bit. In the months since, YouTube has been quietly testing a beta of the live streaming program with approved partners like [...]

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