Five Free Services for Broadcasting Yourself Live

People have been broadcasting live video to the Internet for years now, first mainstreamed by Jennicam. Since then, it’s become primarily a vehicle for teleconferencing, group chat, weather stations and, of course, pornography. The team recently made a splash by breaking it out of the bedroom thanks to technology like EVDO cellular data networks.

While it’s exciting to think that now anyone can be a broadcast network, the reality is that without a lot of promotional moxie or a name-brand star, you’ll be lucky to get famous among fifteen people. Natalie Portman could certainly draw a crowd, but unfortunately for horny nerds everywhere, Valleywag’s report she would start lifecasting turned out to be a hoax.

But that won’t stop emo teens, new media mavens and entrepreneurs from trying! So here are five choices for broadcasting your life.

Mogulus: This one offers probably the best tools. It allows for mixing multiple video sources, collaboration between users on a single channel and built in graphics and effects. If you’re actually thinking about starting a live network on the cheap, and not just chatting with friends, this is where you want to be. (See our initial coverage.)

BlogTV: The company announced its new embeddable player at the Supernova conference in San Francisco this week, meaning that you can bring your show to your site. It’s also broadcasting discussions live from the conference. There are plenty of features to play with, but dropping by the site today I found it deadly slow. This service has a strong area of mobile features so that you can “LifeStream” on the go or watch someone else’s show on your phone. Of course, there’s also an embeddable player to put on your blog and a new Facebook app. The most popular channel is Mashuptown which features music video mashups and reports on the scene. This is where the geeks are hanging out, with Chris Pirillo hosting the most popular channel, followed by streams from Zooomr and Leo Laporte. Like the other offerings, there’s archiving and embeds as well.

Stickam: This site is based on communities, and besides letting you broadcast, also enables video chat. There’s even a section for featured entertainers. Here, the top viewed videos are generally from fit, young women in minimal clothing and the amount of tossled hair and garishly printed hoodies says “hipsters welcome.”

There’s plenty more to choose from, like the group-chat-focused Paltalk, all-business Veodia and the sociable Operator11. AT&T is going to support phone-to-phone video streams, creating even more possibilities. It’s nice to see this sudden burst of new development in the field, as I remember suggesting to my boss back in 1998 that we could be webcasting poetry slams with RealMedia at a blazing 56 kbps.