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Live streaming provider Ustream is adding another possible revenue stream with the introduction of new Premium Memberships. For $3.99 a month, Ustream viewers will now get unlimited access to any live stream on the site without having to watch pre-roll ads before the video loads.
While those live streaming on Ustream have long had the ability to deliver ad-free broadcasting for a monthly fee, this is the first time the company has enabled end users to opt out of advertising. And believe it or not, the premium subscription option was widely requested by users that would prefer to pay a monthly fee than to have to site through a 15- or 30-second ad before a live stream loaded.
According to a company spokesperson, Ustream received a number of requests for such a service, especially from viewers who were interested in real-time educational channels such as the wildly popular Shiba Inu puppy cam or the Decorah Eagle live webcam. That latter channel is now the most-viewed Ustream channel of all time, with more than 120 million views since being launched earlier this year.
In addition to commercial-free viewing, users will have their comments highlighted in bold and have a “premium” watermark next to their name when they participate in chats alongside live videos. They will also get a premium icon on their user page.
Ustream is just one of many startups to rely on such a freemium business model, in which they introduce a free or ad-supported service for consumers but later add a subscription model that strips out ads or provides additional features. Pandora, for instance, allows its users to listen in to its music streams for free on an ad-supported basis, but users can get higher-quality audio and unlimited streams without ads for $36 a year.