With the entrance of Yahoo! to live broadcasting field, and rumors about Ustream / Microsoft flirt , live Internet broadcasting is back in the headlines. There are many players in this market, some doing better than others. Technology is not a major differentiator, however competitors vary in feature set. Let’s see who is doing what.
I focused on main and interesting players today – Ustream, BlogTV, Yahoo! Live, Mogulus and Operator11. Well, sort of – as Operator11 crushed every time I tried to create my show. It is a sad reminder that these platforms are far from being stable, or can be considered in most cases as a professional live broadcasting solution.
Here is a basic feature comparison between these services:
While BlogTV is trading features for ease of use, Mogulus are probably losing potential quick and dirty broadcasters. Yahoo!Live are doing a great job for a pre-alpha product, and Ustream is providing the middle ground between simplicity and feature set.
All platforms support these features:
Chat – all services enable viewers to chat among themselves and with the broadcaster.
Embedded player – another basic feature is to allow users to embed a show player in their own site or blog
Unique URL – all platforms provide a unique URL to each show, which enables direct linking.
Most platforms support the following:
Scheduled shows – an important feature, required in order to create viewers’ habits.
Archive – the ability to watch previous shows
Co-host – a neat feature, that enables broadcasters to add additional hosts to their show.
Twitter and Facebook integration – as notification and viral marketing are keys for drawing audience, almost all platforms, besides Yahoo!, have twitter and Facebook features.
Only one or two platforms support these features:
Offline mixing – this crucial feature, which enables broadcasters to add pre-recorded material, is possible only in Mogulus. The same goes for story board – another strong feature for professional looking show.
Player design – Ustream and Mogulus are offering strong design capabilities, with Mogulus leading the way, and include lower thirds, show’s logo and many other title tools.
Archive download – Ustream and BlogTV are the only platforms that provide downloadable archives. However, only BlogTV provide RSS feed per show. A combination of both features could have been a strong offering for video podcasters.
WordPress.com support – to those of us who are using WordPress.com as their blogging platform – Ustream’s player is the only one that support it. Sad, but true.
From usability point of view, both BlogTV and Yahoo!Live are the simplest ones. No complex configuration is required, and going online is quick and intuitive. Mogulus on the other hand, is tedious and complicated, offering a wide variety of configuration, that is not necessarily needed by most users.
Ustream offers an excellent feature for live broadcast – polls. Broadcasters can add polls to their show on the fly -asking questions relevant to the show. this is a great way to increase interactivity beyond chats. They also support cross promotion – where broadcasters can define which shows are promoted in their page.
An important point that is missing from the table is mobility. BlogTV are the only ones who support mobile broadcasting and viewing, though unlike qik, it is not their primary feature.
Features are not the only key to success in the live broadcasting platform war. In a segment in a constant feature wars, additional parameters such as video quality, support for broadcasters, and content strategy are playing an important role.
In the following posts I will cover these elements, and try to reach a conclusion – which platform offers the best package to users, and who will be the leader in this market.
Update – BlogTV’s Nir Ofir provided additional information, including features such as RSS feeds per show, downloadable shows, and mobile features. Also it is important to note BlogTV ability to create one on one video chats with participants, and file sharing capabilities.