All posts by Brad Hunstable, CEO and Founder

We’re Two Billion Strong, Thanks to You!

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Six years ago, we started Ustream with the mission to bring live video broadcasting technology to the entire world. Today, we are the world’s most scalable and social platform for live video streaming, enabling millions of content creators to reach global audiences and share experiences in real-time. We were born in the tech capitol of the world — San Francisco — and in celebration of Innovation Month in our big city, we have some exciting news to share!

Thanks to all our Ustreamers across the globe, we’ve recently hit a company milestone: Our platform has powered more than two billion viewer-hours! Consider what two billion hours actually looks like… Continue reading

Ustream: Fastest Growing in US! Inc 500

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This week, Inc. 500 announced its 2013 Inc. 5000 List of the “Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.” We are thrilled to announce that Ustream was ranked #343 overall!

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Congratulations to all companies ranked; we are delighted to be in great company. As the Founder & CEO, I want to personally thank our dedicated Ustream employees and our loyal Ustream broadcasters! Continue reading

Two sides of a stream: SaaS vs. Advertising

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Two sides of a stream: SaaS vs. Advertising

We’re intrigued by today’s news from Google’s I/O conference about how YouTube is making their beta live video service more available to certain select parters (those with more than 1000 followers and are selected through an application process).   While some view this as a competitive threat to Ustream, we see this development as complementary and it certainly validates the significance of LIVE as the next wave in online video.

Since 2007, Ustream has built an open technology platform that allows anyone to instantly transmit live broadcasts over the internet, using anything from a simple mobile phone app to the most sophisticated digital camera.  Many cameras like those from Panasonic, Samsung and Logitech now come with Ustream built-in.  It’s literally “point, shoot, and stream live to Ustream.” Continue reading

New Media vs. Old Media: Which Side Did You Partake In Yesterday’s Play-By-Play in Boston?

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Yesterday, we at Ustream — along with millions across the globe — were taken in by the events that quickly unfolded as the second suspect of the Boston Marathon was captured.  Last night, we saw heightened engagement from a scanner that surfaced on Ustream (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ma-rt-9-window-cam), which enabled nearly 2.5 million people to share this live experience.  At its peak around 8:15/8:30pm Eastern, over 265k viewers were watching/listening concurrently.  Even more eye-opening was that nearly half the viewers were tuning in via mobile devices.

Ustream was created six years ago to help bridge the gap between the physical and virtual live experience, and we take pride in our ability to connect people to the things they value most.  We highly value Internet freedom, and we’ve seen impactful citizen journalists utilize our platform throughout the years.  Yesterday’s events were quite the validation of how things have quickly evolved — consumers crave instant gratification and social media has given them access and insight unlike ever before.  Over the course of the last 24 hours, a number of news articles have acknowledged how social media has come to the forefront for consumption of information, particularly in times like this.

Our mission at Ustream is to empower anyone, anywhere with a digital camera to broadcast live and share their experiences with the world in real-time.   This mission has put Ustream front and center of many breaking news stories, such as the Arab Spring, the uprising in Syria, Hurricane Sandy, and many other important events.  We strongly believe live broadcasting on the internet is a force for open, transparent communication.  If we are ever asked by a law enforcement agency to remove a channel for fear of endangering a public safety officer or the public, we would honor that request.  In this instance there was no such request.

The police scanner that surfaced on Ustream yesterday was broadcast over one of our free accounts via our open platform.  We routinely monetize these free channels as they are created, and we don’t proactively sell ads against them.  Rather, their costs are automatically offset by ad networks.  Ustream has processes in place to respond to any violations of Ustream’s Terms of Service (including copyright infringement notices) and any requests from the law authorities.

Where did you tune in yesterday?

For any questions or more information, please contact Joellen Ferrer, Ustream’s Communication Director at jferrer@ustream.tv or @joellenferr

In case you missed the NAB Show…

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This year’s annual NAB Show, appropriately themed around the metamorphosis of broadcast media, centered heavily on social media and consumer engagement.  This year, I had the pleasure of hosting an NAB Info Session about the “Reinvention of Live Media,” where I got a chance to update the audience about what we’ve got in the hopper at Ustream.

We’re in the middle of a major shift in consumer habits, as social media has created the expectation of instant gratification and real-time connectivity.  All of us in the broadcasting space need to adapt and be nimble, in order to stay relevant and innovative. I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done over the years to create such a robust, yet widely adopted platform to connect our global community to the things they care about. The Ustream Cloud Platform fuses live content with social media, providing the most engaging shared experiences for both broadcasters and viewers. Check out how “fans are rushing the stage,” now that Ustream has provided a means to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual live experience

We also put together a unique panel of our customers to chat about their use-cases, which I feel really helped to connect the dots between live video streaming and consumer engagement. The industries ran the gamut — education (Arizona State University), media (POPSugar), religion (Saint Monica Catholic Church), non-profit (explore.org), and sports (Premium Sports) — but the goals for each one all centered around connectivity and audience engagement.  Watch it here:

Video streaming by Ustream

San Francisco Bay Area locals may recognize Lisa Kim in the above video stream, who was moderating the customer panel.  She spent many years anchoring and reporting, most recently at NBC 11.  Lisa spent some time with us at the NAB Show, as we created an all-day live show last Tuesday to give viewers a flavor of the showroom floor.  From this, we captured a variety of content from companies and attendees, including product demos and interviews. Click the “Ustream Livepack” tab and choose from a variety of videos from the day:

Free desktop streaming application by Ustream

I also spent some time walking the floor throughout the course of the week, and I couldn’t help but notice several consistent topics of conversation: 4K, second screen monetization, and broadcast distribution were the most popular thought starters. While Ustream doesn’t necessarily play directly in these areas, it’s certainly something we, as a company, need to innovate towards.  For example, TVs will continue to get smarter and sharper, and I see a future where viewers are seamlessly watching Ustream content in whichever quality will eventually overtake 4K.

As with any major conference, there are a number of events off the showroom floor.  We sponsored the Technology Awards Luncheon, where the National Association of Broadcasters gave recognition to some of the most innovative people in the industry. NASA Administrator Charles Boldin gave the keynote speech and talked about some of their upcoming missions, including plans to capture an asteroid, bring it closer to earth, and launch a manned ship to it.  Hear him talk more about this incredible mission (beamed in via satellite in true NASA fashion):

Video streaming by Ustream

Over the years, we’ve done some incredible things with NASA, including live video streaming their ‘Curiosity’ rover landing on Mars for over 3 million captivated viewers last year.  Even more recently, Ustream enabled more than 7.5 million viewers to watch the Russian meteor fly-by live through NASA’s stream.  You no longer have to be an astronaut to see the surface of Mars — and soon enough, you’ll be seeing an asteroid-capture!

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We’ve got much more to come, but in the meantime, you can read more about our latest news in our Press Box: www.ustream.tv/press

Join Ustream as we celebrate Veterans Day

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Please join the Ustream community this Sunday, Nov. 11, in celebrating our country’s veterans.

Ustream began with a vision to connect deployed troops separated from their families and friends; enabling a soldier in Afghanistan to watch his sister’s recital in Iowa or for that same soldier to broadcast to his loved ones and tell them he’s okay. We are proud to be a veteran-owned and operated company whose technology and products today connect tens of millions of people every month around shared broadcast experiences.

This Sunday, we hope you will join Ustream in sharing your own tribute to veterans. Using the Ustream mobile app for iPhone or Android, a webcam, or a professional video camera; add the #UstreamVets hashtag to your broadcast title and submit your info to our editors here so that we can share your event with the world. Visit us on Veterans Day for an all-day, worldwide celebration of courage, commitment, and sacrifice.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Stream a thank you message to a veteran(s), ones you know or not.
  • Broadcast your hometown Veterans Day parade or flag raising ceremony.
  • Go live wherever you’re celebrating the traditional 11 a.m. moment of silence.
  • Share a reflection of a veteran who has made an impact on your life.
  • Read an open letter to veterans.
  • Perform a song inspired by veterans.
  • Interview veterans and have them share their own story.

Use one of the ideas above or submit your own along your channel in the form below. If you need help setting up your channel, you can go to Ustream University or fill in your contact info below and a Ustream editor will get in touch.

Thank you,

Brad Hunstable
Founder/CEO, Ustream
U.S. Army veteran

Streaming Wars: Ustream thinks YouTube’s numbers not so Stratos-pheric

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“And since we’re in debate season, I’m willing to debate YouTube at Streaming Media West about their arithmetic” – Brad Hunstable, CEO
Over the past few weeks, several large live broadcasts on the Internet highlight the tremendous popularity and growth of live events.  Whether it was the Mars Rover landing, the first Presidential debate or a live PSY concert from Seoul, live broadcasting is on a roll at Ustream.  Our chief competitor in live video, YouTube, has run into a few bumps in the road lately.  In the face of huge demand, YouTube goes down when pounded with requests for live streams while still claiming “record breaking” audiences. This forced them to use a third party CDN, Akamai.

With all three of their most recent large broadcasts, including the Red Bull Stratos Jumper, YouTube’s claims keep getting bigger and bigger, and frankly harder to believe.  In the case of the RedBull Jumper, YouTube claims they had 8 million concurrent views, the largest live broadcast “ever.”  Dan Rayburn of Streaming Media called out this claim in his blog yesterday. He pointed out that YouTube’s assertion is probably off by a factor of 8 according to Akamai’s public reports.

Meanwhile, Ustream is able to easily scale to millions of simultaneous viewers.

During the most recent Presidential debate on October 3rd, Youtube was unable to support the load.  Ustream easily supported over 3.5 million views during the debate.   The next day, Ustream streamed 1.5 million viewers for a live concert by PSY, the viral music phenomenon of “Gangnam Style” fame.  Ustream received double the viewership of Youtube and ultimately Youtube crashed around the world.

We will follow-up with more posts about Ustream’s world class infrastructure and the differences from YouTube.

Hugo Awards: An apology and explanation

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NOTE: Post updated below 9/3

On Sunday night, The Hugo Awards were streaming live on Ustream (The Hugo’s are like the Academy Awards for science fiction). Very unfortunately at 7:43 p.m. Pacific time, the channel was automatically banned in the middle of an acceptance speech by author Neil Gaiman due to “copyright infringement.” This occurred because our 3rd party automated infringement system, Vobile, detected content in the stream that it deemed to be copyrighted. Vobile is a system that rights holders upload their content for review on many video sites around the web.  The video clips shown prior to Neil’s speech automatically triggered the 3rd party system at the behest of the copyright holder.

Our editorial team and content monitors almost immediately noticed a flood of livid Twitter messages about the ban and attempted to restore the broadcast. Unfortunately, we were not able to lift the ban before the broadcast ended. We had many unhappy viewers as a result, and for that I am truly sorry.  As a long-time Firefly, Stargate and Game of Thrones fan among others, I am especially disheartened by this.

As background, our system works like this in order to support a large volume of broadcasters using our free platform. Users of our paid, ad-free Pro Broadcasting service “NOTE: UPDATED CLARIFICATION” ‘and those free broadcasters who notify Ustream in advance they have copyrights permissions (Ustream’s messaging to our broadcaster community how this process works is inadequate.  We are resolving this now)’ are automatically white listed to avoid situations like this and receive hands-on client support.

I have suspended use of this third-party system until we are able to recalibrate the settings so that we can better balance the needs of broadcasters, viewers, and copyright holders.  While we are committed to protecting copyright, we absolutely must ensure our amazing and democratizing platform allows legal broadcasters to Ustream their events and shows.  This is our first and foremost obligation to our users and community.  Additionally, we need to ensure fair use of copyright as permitted by the law.

Ustream is committed to promoting Internet freedom, and we will strive to continually improve our service to provide the best, legal viewing experience possible.

Go Ustream!

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My Dearest Ustreamers,

Hope all is well. Today, we announced an additional financing of $6m from our existing lead investors, Softbank and DCM. The timing is perfect for the company and for me to announce that I will be returning to my entrepreneurial roots.

I want to say from the bottom of my heart that I love Ustream. I thank everyone for their support over the past 4.5 years. Ustream is about allowing anyone to broadcast live over the Internet while interacting with their family, friends, fans or following.

I will stay on as Chairman of the Board and continue to support the Company.

Keep streaming Ustreamers.

Sincerely and humbly,

John Ham
Ustream Founder

Ustream seals Joint Venture with Korea Telecom for Ustream Korea with $10m investment

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Ustreamers,

Hope all is well. Today, we are happy to announce that Ustream has reached an agreement with Korea Telecom to launch Ustream Korea as part of our Joint Venture for Ustream Asia with Softbank Corp. in Japan. Korea Telecom will also invest an additional $10m into the company.

More importantly, we are excited to continue to march toward our vision of bringing the Ustream service to Asia in a steadfast and unwavering manner over a long period of time.

We thank our wonderful users and look forward to growing the Ustream service in Korea.

Best,

John