All posts by Brad Hunstable, CEO and Founder

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

Introducing the New Ustream Facebook Application

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When you broadcast live on Ustream we make sure that your event is viewable everywhere – on your Ustream channel page, on our mobile applications, and on embeds in blogs and websites throughout the internet.

Today we are excited to announce that you can showcase your Ustream events on your Facebook Page – giving you yet another place for your fans to view your content. It is viral, it is customizable, and it is absolutely free for everyone.

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Install the Ustream Facebook Application now
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Admin Features

Dead Simple Installation
• Login with your Ustream account and we will automatically populate the application with your content.

Showcase all of your Ustream Content on your Facebook Page
• Live, recorded and upcoming events.

Customize your Application
• Banners, background images, text colors, and more.

Social Features

Build your Crowd
• Viewers can join your crowd with just two clicks to receive email notifications every time you broadcast live.

Remind Me of an Upcoming Event
• Viewers can choose to share  and be reminded via email for an upcoming event with just two clicks.

Increase your Facebook Fans
• Choose to require viewers to like your page on Facebook before accessing your live events.

Invite Friends to Watch
• Viewers can quickly share your live event to their Facebook wall or specifically choose friends to send invitations to.

Launch of Improved Measures to Protect Copyright Holders and Vobile Integration

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We believe it is important to protect content publishers and provide tools to help combat the illegal sharing of copyrighted material. Today, we are releasing improvements to our copyright protection tools, and announcing a full integration with the Vobile fingerprinting solution.

We are 100 percent committed to copyright protection and believe these tools will both support the ongoing needs of copyright holders and the user experience and safety of our community.  We recognized the importance of copyright protection early in the company’s history, and today’s step in launching improved measures underscores our commitment to continue to evolve our tools.

Copyright Protection Updates:

·       Faster submission times for copyright holders
·       Advanced features such as keyword detection
·       Improved user interface for ease-of-use and management

Ustream is committed to gaining feedback from our rights partners to improve the tool further. Additional improvements will be released in the coming weeks.

Vobile

·       Vobile operates the VideoDNA Database, which is “the most comprehensive database of authorized video fingerprints, metadata and business rules from major movie studios, television networks and record labels.” (More info: www.vobileinc.com)

·       Ustream has been integrated with Vobile for six months for Pay Per View events and recently began running the Vobile service across the Ustream platform.

This will be one of two fingerprinting solutions Ustream will utilize to identify and protect video content. The second solution is currently under development with BayTSP and TVAura.

We will continue to work closely with copyright holders and technology partners to ensure copyrights are protected. If you have any questions about how Ustream is proactively protecting copyright, please contact copyright@ustream.tv.

Ustream Inc. announces Joint Venture with Softbank for Ustream Asia

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Dear Ustreamers,

Hope all is well. Today, Ustream Inc. announced our joint venture with Softbank Corp for Ustream Asia. This is a significant milestone for the company as it cements our long-term commitment for the broader Asian market. From the day we founded the company, we always said that Asia was strategic for Ustream. Asia represents an environment where the broadband, mobile, and users conditions are prime for a service like Ustream to flourish. As a result, we are very excited about today’s announcement.

Go Ustream and Go Ustream Asia!

John

Ustream Enters Asia Pacific with Softbank Corp. of Japan

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In this memorable milestone and moment, I would like to provide the color behind the fundraising announcement.

When we first founded Ustream in the summer of 2006, we believed that Asia was a strategic environment for a service like Ustream to flourish. Since then, we’ve made strategic decisions to partner with DCM, our lead series A investor and strong US/Asia VC firm, and now Softbank Corp., a major mobile carrier and internet conglomerate in Asia, to march toward our vision.

What really excites us is the vision that billions of web and mobile users will go-live and watch-live content on Ustream in Asia.

We’re honored to announce this relationship with Softbank and look forward to working with Softbank.

New Product: Social Stream Now Supports Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and AIM

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Part of the richness of going live is being able to tell the people
who care about you what’s currently capturing your interest. As
everyone discovers new ways of connecting on the web, and we’re
excited to announce today the newest, groundbreaking innovation on the
real-time web: aggregation of multiple social networks in one click
through a new feature called Social Stream. This first-of-its kind
interactive tool activates and integrates audiences across Twitter,
Facebook, MySpace and AOL Instant Messenger – all taking place
simultaneously around live shared video experiences.  This feature
provides users to go viral on the web – and takes the concept to a
whole new level.

This feature allows Ustreamers to update their fans, friends and
colleagues across multiple communities around live moments taking
place on Ustream in a single feed—something that has never been done
before. Every comment updates a user’s status on that social network
and includes a link to the live video for others to join and watch.

Social Stream allows four major networks to come together on Ustream:
providing interaction in one cohesive chat, updates in users’
networks, and allowing friends, family and followers to know what they
are doing/watching.

The new Social Stream will be available across the entire Ustream site within the next few
days. We welcome your feedback on this.

‘Stand Up and Take Action!’ with Ustream, Skype and the UN Millennium Campaign

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Ustream was created to enable video communication opportunities for
anyone, and this week we’re powering some important global
conversations that aim to end poverty. We are partnering with the
United Nations Millenium Campaign to foster conversations about the
most important issues facing our generation during “Stand Up and Take
Action!,” the annual mobilization where citizens gather at events
around the world to demand that world leaders eradicate extreme
poverty by 2015.

As part of the program, Ustream is collaborating with Skype to enable
video calls about global poverty between world leaders, celebrities
and citizens globally to be broadcast on the internet live via
Ustream’s interactive video broadcasting platform. The Skype calls
taking place between world leaders, celebrities, and citizens globally
will be broadcast on the Stand Up Take Action! page on Facebook and on
Ustream here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/stand-up-against-poverty

Those participating in the Skype video calls and Ustream broadcasts
include former Irish President Mary Robinson as well as African
entertainers Femi Kuti and Angelique Kidjo. The calls will take place
throughout this week, leading up to the Stand Up and Take Action!
Weekend, Oct. 16-18, when millions of citizens will take part in
activities demanding that world leaders keep their promises to achieve
the Millenium Development Goals.

We hope you will join in the conversations through Facebook, Social
Stream (Twitter) or Ustream chat.To learn more about getting involved
in Stand Up and Take Action events happening across the globe, please
visit www.standagainstpoverty.org.