Mogulus and Ustream are two of the most interesting web based live video streaming services available to budding live web broadcasters.
Together with other similar (but not quite as accessible) tools such as Stickam, Operator11, Kyte.tv, they offer infinite bandwidth and storage space to broadcast your live video stream over the Internet with no audience limits.
Almost everyone interested in live video streaming has asked me at one point or another whether Mogulus is better than Ustream and what I would recommend using.
While the others also have very interesting features and capabilities, my preference so far has gone to Ustream and Mogulus for a number of different reasons:
- They have a more professional and credible marketing strategy.
- They have specific feature sets.
- Both companies have made themselves open to conversations and exchanges.
- They have provided direct support.
- They have done their best to engage in a sincere two-way conversation while trying to further improve their product.
It is possible that some of the competing services I am not focusing on here, have made significant improvements and changes to their services, and that they have surpassed the two services I have selected for comparison, in some specific respect.
If you have access to this type of information, please feel free to contribute your own comments and opinions at the end of this article.
Here is my personal review of how Ustream.tv and Mogulus.com stand against each other on all of the critical functionalities, features, and management aspects of their free live video broadcasting services.
Choosing which one is most appropriate between the two for your own use is really a matter of cases; it all depends on what you want to do.
While Ustream is a perfect match for those seeking simplicity and immediacy as they focus mostly on purely live events, Mogulus’ ideal users may include web TV channel providers wanting to focus on creating “compilation-based” thematic channels.
Or those people who have a deep interest in using multiple cameras and for having live video guests on-air while providing a more pro-tv-like viewer experience.
Ustream Vs. Mogulus: Live Video Streaming Challenge
Ustream: Ustream integrates a full text chat facility that can also be easily embedded on any web site or blog web page. The embedded text chat facility suffers from few minor hiccups including text chat login and the text chat help system which is all automatic. If they work they are fine, but when they don’t it’s real frustration.
No auto-URL support (when you type a URL in the chat it automatically becomes a clickable URL) no chat saving or history capabilities.
Mogulus: No text chat facility available.
Audio / Video Controls
Ustream: Ustream provides easy and well organized controls to start and stop recording, to start and stop broadcasting as well a specific facility to monitor reception and fine controls for video quality, frame rate and audio volume and quality too.
Mogulus: Mogulus provides only the basic default A/V controls that are embedded by default within the Flash player. There is no additional interface layer or control, outside of a video quality setting that allows for three possible levels:
Ustream: A full audio and video recording facility is available inside Ustream since the early days. For many independent online publishers this is a vital tool, especially if, like in this case, it allows me to take my video recordings out to other video sharing sites without too many problems.
Recordings are saved in .flv (Flash video) video format and with the appropriate procedures this can be easily converted to other formats, edited and uploaded to major video sharing sites.
Ustream does an excellent job also of archiving and making it easy to access all recorded video clips to both the broadcaster as well as to his/her video community.
Mogulus: Mogulus has added recording only recently (Sept. 14th 07) and judging from the positioning and accessibility of this feature, full recording is not really as much a key priority for Mogulus as it is for Ustream.
In fact, while Ustream makes it easy for you to record and download any recordings of your video broadcasts you do, Mogulus had hidden its recording facility under a hard-to-remember keyboard shortcut until two weeks ago.
Now that it has made recording fully available through a new addition to the interface it prohibits you from being able to download such video recordings to your own computer and to edit or re-publish them to other sites.
Mogulus wants to build its walled garden of quality content coming from its own publishers, but while the idea may hold promise, harsh reality shows user frustration and the broadcaster circumventing Mogulus restrictions by recording the shows in open formats via self-managed means (as by using Techsmith Camtasia).
On the positive side Mogulus makes it easy to re-broacast any of the live programming you have recorded and to easily schedule it inside an easy to manage playlist of videos.
Mogulus: Mogulus was born and designed with the idea of re-constructing the scenario and facilities available to a traditional small TV broadcaster, including a small video switcher facility allowing the broadcaster to easily cue in and send on-air any other selected live Mogulus broadcaster.
Ustream: Does not offer this capability natively. To be able to do so you need to add additional low-cost commercial software like WebcamMax. It is true that if multiple cameras are connected to the same broadcasting computer, it is possible to simply switch from one to the other.
What is not possible is to invite other online video broadcasters to join into a show and to mix them into the live show.
Ustream: You as a broadcaster have a lot of control over the video quality of your stream as Ustream provides you with fine controls for video frame (1-25) rate as well as for video compression level (1-90).
In the near future, and already now on Robin Good TV and a few selected other Ustream video streaming channels, new video encoding components provide video quality that is indeed significantly better (smoother motion, higher frame rate) than what competing services are offering now.
Mogulus: Only the basics are provided here with a control slider offering only three positions to control video quality: low, mid, high. It is not specified within Mogulus what variables are affected and how by this control.
Titling and Branding
Mogulus: All. Mogulus goes out of its way in making it as easy as possible for the live video broadcaster to insert titles, scrolling credits, information ticker, a station logo and more to fully brand and professionally title all broadcasts as it is done in the mainstream television industry.
If you want your live video streaming channel to take advantage of these advanced features Mogulus really has all you need in this direction and keeps improving it day by day.
Ustream: None. Ustream does not offer any facility to title the live video stream as it is being broadcast, nor it offers any way to easily brand one’s own video channel.
Mogulus: Mogulus provides a full dedicated facility to create and edit video playlists. The video clips can be either uploaded directly from your computer or they can be selected from video clips already available on YouTube.
This allows any Mogulus broadcaster to easily compile quality thematic channels with any number of pre-selected video clips and to easily program them for broadcast into scheduled compilations.
Ustream: On the interactivity front Ustream has long been providing viewers with the possibility to chat back, rate, comment and join broadcasters via a series of simple to use links available on each broadcaster web page on Ustream.
More recently Ustream has also added a live polling facility and an applaudometer which was meant to provide viewers with a real-time feature to express their appreciation of a show at any moment during it.
Mogulus: None. No text chat, no comments, no rating or polling facilities are now available on Mogulus.
Ustream: Historically, Ustream has always been, very simple, straightforward, and easy to use. Performance, outside short server upgrade pauses that Ustream has endured in the past, has always been very good. Fast and responsive just like you would expect it.
No heavy interface to load, no heavy processing or complex code to be run on your machine.
Mogulus: As Mogulus had built a bad reputation for itself when it came to performance and accessibility, it has now been working hard in the last two months to significantly improve these critical aspects of its web-based live video streaming service.
While in the past, many computers could not handle the processing requirements that Mogulus would hand down to your innocent machine, now things are indeed much better.
Mogulus performance is much more snappy and moving around the different modules and facilities is now within the reach of most any recent computer.
Ustream: Free. I really wonder how they are going to pay back for all the good they are giving out, but what I can say for sure is that they have not charged me a dime so far for all that I have done with their service.
Mogulus: Free for now. Paid in the future depending on traffic and bandwidth use.
Though Mogulus has not published or officialized anywhere its business model strategy for the future, both in my original interview with Max Haot, CEO of Mogulus and in later unofficial talks I have had with him, he has confirmed that Mogulus will offer both options.
There will be a free option that will insert ads inside programming, every so many minutes (this is really something I do not welcome at all) as well as a paid one based on the amount of bandwidth your live video streaming channel needs.
Ustream: Ustream has strong community features built-in into its service since it inception. People can comment, join a broadcaster, rate, comment and send messages directly to each other.
Though a visual shareable widget showcasing each broadcaster own community (as MyBlogLog does) would be a much welcome and useful addition, Ustream has certainly at this time a strong lead in providing each broadcaster with tools and facilities to further involve, inform and market video content to your own community of fans.
Ustream: The editorial newsroom behind Ustream does a heck of a job daily in spotting great live shows and bringing them to the home page of Ustream, while also promoting, at their own cost and expense the best and most interesting shows broadcast by their community.
I have always been very impressed with Ustream ability to market and promote my own programming without me even asking for it. While I am sure they cannot do this for everyone, I see them extremely open to user contributions and advice and therefore if you have a great show and want to promote it on Ustream you need only to let them know.
Follow the links provided in the Ustream home page and look at how other broadcasters are promoting their own shows. Collect some good pictures or design a good promotion box for your own show and send it in to the Ustream guys.
They will be more than happy to gve visibility to anything new that is interesting and unique.
Mogulus: Mogulus has a “Watch” page in which you see listed some of its “top” broadcasters. Unfortunately there has been very little promotion for the individual broadcasters so far outside of the individual posts that Mogulus CEO Max Haot makes from time to time on the official Mogulus blog.
The Watch page is also accessible only to registered users that are logged in, something that Ustream on the other hand does not impose on its viewers.
Sharing – Distribution – Embed Player
Ustream: A standard embeddable player, resizable to most any size you need is always available for any Ustream video recording you complete. Ustream provides with a piece of code that you need only to copy and paste in your web page.
The embedded player provided by Ustream has a trasparent background, and providers viewers controls that include audio muting, number of viewers and the option to pause the video stream.
Mogulus: Mogulus does allow to share and embed your own video channel using a standard widget-like approach very similar to Ustream. Mogulus embeddable player is not as flexible as Ustream and requires a little more setting up to be configured to work the way you want to.
What is next to impossible to do natively with Mogulus is recording a clip during a live stream and make that video clip available on other video sharing sites like YouTube. Mogulus does not provide a downloadable file, and the video recordings you complete can only be used inside a Mogulus channel.
Ustream: Great help and prompt feedback characterizes the people at Ustream support. They always go out of their way to help out and they do listen openly to all feedback and criticism provided.
Mogulus: The support team at Mogulus is also responsive and attentive to feedback but it appears less reactive, and probably a bit overloaded by too many issues to deal with.
Technical suggestions and feature advice I have provided in the past has always been taken into serious consideration and more than one of my desires has already turned itself into a new Mogulus feature.
Notwithstanding these good notes I have caught Mogulus jumping a few of its own set deadlines, delivery times and feature release schedule.
This doesn’t mean they are not making progress, but it certainly signals that at least for the recent past they have had incurred in lots of organizational and development issues.
When Is It Better to Use Mogulus and When Is It Better to Use Ustream?
- For live shows with you, the presenter only, nothing beats Ustream in my humble opinion.
- For live shows where you want to coordinate and broadcast multiple reporters from different places, nothing beats Mogulus.
- For aggregating video clips from different sources and to create highly thematic non-live video content channels nothing beats Splashcast, but Mogulus comes as a great second.
- For doing your own live show in which you want to play video clips of news, or other contributed content in between your own introductions and comments, Mogulus is the tool to adopt.
My personal feeling is that both these live broadcasting video services have their use and application and their unique characteristics make them not direct competitors but rather complementary tools for different uses.
For those of you more interested in creating
looking web television channels, especially if you want to do branding, use pro-looking titles and captions as well as having multiple cameras contributing or live guests connecting from other locations, Mogulus is positively the service choice.
Mogulus is also the service of choice for those of you, who may prefer to create on-demand thematic video chanels where selected video clips are aggregated from selected sources.
On the other hand, Ustream is the service of choice for those looking for a simple, straightforward, immediate and easy to use live video streaming service that does all of the basics, provides fine controls for audio and video quality and gives you everything you need to share, download and republish your best video recordings wherever you want.
Ustream is also great for impromptu streaming as in launching rapidly a live video session from the middle of nowhere with just a couple of clicks. This is why I have selected it always in the past when operating with my mobile live video streaming setup, the Robinpad.
Depending on what you need to do, you may find either one of these two great live video streaming services better fitting your own online broadcasting needs.
Originally written by Robin Good for Master New Media and titled: “Ustream vs. Mogulus: Which Live Video Streaming And Broadcasting Service Is Better?” on October 8th 2007. Some Rights Reserved.
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