The social side of online video is becoming an increasingly important tool in demonstrating the divergence between traditional broadcasts and Web-only broadcasts. Facebook is now taking advantage of this sector of the market with its new Live Stream Box. Ustream is the first company to take advantage of the Facebook Connect feature.
Social Networking Features
Recent months have brought news of a couple of innovations in the field of matching up online video and social networking. The new Xbox 360 Sky Player will allow fans to watch football matches together using on-screen avatars. While both Joost and Hulu have recently unveiled new elements to their services which are designed to increase user interaction during programs. And CBS Interactive introduced Social Viewing Rooms to bring the idea of sitting around watching TV together in a living room to the Web.
Live Stream Box
Now comes a new feature which brings a similar concept to Facebook, the world’s largest social network with in excess of 200 million members. It’s called Live Stream Box and it enables Facebook users to watch a streaming video event, comment and chat while it is happening, and see their messages appearing both alongside the video and on their Facebook profile.
The feature was first tested during CNN’s streaming coverage of Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration earlier this year. Since then it has been used for Jonas Brothers concerts, some of the sites covering the Oscars, and the NBA All-Star game. With these tests proving successful, the feature is now being rolled out to anyone who wants in.
Open To All
According to the Facebook Developers Blog, any Web site owner can use the feature to enable Facebook users to share in a video event. This can be any “live streaming” occasion including “concerts, speeches, sporting events, webcasts, TV shows, presentations, or webinars.
The Live Stream Box is built to handle millions of viewers at a time, which is a good thing seeing as 1.5 million unique posts were made using the feature during the aforementioned Jonas Brothers concert. The dual posting on the Live Stream Box and Facebook itself means video events can go viral really quickly.
All content owners are welcome to participate but Ustream is the first video site to take advantage of the feature. Ustream is expecting high demand, however, and so has set some limits on who can get involved. People who think they can benefit from the functionality of the new Ustream Live Stream Box have to apply to have it turned on. There is a free, ad-supported version with limited slots available, and a white-label version which requires a one-time development fee of $15,000.
Social networking is big business, as the success of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other sites shows. It’s good to see online video embracing social networking features to give it an added advantage over traditional television. The idea of watching the goggle box with a large group of people may be quite old-fashioned but it’s now helping a new generation of content providers connect with their audience.