I first started noticing the live social media space a year ago. Frankly, I haven’t felt like much occurred in this “market” since that time. Granted, I’ve personally taken the time to jot down thoughts on the “Truman Show” style Justin.TV on a couple occasions but that’s only because I find lifecasting to be very bizarre, particularly from an end-user perspective.
I saw today, however, that Ustream.tv had a great week. Digital Media Wire reported today that the company raised its first round of outside capital to the tune of $11M. That’s a large first institutional round and having the likes of DCM and Labrador (key funders behind Pandora and Yardbarker) is impressive. Several folks have been blogging about Ustream this week including NewTeeVee and their stats from the past few months are noteworthy–particularly the amount of broadcasts being developed daily (8k – 10k per day.)
When I first heard about Ustream a year ago, I interpreted it more along the lines of lifecasting sites like Justin.TV, Stickam or ManiaTV. They were catching on in the tech crowd with people like Cris Pirillo who streamed their own shows from offices or on the road at trade shows–a podcasting site, effectively, with some nice social networking tools and a decent, interactive video player.
The live social media play is a tricky one to get right: it requires a well-executed blend of community, nicely produced and interesting content and reliable, sufficient quality distribution of the video. It also requires some well-known and compelling personalities to jump on board and help grow that community. According to the DMW post today, Barack Obama, John McCain, Chris Brown and others are occasionally using the site now for broadcasts. That’s certainly a start…
The live social media space has been gaining momentum for several years now. Podcasts first hit the Internet 5+ years ago, YouTube exploded on to the scene in 2005, fatter pipes for distribution are readily available as are more sophisticated and affordable video players. While some players like ManiaTV have taken meaningful outside capital during the past three years, the timing may finally be right for a player like Ustream to begin truly defining this market with marketable broadcasters and an audience ready to pay attention.