24/7 reality online TV show Justin.tv has has turned into a bit of a mini-phenomenon since launching just two months ago. Their apartment was raided by the police, and they were later evicted by their landlord. They were on the Today Show. Justin has hung out with famous rappers. They’ve taken extravagant dares from their audience, and a crowd always surrounds Justin and his ubiquitous camera. Hundreds of adolescent viewers watched (sort of) as Justin had sex on the show, although users were left with a black screen and silence until the Justin.tv team started playing porn music. The site has been far more successful so far than the founders anticipated.
The site is so successful, in fact, that many people have said they want to start their own real-life television shows. Startup Ustream launched just in time to take advantage of this – they give users the tools to easily duplicate the Justin.tv experience.
Today, Justin.tv is launching its own network to allow users to create and publish their own shows.
The site has been redesigned to improve usability and in preparation for expansion into a network of live video streamers. Ustream.tv currently has a fully open lifecaster network, with profile pages and all, but Justin.tv is expanding more slowly.
Each Monday for the following weeks, Justin.tv will be opening their network to a new live video casters, serving as examples for the different ways fans will be able to use live video. Some may be like Justin Kan, with a now more affordable mobile hat came based on off the shelf hardware. Others will stream from their computers or static cams set in the public. They’ve got a list of the upcoming casters but are keeping the names secret for now.
Each caster will get their own fully skinable page on Justin.tv, complete with vanity URL (http://justin.tv/name). They’ll also get the all the new features released on Justin’s page: a more stable chat room, calendar, new player, and clip voting system. To handle the relatively high volume of simultaneous chatters Justin gets (150 – 600), Justin.tv switched the chat room over to an IRC back end. To keep viewers updated, Casters will be able to post their show schedule on their own calendar module (Kiko?) and feature their most recent Twitters.
Their new player lets viewers get the live feed and navigate archive clips in a simple calendar interface in the same player. Every clip can be called by a permalink and embedded. It also features a somewhat unique take on user generated advertising. The little film reel in the lower left corner of the screen links to somewhat quirky and at times irreverent custom made advertisements by Justin Kan.
Realizing not everything they tape is pure entertainment gold, Justin.tv has implemented a Reddit-like real-time voting system called “Tips.” Tips allows any user logged into their chat account to submit the current streaming video to a leader board, where other logged in users can vote up the clips they like. The power of your vote will be impacted by your user karma, which varies based on how successful the videos you “Tip” are and how long you watch the shows.
Although the network isn’t completely open, it’s plain to see that Justin.tv is testing the waters before opening the site to everyone.