Bring on the school holiday pageants, local baseball games and armchair poetry slams… YouTube today announced that it is expanding its live video services to the masses. Everyone who has a verified account can now stream live video on YouTube, and verified accounts can now create a Google+ Hangout on Air.
The company today has not given an update on how much take-up the live service has seen overall, but big-name, high-profile live events have proven to be major draws on the platform. The Red Bull Stratos Mission, for example, drew 8 million concurrent viewers.
Live events give Google a way to complement the role it plays as the archive of the long-tail and keeper of viral clips. “Appointment” viewing around live events presents specific kinds of advertising opportunities and helps YouTube position itself more securely as a TV alternative.
Whether that positioning can work in the context of long-tail content that may not attract that many concurrent users is another question. On the other hand, it presents particular opportunities for hyperlocal advertising that complements Google’s pitch as a one-stop marketing shop for smaller businesses.
The YouTube live video service has been in a “beta” mode for the last year, with selected accounts in specific categories like music, gaming, sports, news given the facility for live streams. The service was extended to accounts with at least 100 followers in August of this year. Before that, the limit was 1,000 followers.
YouTube says all verified accounts in good standing are now eligible, regardless of the number of followers.
The feature is getting rolled out internationally over the next few weeks. Those who are interested can check to see if it’s been turned on for them here. Your Video Manager status will also indicate when it’s been turned on.
This service might drive more YouTube users to go through the process of verifying themselves on the platform — thereby giving Google much more data on how people are using the service, and to suggest things to you in particular. Similarly, the other feature getting announced today could help Google drive more users to Google+.
The Google+ Hangout On Air, which lets users create two-way video broadcasts, is another way to drive more usage to Google+.
You can launch a Google+ Hangout on Air directly from the YouTube Live events manager. “This gives you a simple way to reach your fans live and is the ideal way to to invite participants to join your show,” writes Satyajeet Salgar, product manager, and Tim James, software engineer, in their blog post.