M1 Langues, Cultures, Affaires
Present, explain and discuss the impact of online live streaming video social networking
like Stickam, Blog.tv, Justin.tv or Ustream.
Source: Live video streaming tools. August 17th 2008. Robin Good’s Master New Media. Web. November 23th 2009.
Master Asie-Pacifique 2009-2010
ANG212122 Culture et Civilisation : Application théoriques
“There is an App for that” said Apple in its advertising campaign for Iphone applications few months
ago. Then, since that more than hundred thousands of those applications are available now, the slogan changed
into “There is an App for everything”. Maybe we should say the same thing for all the applications available on
internet. Originally made for sharing information on research in scientific and military fields, Internet became
recently a great platform for sharing also videos and music, for selling goods and services, or for communicating
with other people. In a very short resume: for everything. It became nowadays a source of working and
entertainment, and sometimes both with the advent of blog communities, social networks, micromedia or live
What is more interesting with these new tools of communication – and especially for live streaming
platforms – is that their founders had never expected to see their concepts gaining such popularity, like the ones
who founded internet. For example: Brad Hunstable, Johnny Ham, and Dr. Gyula Feher, the founders of
Ustream.tv, initially wanted to help their friends who had went to war to communicate with their families via
photo exchanges and live videos. Or Justin Kan, founder of Justin.tv, who got noticed by the whole United States
as he broadcasted his life 24/7 via a laptop-backpack system and a webcam attached to his cap. Some people
even saw in it his own version of the movie ‘the Truman Show’. Now, Ustream.tv and Justin.tv became large
communities where people can – among many other options – broadcast and watch live videos. And their
popularity has even begun to exceed video sharing websites like Youtube or Dailymotion. But for what reasons
exactly? What characteristics made them much better than the other tools of communication? Let us see what are
their features and all the impacts that online live streaming video social networking have more or less in
Ustream.tv, Livestream, Justin.tv, Stickam, Blog.tv, Kyte, Livevideo… and the list is even more longer.
Lots of online live streaming video social networking developed in less than five years, and this phenomenon
still seems to progress. Their features? One of them is that they all allow people to watch live broadcasted videos
contained in their website. Most of these videos are television news, interviews, scientific programmes, politic
debates, etc. But also there are also diffusions of high school sports, weddings, concerts, grade school events,
local conferences, educational shows and births. Justin.tv outstands from the others as it particularly broadcast
live professional sport games: not only football or rugby championship, but also baseball games, basket-ball,
judo, moto-cross races, etc. It offers the opportunity to people to watch all kinds of sport games that they often
can not watch on cable television. As for Ustream.tv, it became famous last year during the whole American
presidential election campaign: nearly all the main candidates broadcasted their own videos in which they
presented their political programme. But that is not all. Ustream.tv, like the other live streaming websites, offers
a wide choice of professional or amateur videos that are classified into categories. So we can see from the top of
the homepage the categories ‘All live’, ‘Mobile’, ‘Sports’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Gaming’, ‘Music’, ‘Animal’ and
Justin Kan seemed to anticipate the success of his website since 2007. He said:
YouTube allowed people to start producing video and putting it online […] Well, now live video is no
longer a pie-in-the-sky thing. If you want to broadcast something, we want to be the people to give you
the power to do it. […] Broadcasting something live from a remote site has always been the sole domain
of large media corporations with access to satellite trucks. […] What we want to do is put it in the hands
of the people. Imagine what you could do if you had the ability to broadcast live video from anywhere,
anytime. It changes the way news is gathered. It makes a whole new kind of travel show possible. It
allows the broadcast of sports that aren't large enough for ESPN. And I don't think we've even predicted
10 percent of the possible uses yet.1
Well, it is true that live streaming platforms are a mix between contents on video sharing websites and television
live broadcast. People can watch live or rebroadcasted videos, as live videos are recorded at the same time. So,
especially on Blog.tv, they can also download and customize them for a personal use. And moreover it is for
free, unlike programmes on satellite television. People can broadcast their own live videos that would become
channels like on television without extremely difficult techniques. On Stickam, they can start immediately a
video channel with only a camera and a microphone. And on Livestream, there is a ready-made application that
helps users to broadcast with elaborate equipment. The “democratization” of live broadcast has begun.
As a result, from its foundation until now, Justin.tv has transmitted more than 428,000 channels and
40,000 of them are broadcasting 1,75 million hours of direct. Because internet has no boundary limits, it is easier
for people all around the world to watch more foreign channels that they would never even know the name on
satellite television. No need to download specific software to watch online other countries’ TV stations, no space
and time limits, and defined programmes that are clearly classified: quite a new useful revolution that attracts
more and more internet users, as we can see in this graphic:
Source: Justin.tv Live Video Network, Daily Traffic, Quantcast Corporation, Nov. 2009, Web. Nov. 23rd 2009.
This graphic made by Quantcast Corporation shows us that from June to November 2009 American people who
had used Justin.tv are not as many as others all around the world. And 21,1 million of users were registered on
November 23, 2009. Those statistics were directly measured with a precise meter: on the website, a control-
panel registers every day the exact number of visits, watched programmes, and the location from where they
were watched, the time period and the simultaneous connection rates. They are much more reliable than
television audience measurements that only rely on volunteers to make their own statistics. These volunteers
may forget to press the remote-control meter when leaving the room, so the reliability of the rating points are
only 0,6 point whereas on internet it is 1 point.
Consequently, as the demand increase more and more every day, popular live streaming platforms
needed strong servers to support a maximum of simultaneous viewers and videos. According to a case study
made by Akamai in 2007 – a media delivery that collaborates with Stickam – they needed to support more than
Extracted from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/03/27/apop.DTL
23,000 simultaneous participants, 305,000 viewers in a single hour by adding more servers and bandwidths. This
is six times more than before: the previous year, Stickam could only support 25,000 viewers. But now, even
Justin.tv “pushes more than 177 Gbps of video at peak usage – the equivalent of 16,946 standard DVDs per
hour.” 2 Stickam, Justin.tv and the others also decided rapidly to base their websites on the browser Adobe Flash
and on third party software like QuickTime Broadcaster, Camtwist, Flash Media Encoder, Wirecast, and VLC
for higher quality videos.
While broadcasting from the browser, the maximum quality settings are 1000 kbps for video […] As a
comparison, YouTube High Quality video are 400-500 kbps, and true 720p High Definition video is
approximately 2000 kbps. […] true HD 1280 x 720 in H.264 has been broadcast by some users. 3
Wide choice of live videos, possibility to create its own channel, strong servers and high-quality videos:
“Watching audio and video files that stream is more like drinking from a water fountain as compared to filling a
glass with water and then drinking--you don't need to fill the glass first!” said Walter F. Deal, a journalist. But it
is true unless having a weak internet connexion of course.
There is another important feature that makes live streaming platform so different from other ones: Live
video chat, a kind of mix between live streaming videos and social network. But unlike social networking
websites or platforms like Instant Messenger or Skype, it is not restricted to friends, colleagues and family. It is
also open to any person having a same interest than you. On Stickam, live video chats are divided into three
categories: group chat, chat rooms and debate rooms. They all have a same concept: there is a stream room with
many camera spots for each participant who can choose who can view their face. Group chats are made up to
seven camera spots whereas it is up to twelve for chat rooms and debate rooms. But over than a hundred
members can express themselves by talking or writing in the chat box, but they may be rejected by the main user
like on a regular chat. Friend requests can also be sent to other members like social networking websites, and it
is possible to see who are online. As for debate rooms, they are open only for specific subjects, and not all the
time. The concept is similar to a conferencing system, very useful for scholars and distance education, but also
for many kinds of businesses.
One kind of business that emerged first was “the lifecasting strategy”. A few people decided one day to
broadcast their life 24/7 to be recognized outstandingly in their profession. They may be singer-songwriter like
Jody Marie Gnant, or journalist like Sarah Austin. They knew very soon that in an individual society where
competition is everywhere, we need to have very unique skills to achieve a successful career. But broadcasting
its own videos to reveal its own talents – like a few years ago on Myspace.com – are already out of fashion. That
is the reason why Jody Marie Gnant streamed her life on Ustream.tv. And surprisingly – or unsurprisingly – she
gained a huge popularity in a short time:
Less than a week after starting her broadcast, she had the #3 video on MySpace with 186,000 views. Her
music is also being showcased as part of ScreenVison's pre-show entertainment in 4,000 movie theaters
nationwide... "It's an exciting combination of interactive and non-interactive media," says Gnant. "People
Extracted from http://fr.justin.tv/p/about_us
Extracted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin.tv
can choose to tune in and just watch the events of my life unfold, or they can log on and have an
immediate effect on my career." 4
Sarah Austin also became a notorious journalist as she has broadcasted since 2007 her daily life and career. She
filmed all the events, news, interviews, video clips in which she actively took part in. As for the common
lifecasters, Patrick Cornwell, the owner and manager of Camstreams, would compare them to Jennifer Ringley, a
woman who showed her life in 1997: “She had inadvertently created the first "Reality" show” 4.
Another kind of business is live sessions made by professional artists. They want to make “Direct-to-
Fan interactions” to outstand from superstar artists who seem to be inaccessible to public contact. While many
fans prefer to idolize someone because he or she is inaccessible, many others prefer to know better the human
who is behind the cover. A “humanization” of the artist: that is Coffey Anderson, a Texan singer wants the
public to recognize in him when organizing live session on Ustream on October 22, 2009 from 4pm to 7pm:
For me, the best part of being an artist is figuring out how to creatively communicate your thoughts to
people who can relate to what you are saying. Once you are taken out of the creative process, packaged
and sold to the masses with which you have no relationship, then the ‘true artist’ cannot be seen. By using
all of these amazing new technology platforms, assuming you have something fans can relate to, you can
cost-effectively and easily create, produce, distribute…..over and over while it’s fresh. 5
Coffey Anderson mentioned here the notion of a ‘true artist’, like an authenticity that would complete the
humanization process of inaccessible people. It shows clearly that we are now living in a society that is not only
based on an individual system and a fierce competition between each other, but also more and more concentrated
on physical aspects. The omnipresence of the media, the influences of cinema and fashion codes have shaped
famous personalities into status symbols, inhuman things.
And among inaccessible personalities that are not artists, there are politicians. During campaigns for
presidential elections, all the candidates want to be recognized by the whole population – an obvious wish. But
launching effective campaigns are really expensive, and unknown candidates unfortunately often got into debt.
The solution? Broadcast their own live videos for the campaign. It is the most effective way to be rapidly known
by the public, and it is for free. For the 2008 American presidential election, all the candidates chose Ustream.tv
to present their programmes, and they also allowed everybody to ask them political questions. Debates were
engaged and some politicians even commented online on the other candidates’ responses during nationally
televised debate. For Ustream.tv, it was a great success: candidate Obama himself gathered 50,000 view and
74,000 participants. Mike Klein, Campaign Manager, Kucinich for President 2008, declared:
Working with Ustream has opened up an entirely new channel for our campaign delivering interactive
and direct communication with voters. The ability to produce our own content enables us to highlight
various issues that the mainstream media have gone to great lengths to ignore. This empowering
technology will continue to revolutionize the political process, raise the level of debate, and enhance our
Extracted from http://www.ustream.tv/press/category/press-releases/page/2/
And after the American presidential election, the reputation of Ustream.tv has remained, as many famous singers
and basket-ball teams also joined the community.
All the features detailed below have given an important popularity for all the live streaming video social
networking among worldwide users. They have also contributed to achieve success for many members who
knew how to make benefit with. But there are also failures for members who made improper uses of them. For
example at San Francisco, some people amused themselves to call emergency services with the Justin.tv’s
official phone number, and signalled them a false stabbing house incident and a few days later, an false fire
incident. These calling were reported to the administrators of the website who reinforced their securities.
However, it is sometimes still not enough. Some suicide cases that happened online were related: in 2003 in
Arizona, an overdosed man described his actions while his webcam was on; in 2008 in England a man hanged
himself while chatting online. But the most related suicide case was the one of Abraham Biggs, a nineteenth
year-old student who took killing medicines in front of 181 people watching him until his death on Justin.tv.
More striking is that nobody had seriously noticed his distress in spite of his numerous messages, even the one in
which he said that members of the live streaming community are “like a family for [him]”7. In fact, the
administrators of Justin.tv can not really be held responsible for what happened. According to them, they trust
the community to signal to them all dubious videos or members’ suspicious behaviour.
Online communities “are like the crowd outside the building with the guy on the ledge,” Jeffrey Cole, a
professor who studies technology’s effects on society at the University of Southern California.
“Sometimes there is someone who gets involved and tries to talk him down. Often the crowd chants,
‘Jump, jump.’ They can enable suicide or help prevent it.” 7
One of the reason why members seems to be unconscious of their harmful acts may be the registration of a false
age: to join the community, users must be above 14 years-old, but many younger people can easily lie about it.
Under those statements, ethical codes on live streaming platforms are called into question. How to make users to
respect correctly all of the basic terms of services? Stickam administrators are already watching closely members
who want to launch their channel. Those members must give the reasons why they want to go live, and the
administrators may decide whether they can have their own account or not.
Another controversy is the breach of copyright for some streamed movies and music. Messages of
warning are sent to users who do not respect this fundamental rule, and they may see yet their accounts deleted.
However, the most difficult copyright to contest on live streaming videos may be the diffusion of professional
sport games on Justin.tv. And especially the diffusion of a football programme in France. Canal plus, a private
satellite television criticized members of Justin.tv to broadcast illegally their transmission. While 79,000 fans
watched the programme for free, subscribers still need to pay for watching… So, live streaming is a threat for
copyright? Not really. The largest threat comes from Internet itself: copies of novels, pictures, videos and
graphics are often made on basic websites. And now, Ustream.tv launched recently Watershed, a “pay-as-you-
go” system that compensates entertainers and enterprises.
Online live streaming video social networking offers lots of features that can allow people to entertain
themselves, communicate with new friends, or to reveal their talents online if used with harmless intentions. It
can be seen as a mix between television live broadcasts, video sharing, social networking and instant messenger
website, and as a multipurpose tool available on internet via the computer. Finally, it is quite similar to the
applications available on internet via the smartphone. The difference is that now, people can even broadcast
online their videos with their smartphones.
• Akamai Technologies. Akamai delivers over 6 Gbps of Live Adobe Flash Video Streaming to 23,000
simultaneous viewers for Stickam. <http://www.akamai.com/html/customers/case_study_stickam.html>.
Web. October 23rd , 2009.
• Alain Eskenazi. Justin.tv, Roi du direct sur le Web. <http://fr.techcrunch.com/2009/03/26/justintv-roi-du-
direct-sur-le-web/> . March 26th 2009. Web. October 23rd, 2009.
• Brian Stelter. Web Suicide Viewed Live and Reaction Spur a Debate Web. Nov. 24, 2008. Web. November
20th , 2009. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/us/25suicides.html?_r=2&th&emc=th>.
• Damien Bancal. Le site Justin.tv dans la ligne de mire de Canal +. May 29th 2009. Web. November 20th ,
• Erick Schonfeld. Ustream Launches Watershed, A Pay-As-You-Go Live Streaming Service For Enterprises.
February 17, 2009. Web. November 20th , 2009. <http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/17/ustreamtv-
• Jeff Yang. Man With a Cam. March 27, 2007. Web. November 20th , 2009. <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/
• Justin.tv. About Justin.tv. n.d. Web. November 20th , 2009. <http://fr.justin.tv/>
• Liz Gannes. 19-year-old Commits Suicide on Justin.tv. November 20, 2008. Web. October 16th, 2009.
• Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins. Stickam. November 20th, 2008. Web. October 16th, 2009. .
• Michael Arrington. Viewer Prank: Police Raid Justin.tv. March 23, 2007. Web. November 20th , 2009. .
• Nelly Dubner. Comment sont calculées les audiences Médiamétrie ?
<http://www.lezappingdupaf.com/article-2067292.html>. July 30th , 2006. Web. November 20th , 2009.
• Rebekah Iliff. Audiolife and Ustream Launch Coffey Anderson’s “Direct-to-Fan Live Sessions”. October
22nd , 2009. Web. November 20th , 2009. <http://www.euroinvestor.fr/news/story.aspx?
• Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano. Live Video Streaming: Guide To The Best Broadcast Services To Stream
Your Video In Real-Time. July 27th, 2009. Web. November 20th , 2009. . <http://www.masternewmedia.org/
• Savevid.com. The Advantages of Streaming Video Technology. n.d. Web. October 16th, 2009.
• Smohkim. Ustream enables live streaming on Android with Viewer Smohkim's picture. November 25th,
2009. Web. November 20th , 2009. <http://www.sombiz.net/content/ustream-enables-live-streaming-
• Ustream.tv Newsroom. Ustream.TV Continues Rapid Growth, Secures Financing, Appoints General Wesley
Clark to Advisory Board and Expands Footprint in Political Arena. December 18, 2007. Web. November
20th , 2009. <http://www.ustream.tv/press/ustreamtv-continues-rapid-growth-secures-financing-appoints-
• Virginia Montecino. Copyright and the Internet. 1996. Web. November 23rd , 2009. <http://mason.gmu.edu/
• Walter F. Deal III. Streaming Media: The Benefits of Streaming Media Include a Convenient Means of
Creating Online-Accessible Content That Capitalizes on the Dynamic Capabilities of Audio and Video.
Journal article. The Technology Teacher, Vol. 62, 2003. Web. November 23rd , 2009.
• Wikipedia.org. Justin.tv. n.d. Web. October 16th , 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin.tv>.
• Wikipedia.org. Lifecasting (video stream). n.d. Web. Nov. 23rd , 2009.
• Wikipedia.org. Stickam. n.d. Web. October 16th , 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stickam>
• Wikipedia.org. Ustream. n.d. Web. October 16th , 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ustream>.
• Wikipedia.org. Livestream. n.d. Web. October 16th , 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestream>.