Last week YouTube did a two-day test to preview streaming capability, a move that would place them directly in competition with streaming sites such as livestream, ustream, and justin.tv. Streaming capability was available to four select YouTube partners — Next New Networks, Howcast, Young Hollywood, and Rocketboom for two days. Like the existing streaming sites, YouTube will allow for real-time comments and, eventually, embedding in widgets and archiving old streams.
In all of YouTube’s communications , they only address giving this capability to their “content partners” anytime in the near future. YouTube content partners are people and companies that post regularly to the site and apply to YouTube in order to monetize their content with ads and rentals, obtain better quality for their uploads, and use YouTube’s Insight analytics tools. (Note: YouTube has a special program for non-profit partners. Check it out.)
Evan Rosenberg of Anaheim Ballet, a member of YouTube’s nonprofit program, produces the series “Anaheim Ballet: More Than Dance…” (See below for an excerpt.) He described the company’s hopes for its channel.
“YouTube has made it possible to not only showcase ourselves (Anaheim Ballet), but ballet in general to a global audience to the tune of over 24 million views. We look forward to using this additional tool (live streaming) in our continuing effort to spread the art of ballet across cultural, age, and economic boundaries.”
One of the videos on Anaheim Ballet's YouTube channel.
What are the implications for performing and performance arts organizations as streaming video becomes more and more ubiquitous? As a company or an artist, live performance is our product. Thus, we have faced issues with online video platforms since their rise in popularity:
We wonder if capturing that artistic product and distributing it online dilutes the aesthetic appeal.
We wonder if we should side with our artists and unions who deserve credit, payment, and a future in their industry, or with the insistent board member who says we must post video to capture the elusive younger market segment. We wonder if these interests are indeed in conflict.
We wonder if it cannibalizes box office revenues. And we wonder if we should give our audience members more credit; we know the difference between live performance and video, and so do they…right?
Online video is here to stay. This announcement is one more step in a long staircase of live streaming video becoming the norm. Fifteen years ago everyone had to have a website. Four years ago everyone had to have a Facebook page. Last year, everyone was going to mobile apps. With YouTube’s announcement, it’s easy to see performance footage moving from the movie theatre and the ballpark to laptops, phones, and iPads.
Speaking of new platforms for video, is everyone aware of the changes coming up for Twitter?