On YouTube, the most viral videos showcase quick, one-off events: a baby biting a finger, a dowdly singer wowing a panel of judges, a man doing the Robot (and the Macarena, and the Twist, and the Moonwalk). What's missing, says John Ham, founder and CEO of video-broadcasting site Ustream, is "a feeling of immediacy."
No more. Using Ustream's "Social Stream" feature, which launched in October, viewers can simultaneously sign into Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and AIM, and broadcast their video comments as status updates, growing the site's audience exponentially. Right now, it's averaging 45 million uniques a month.
"People usually spread videos of stuff that already happened," Ham explains. "We're letting them spread videos of stuff that's still happening." In the past year, Ustream has hosted a tween dream of live celebrity chats—the Jonas Brothers (635,000 streams), Ashley Tisdale (570,000), Selena Gomez (406,000)—as well as a KISS concert (2 million), Obama's inauguration (3.8 million), the New Moon movie premiere (4.1 million), and Michael Jackson's memorial service (4.6 million). And its American Music Awards preshow (3.4 million) helped ABC's primetime broadcast draw its biggest audience since 2002.
Conspicuously absent from Ham's talking points? Tila Tequila, the self-proclaimed Matriarch of MySpace, whose recent naked Ustream rant—yes, that link is safe for work—caused quite a stir. Oh, well. Full 2009 most-watched list is below:
- Michael Jackson's Memorial Service (7/7) - 4.6 million streams
- Twilight: New Moon Premiere (11/16) - 4.1 million
- Obama's Inauguration (1/20) - 3.8 million
- American Music Awards Preshow (11/22) - 3.4 million
- KISS Concert (11/25) - 2 million
- Michael Jackson's This Is It Premiere (10/27) - 1.8 million
- Bill Cosby Live Chat (10/19) - 1.3 million
- Jonas Brothers Live Chat (8/22) - 635,000
- Ashley Tisdale (7/30) - 570,000
- Selena Gomez (9/23) - 406,000