I thought I would revisit the age old Ustream.TV vs. Justin.TV debate and look at how they have changed, problems encountered and write something from the end-users point of view – after all without people visiting and interacting with the chat, you might as well be talking to yourself. The quick background is that these sites along with others allow anyone with a webcam and a microphone to stream a live show, anything from pointing the webcam at some kittens to a full blow show with lower 3rds and transitions.
The first thing your going to notice if your not using an AdBlocker is the large number of adverts all over the place, both on the page itself and inside the video. The adverts come in and last for 30 seconds, this is even before you get to see the content on offer. They have a chosen streamer on the front page, this used to be the little guys before but now it features the larger stars. Along the top we have the sections but this is not all of the sections, you will not see ‘Tech’ Listed on there – for this we need to look at ‘All Live’ and drill down to the correct section.
A Look down the Tech Section will normally not bring you anything computer related as such but should you find a show you want to see – this is were it started to fall apart. You can be logged in but as soon as you type, the chat tell’s you that you need to log in and provides a login box. With some luck, you may get around to actually typing something but even though Ustream provide a IRC Server (of sorts) – most Tech people seem to have there own IRC Server and for you to venture off onto this new site of you want to chat. Before I go on about a separate IRC Server, there is more bugs – the chat does not scroll as people type (sometimes it does) and this is very annoying indeed having to keep scrolling down to see what is been said.
My Feeling on this IRC Server thing is of course two fold, I can fire up an IRC Client and chat away with the video listed (even on a separate computer) but I would only do this if I knew the person already. What I suspect will happen is people will stay on the Ustream page and not chat but just watch until they get bored (will not take long) thus you have now lost some visitors.
The other aspect of Ustream is the person streaming has to press record to save the show for later viewing but most do not it seems and unless you are there at the time, there is no way to go back over what is been watched or to watch later in the case of people with different time zones. If you do not feel part of the cast, you probably will not come back.
This is much like Ustream, adverts coming at you thick and fast – the most annoying is the one played inside the video and a lot of times it will display an advert over the lower 3rds and even worse, a full screen popout for Poker, advised you go in with Firefox and adblock to get a better experience (Chrome and adblock does not block them it seems).
The Video part offers all of the controls inside the video so when you mouse over, you can mute, full screen and so forth. The chat for most part works, its not great but it scrolls down and if you are logged in, it works. They do run a sort of IRC server but make it next to impossible to connect to (White lists and such). Once again we see a lot of people diverting the chat to an IRC Server of choice – this means leaving the site of course.
The best feature though is the ability for the last 24 hours worth of broadcast to be automatically recorded – this means as long as the producer does not disable this feature – you can catch up with the last few shows. What is even better with this method is I can skip through a 2 hour show with great speed once it has buffered up. This feature alone is what I feel is good about Justin and I get to watch a lot of shows from people on a much different time zone and keep up with what they have been doing.
As a viewer to shows, if the show is on too late for UK people such as a show starting at 8:30pm EST – then the chance of me tuning in even on a Saturday is slim to none. If there is a way for me to catch up easily (such as Justin recorded feature) then I will probably keep up to date with what that show is doing but if they only record the odd segment or none at all – I will probably never get to see this show ever. To give a analogy, imagine a TV Show you heard about was on TV at 2am, unless you really wanted to see this you would neither stay up for this or set something up to record that show but had you the chance to ‘catch up tv’ and watch the show at your convenience, you may love that show and stay up late for the next one and so forth.
Should the die hard Ustream people stick with there choice and the low numbers or jump ship (like the rest) and come to Justin? If somebody keeps visiting your streaming page even on a recorded segment (and NOT Streamed over and over like many do) – they will learn of your website and you shall have more followers.