Since its original creation as a way for military members overseas to communicate with their families, Ustream has since developed into a fully featured and consistent competitor to worldwide live streaming and hosting services like YouTube Live.
- A deep and robust network of current and past live streams
- Ability to create your own streams with any internet-connected camera
- Integrated chat functionality in all streams
- Very generous to free users, both content creators and viewers
- Starting a stream is incredibly simple to do
- Great interface makes browsing an exploratory and engaging experience
- Only supports one broadcast at a time
- Requires a paid subscription for more advanced users
- Video quality is merely servicable
Initially designed as a passion project that would let friends communicate directly with one another from all across the world, Ustream has since developed into one of the most prominent ways for individuals to connect via video with friends, family, and fans wherever there's an internet connection. It's since been branded as IBM Cloud Video, but the fundamental principles behind Ustream are still in place, and the platform has seen use by prominent figures like former President Barack Obama and musician Tori Amos. The inclusion of a mobile app makes it easier for content creators to communicate with their audience and for individuals to access the content they want regardless of where they happen to be. Ustream has risen to become one of the top video streaming services around, and there's a good reason for that. The platform is designed for accessibility above all else. Watching videos doesn't even require you to create an account through the service. You can simply open up the app and start browsing for the content that matters to you. Of course, accounts offer a number of benefits like the ability to create playlists and customized search profiles. The interface is smartly designed. A home page highlights the most popular content available right now as well as recent, current, and upcoming streams. From there, you can dig deeper into the content that interests you by using the categorized browsing features. Shifting between streams is simple, and viewers can engage directly with the content through an integrated chat feature and intuitive social media sharing functions. The content itself is broad. A large portion of what's available are professional broadcasts from major news and entertainment networks, but the democratic and accessible functionality means that there's plenty of amateur content you can discover if you're willing to just scrape beneath the surface. As a result, just about everything you could hope to find is probably available in some capacity. The result is something that resembles essentially the wild west of video streaming as opposed to more curated and carefully considered services like Hulu or Netflix. If you're looking to create your own content, the process is incredibly simple. Videos can be streamed directly from your phone's camera. Users can even create content using a free account, but storage is limited, and the results are ad sponsored. It's a reliable choice for anyone looking to dabble into online streaming, but professional users will probably want to spring for one of the paid subscriptions. Running a stream is as simple as turning your camera on and letting the video roll, but a host of integrated features allow you to lend a more professional and interactive component to your streams. These include the ability to create polls and engage directly with your viewers through chat.