Monday, July 27, 2009

Ustream's Watershed Online Broadcasting Beta Available

Watershed
Powered by USTREAM

"Watershed is the private label version of Ustream™s proven and chosen Flash-based live, interactive broadcasting platform. Ustream™s technology has powered live broadcasting for Barack Obama's campaign website as well as for numerous other high-profile partners. With Watershed, customers will be able to broadcast live on the Internet using a fully customizable player with a variety of different features and options including chat, privacy, and analytics. The product is an all-in-one, easily deployed self-serve solution for both large and small organizations. By using Watershed, customers will be able to build genuine communities and relationships around a shared online experience...."

Watershed sounds like the best thing since sliced bread - and probably is an impressive service. I use Ustream's older system, by the way.

When you get into the Terms of Service, you'll discover that Watershed is a beta version: "...Watershed Services and Watershed Content may not operate properly, be in final form or fully functional; ... may contain errors, design flaws or other problems; ... may result in unexpected results ...."

That sort of thing is why I read TOS before signing up for something - particularly if I'm going to pay for it.

That said, I've used Ustream's non-Watershed service since July 1, 2009: and am very satisfied with it's performance. Demands on my browser put a bit of a strain on my five-year-old comptuer's resources, but it's a huge step up from what was making my webcam go before that. (Small Town America: Minnesota: "... there's nowhere else on earth that I would rather be")

From a quick look at Watershed Elements, it looks like using Watershed doesn't require programming experience - although you have the option of designing your own broadcaster, using the Watershed logic for framework operations. All that takes is Flash/ActionScript3 programming experience.

The pricing looks reasonable: starting at $49.00 a month. That's out of my range, this year, but not every business has the sort of budget I do.

Overall, Watershed looks like something worth looking into for online interactive broadcasting.

1 comment:

andy said...

Web casting, or broadcasting over the internet, is a media file (audio-video mostly) distributed over the internet using streaming media technology. Streaming implies media played as a continuous stream and received real time by the browser (end user). Streaming technology enables a single content source to be distributed to many simultaneous viewers. Streaming video bandwidth is typically calculated in gigabytes of data transferred. It is important to estimate how many viewers you can reach, for example in a live webcast, given your bandwidth constraints or conversely, if you are expecting a certain audience size, what bandwidth resources you need to deploy.

To estimate how many viewers you can reach during a webcast, consider some parlance:
One viewer: 1 click of a video player button at one location logged on
One viewer hour: 1 viewer connected for 1 hour
100 viewer hours: 100 viewers connected for 1 hour…

Typically webcasts will be offered at different bit rates or quality levels corresponding to different user’s internet connection speeds. Bit rate implies the rate at which bits (basic data units) are transferred. It denotes how much data is transmitted in a given amount of time. (bps / Kbps / Mbps…). Quality improves as more bits are used for each second of the playback. Video of 3000 Kbps will look better than one of say 1000Kbps. This is just like quality of a image is represented in resolution, for video (or audio) it is measured by the bit rate.

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