Ustream CEO Brad Hunstable Talks PS4, ESports And How Live Streaming Is Changing Everything
There’s a huge shift that’s going on in entertainment, yet many in Hollywood and even mainstream consumers have yet to catch on. Led by its domination in eSports, live streaming has revolutionized pro gaming by allowing fans to tune into live events big and small, and even watch their favorite pro gamers practice.
Activision and Treyarch built live streaming into Call of Duty: Black Ops II, specifically to capitalize on the eSports phenomenon. Now Sony has partnered with Ustream for thePlayStation 4, which will allow gamers to instantly stream their gaming with the touch of a button. Brad Hunstable, CEO and co-founder of Ustream, talks about how PS4 will help grow the live streaming phenomenon and impact eSports in this exclusive interview.
Can you talk about the numbers that Sony’s PS4 press conference attracted and compare them to other live streams?
Sony has been a long-standing Ustream partner and they utilized our technology to stream the PS4 press conference live to an audience of more than 8 million viewers, with a peak of 1 million concurrently. Ustream’s player was embedded in hundreds (if not thousands) of websites across the world, including the official PlayStation site. The majority of viewers watched the presser in English (72%), followed by Spanish (11%), German (7%), Japanese, Portuguese, and French (each 3%), Italian (2%) and Korean/Mandarin (each less than 1%).
Just days prior, more than 8 million viewers tuned in to watch NASA’s Russian meteor stream — never before have we had two massive events within one week, as both these events shattered Ustream company records for total viewers and concurrent viewers. This truly speaks to a sign of changing times for consumer consumption, as the volume of viewers for both events was higher than CNN, MSN, and Fox News combined.
How has live streaming changing the way game companies do PR?
The ability to stream live not only changes the way companies do PR, but it also allows them to provide a more personalized and authentic experience for their audiences. At Ustream, we connect people to the things they care about on an engaging platform that lets them simultaneously chat live via all the popular social networks. This conversation is amplified by being carried next to the Ustream live video feed, as well as on Facebook newsfeeds or Twitter hashtags. With average view times like Sony’s (more than 1 hour during the PS4 announcement), live social video becomes a self-promoting event. Consumers have come to expect their worlds at their fingertips, and live broadcasting is truly the way to give them that added touchpoint and satisfy the need for information and instant-gratification.
Sony still had 1,200 journalists at the event. As live streaming continues to grow, what impact will this have on media if companies can connect directly to gamers?
There will always be a need for the media to validate company messages and provide unbiased perspective, but live, un-edited streaming will create a more candid conversation and the need to react quickly to the fast pace that comes alongside the concept of live.
production, simply by being an awesome (or not so awesome!) gamer with a potential audience in the tens of millions. Looking at it this way, the PS4 will be what we know today as a cable box, we at Ustream will be the cable provider, and the gamer becomes the actor.
We’re already seeing games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II open up the ability to live stream with the push of a button on current gen. How will this trend evolve with PS4 and next gen?
We’ve seen successful experiments with streaming individual games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops II; this Ustream integration within Sony’s PS4 has the potential to transform the Playstation gaming technology platform into a broad community and marketplace for gamers. Gamers won’t be limited to viewing and participating in just one game anymore, but will soon be able to easily learn and jump into different gaming experiences, while marketers have the opportunity to tap into a broader gaming audience.
What role has eSports played in turning live streaming into a way of life for millions of gamers?
ESports has introduced a competitive element amongst the gaming community and now, the ability to easily stream live will fundamentally change the game for those that choose to do so. On TV, sports fans primarily watch games live because they do not want to miss any action and desire to enjoy the thrill of the moment. ESports is no different, and thus perfectly suited for live streaming.
With the advent of live streaming, does broadcast TV even matter today when it comes to eSports?
As televisions become “smarter” and adopt to consumer needs for constant connectivity, we’ll see more lines blur, particularly for gamers — gaming and reality, social media and gaming, new media and traditional media. As we saw from the high engagement for the PS4 press conference, as well as the NASA Russianmeteor stream, consumers are leaning toward live, online means as opposed to traditional means for these significant events. More and more, consumers will have the ability to direct, produce, and star in their own eSports production.
In the past at E3 we’ve seen TV specials on Spike. Do you feel live streaming changes the need for broadcast?
In the past year, we’ve seen dramatic viewership shifts from traditional television to live streaming on mobile phones and tablets. Coverage of major events by traditional cable channels will shift as well, to cater to a savvy, mobile, time-shifted audience that craves a personalized and authentic experience. We are now seeing audiences on Ustream that rival the size of TV audiences, so the shift is already here.
Beyond gaming, how do you see Ustream opening up shared entertainment experiences on PS4?
I can’t speak to any specific futures, but Ustream’s platform was designed to allow anyone to broadcast and share live video experiences from anywhere for any reason. There are any number of non-gaming experiences that we can envision enhancing with the Ustream platform, such as watching movies, sharing photographs, and e-commerce.
Sony is taking some major steps here to make the PS4 a serious machine for core gamers. No small wonder that the Gamestop Twitter said what it said after Destination Playstation. No doubt, these next-gen consoles will have some incredible bells and whistles and extended functionality. It impresses me that so much energy and thought is being put behind enhancing my experience as a gamer!
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You seen how expensive Ustream is? $99 per month for Starter. Obviously there is free ad supported version but I think $99 is too expensive when I clicked the pricing plans I expected inthe region of $15-20 per month max.
Ustream seems geared towards businesses than an individual user.
If they are partnering up with Sony and hoping gamers are going to use their service they are most likely working on plans that are aimed at the gaming community.
Their current model may not be set-up that way but that doesn't mean they can't introduce new ones.
They better change it to Twitch...
I like how Sony never goes with the mainstream such as youtube and stuff like that. I do think youtube will be an option though but I believe it will try to focuse more on Ustream which isn't always a bad thing. They will get better equipment over time and improve upon that site most likely within the first year. Sony has been doing quite a few partnerships lately and it's not always for video games. Now, while I would like the PS4 to consentrate mainly on games, all these different partnerships are a good thing. I have yet to hear of a partnership where Sony ended up being the douche, usually it's the otherway around. lol
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