Livestream is unveiling a major upgrade to its live video service today. It won’t be fully rolled out until December, but you can see a preview of it here or watch the video below. The new player brings a few firsts to live video: an adaptive bitrate which can adjust dynamically based on the viewers bandwidth up to HD quality (720p); an instant playback DVR feature; a live blogging platform to add text, photos, and video clips underneath the main video; and social networking features.
One of the most noticeable changes is the DVR functionality. “Viewers can rewind while it is live,” says CEO Max Haot. One of the big issues with live video online is that it takes a while for an archive to be viewable. At the very least, you have to wait for the live event to be finished before an archive can be produced. But Livestream’s new platform allows for viewers to jump back to earlier parts of the live video while it is still being streamed. This feature will also allow producers to cut clips and embed them in the feed below the video stream.
“We are redefining a livestream,” says Haot. “It is not just video. It could be a photo, video clips, text.” The feed below the video can be filled with all of those things, and can even serve as a liveblog of the event being streamed live. In this sense, Livestream is entering a new market with its liveblogging capability currently occupied by startups such as ScribbleLive and Coveritlive (but they don’t offer the live video capability).
Finally, Livestream is adding social features to increase engagement such as profile pages, the ability to follow other members, and see what they are publishing on your personal dashboard. Eventually, Haot plans to introduce a reposting feature much like Tumblr’s reblogging button. Another feature on the roadmap will be the ability to share links to specific moments in a video. Livestream is already big on Facebook, but these features are designed to make its own site more social.
Haot also shared some stats with me. Livestream reaches 35 million people a month who collectively watch 1.5 billion minutes of video, The New York City company employs 120 people and is on track to do $12.5 million in revenues this year, up from about $5 million in 2010. He hopes to get to “nearly break even” this year, and believes the new platform will help him grow even faster next year.
The video below offers a quick preview of the new player, which will be tested with while livestreaming the Volvo Ocean Race sailing event.