Over the last year, the market for live streaming video exploded. Seriously, there's a mushroom cloud somewhere. Nearly one and a half billion minutes of live video was streamed online in the last 12 months.
Yes, among online users, over the past year alone more than 2,663 years of online video was streamed live. That's nauseatingly incredible.
These numbers come from a blog post on the website of Comscore, the digital age's most relied source of Internet usage statistics.
Also noted was the fact that online video viewership is up across the board, as to be expected, of course. But sites like Hulu and Youtube only grew by around 70%. The growth market is clearly live video.
Sites like Justin.tv, Ustream, Livestream, and LiveVideo are gaining traction in a big way. Ustream has become the most popular service, with more than 3.2 million unique viewers over the last year. Justin.tv clicked in at 2.6 million with Livestream at 2.4 million.
What's more interesting is the length of time people are spending watching content on these sites. Each live viewing session of Ustream lasted more than 20 minutes on average. That's quite a different story than Youtube, where users get annoyed if something is longer than 30 seconds.
Of course, the ability to broadcast anything live in real-time to anyone in the world brings about a whole slew of controversial discussions. In a very infamous broadcast on Justin.tv, a 19-year-old boy committed suicide amidst a group of viewers who egged him on in the video's chat window. And there have been numerous users banned from these sites for streaming live sex acts. These things just might be a little bit worse than a Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction.
But the appeal of broadcasting live video is too intoxicating for anyone to try to bring it down. People posting live video streams feel like they're even more important than bloggers and active Youtube users. I'd expect Youtube to really start being aggressive in this market before it starts to get taken over by Ustream or Justin.tv.
I'd also start looking for professional media companies to start really picking up steam here. NBC did it with the 2010 Olympics, other sportscasts are getting in the act, and I imagine at some point there will be live online programming from the major TV networks. It's undeniable that this is just the next step in the blitzing online video industry.