Ustream Creates Channel Managers, Pivots to Enterprise Customers
[Note: This sponsored interview was recorded at NAB 2014.]
Successful companies listen to customer demands, and at the recent NAB 2014 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ustream showed that it was listening. In an interview with StreamingMedia.com, Usteram CEO Brad Hunstable talked about his company's new channel manager feature, which came from customer feedback.
"We recently launched what is called channel managers for us, and essentially what it is is it allows you to assign different access control and security controls to different parts of your organization," Hunstable said. "This is something that we had heard over the last few years from our customers very clearly that they need the ability to allow certain departments of their organization or certain parts of a media company to have different access levels within Ustream."
Adding features for corporate clients is all part of Ustream's growth in the enterprise. While Ustream started with more of a consumer focus, big business has made up more and more of its new clients.
"Most of our growth in the past few years has actually come from enterprises," Hunstable explained. "So it’s customers like Sales Force or Intuit, companies that you wouldn’t think would have anything to do with video are starting to act more and more like media companies."
To see the full interview, watch the video below.
Shawn: It’s Shawn Lam here for Streaming Media at NAB 2014. I’m at the Ustream booth. I’m joined by Brad Hunstable. He’s the CEO of Ustream. Now I’ve been playing around with some of the Enterprise features. I’m a Ustream user myself. And some of the ones in beta that I’ve been really interested in. I’d love for you to chat about a little bit and one of the ones is being able to assign managers to some of my channels because I don’t want to be the only one who has access, but I also don’t want to share my entire package with someone who’s on site there who wants analytics or even my clients if they want to get analytics. So can you tell us a bit about that feature there?
Brad: Well as you mentioned, we recently just launched what is called channel managers for us. And essentially what it is is it allows you to assign different access control and security controls to different parts of your organization. This is something that we had heard over the last few years from our customers very clearly that they need the ability to allow certain departments of their organization or certain parts of a media company to have different access levels within Ustream. And the reason for that is that they spend a lot of time setting up these channels, uploading videos and a lot of effort and IP that they put into their creation of the Ustream experience and they want to be able to make sure other departments don’t actually mess that up. Or if someone leaves and you’d be able to control access. And so, it’s a very important feature for us, has a lot of applications not just to our media partners, but also certainly to our enterprise partners, particularly when you may have an organization that may have thousands of employees. One marketing department may you want to have access, but another department you may not want to have access to certain capabilities.
Shawn: Makes sense. That’s definitely a feature that I’ve appreciated, and I definitely use. Now looking at some of maybe best practices when you’re streaming, in the past you can do a single upload and then one download there. But what have you guys enabled in terms of cloud-based and even maybe multiple uploads.
Brad: So we were actually the first in terms of live broadcasting to be able to allow you to upload one fully HD feed and then we would in the cloud in real time transcode those into multiple bit rates. And we launched that a couple years ago and recently have been much more aggressive in productizing that for our users because typically when you’re on site at an event, you may only have a certain size pipe. So the ability to send as big a feed as you can and let us handle all the backend cloud transcoding to the appropriate levels, that are optimized for devices was an important feature. Of course, we support multiple-- If you want to send us multiple encoded feeds in different formats they’re certainly different bit rates and resolutions we can then present those in the viewer and the player. We do that. And soon we’re going to be launching what we were talking about earlier, the ability to send multiple streams so you can have a backup stream in case something does happen. Whether that back is through another satellite connection or a fiber that might be not through the public internet or whatever that may be in your case, it’s still important to have that sense of insurance particularly with some of these high profile events. And I’ll give you an example, just last night we did a huge Lady Gaga concert that we powered for Verizon that went really well. I mean, they had backups to backups to make sure if anything does happen, they’re still able to deliver that feed and that quality experience to the user.
Shawn: It seems like your focus has shifted a little bit from the consumer side a bit more to the business, the enterprise side. Can you talk a little bit to that?
Brad: I started Ustream in 2007 with my cofounders. And the original vision we had was essentially to be more like a live version of YouTube and we built a huge property, a huge brand. Where today we’re the largest live broadcasting platform in the world. I think if not the largest, one of the largest private CDNs in the world. I mean in terms of the petabytes that we push, we push 20 – 22 petabytes a month of bandwidth. So we’re a significant player in the video space. But what’s interesting over the last couple years where in the early days, we were working with media companies and consumers and very much the democratization of video. Most of our growth in the past few years has actually come from enterprises. So it’s customers like Sales Force or Intuit, companies that you wouldn’t think would have anything to do with video are starting to act more and more like media companies. An example of that is we just did the product launch with Sony and the PlayStation 4.
Brad: That reached over 2.13 million peak simultaneous live viewers, about eight million total live. It actually was about 1 – 2% of the internet’s bandwidth is in that two hour block and that was our product launch. And this is a company that treated this sort of like a media event and they had TV almost sized viewership, so we’re seeing this trend more and more with companies acting like media companies and we want to be at the forefront of that as well as internal to the organization. So we have a lot of customers who are using us for internal CEO town halls or internal sales training. So we have a lot of new products and features we’ll be launching this year to support that part of the business, which is rapidly growing. Typically what you see as a consumer, the option of technology has happened, enterprise usually follows right behind that. I think it’s a massive opportunity, a ton of growth. In fact we have a lot of data to support the fact that the enterprise growth may be growing faster now than consumer in terms of video. And that’s a really exciting space for us.
Shawn: So seven years now, very successful. One of the largest. Do you have a seven year itch? What’s next? Where are you guys going to take Ustream?
Brad: Well, again, I’m really excited about supporting the needs of the enterprise whether it’s supporting the needs of video through productivity, through transparency and helping organizations build deeper relationships through video. I mean, that’s sort of what we’ve always been about. And so, we’re really excited to build those capabilities for companies like Twitter, like Facebook who have very real video needs internally and externally to an organization. We think we can be the partner and the solution for that. And then we do things, we have recently launched a nonprofit called Ustream for Change. I’m really excited and passion about where we’re continuing to sort of support the consumer side of what we used to be particularly around citizen journalism, around internet freedom, around the democratization of countries and enabling- taking our mobile apps and getting them in the hands of people that can stream through transparency. And that’s something that we’re personally passionate about, excited about and we should bring some efforts towards that as well.
Shawn: Fantastic. Well, thank you very much Brad. This has been Shawn Lam for Streaming Media at NAB 2014.
This article is Sponsored Content
Not just a live streamer, Ustream supports video-on-demand, enterprise-level security, and lead generation. Its strength, however, is still with live video.