Ustream is a company founded in 2007 that provides video streaming services to more than 80 million viewers and broadcasters. It is based in San Francisco and has more than 180 employees in their San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Budapest offices. Company partners include Panasonic, Samsung, Logitech, CBS News, PBS NewsHour, Viacom, and IMG Media. It received $11.1 million in Series A funding for new product development from DCM (Doll Capital Management) and investors Labrador Ventures and Band of Angels. It is owned by an American company of the same name, Ustream, Inc., based in San Francisco, California. Ustream was one of the live game streaming services for Sony's PlayStation 4.
Ustream was born when the founders (John Ham, Brad Hunstable, and Dr. Gyula Feher) wanted a way for their friends in the Army, who were deployed overseas in Iraq during the war, to be able to communicate with their families. A product like Ustream would provide them with a way to talk to all of their relatives at once when free time in the war zone was limited.
Launching their public beta in March 2007, Ustream is one of a series of live video sites, including Justin.tv, Livestream, and Bambuser. The company has seen significant growth in the political, entertainment, and technology fields.
Ustream has witnessed many notable people streaming from politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, to artists like Tori Amos and the Plain White T's. Notable lifecasters such as iJustine and E-TARD The LifeCaster have made their mark on Ustream as well. The technology community has also adopted Ustream to include Robert Scoble, Leo Laporte, and Chris Pirillo.
On January 21, 2016, IBM acquired Ustream. It will be combined with Aspera, Clearleap, and Cleversafe to form IBM's cloud video unit. IBM envisioned the use of its technology as part of an enterprise video offering.
Ustream's basic service is free and supported by advertising revenue. A paid service called Watershed was formerly available, charging broadcasters on a per-viewer basis and allowing either ad-free service or broadcaster-supplied advertisements. In 2013, Ustream phased out the Watershed program for their Pro Broadcasting Services, based on monthly charges to broadcasters.
Automatic content blocking
Ustream uses a copyright enforcement service provided by Vobile, which uses a proprietary fingerprinting system to automatically detect copyrighted content. This system has been known to generate what are considered by some to be false positives, blocking content that should fall under fair use, or which has been specifically licensed by the stream originator. In one such incident, the official livecast of the 2012 Hugo Award ceremony was terminated because it incorporated authorized clips of nominated television shows and movies, causing "a flood of livid Twitter messages". The following day, Ustream apologized for the incident and temporarily disabled automatic blocking while they adjusted the system to "better balance the needs of broadcasters, viewers, and copyright holders".