“So we go into NBC and tell them we have an idea for a show about nothing.
They say, what’s your show about?
I say, nothing…
I think you may have something.”
YouTubers and YouNowers are taking a note from Seinfeld’s 1990’s vision of a major network TV show about nothing by broadcasting their daily lives to the entire world. What happens? Well, nothing much.
These do-it-yourself broadcasters are already generating millions of dollars of revenue every month, and are being actively scouted by talent agents the same way Major League teams watch high school baseball games.
And things will get stranger once video conferencing technology allows their audiences to make live commentary.
Video Conferencing Killed the Network TV Star
YouNow and YouTube Live stream hundreds of thousands of broadcasts each day.
The real-time sessions of YouNow let their creators expound on any topic they fancy, share the minutiae of their everyday lives, perform music and drama, or just sleep before a live audience that can interact with them instantly through text-based chat.
It’s a mix of the social and the self-serving, and offers an antidote to the contrived machinations of mainstream reality TV. But there’s another layer to add to this eye-watering onion: video conferencing technology that allows for two-way communication.
Start-up Blab is already doing this very thing, in front of a far smaller audience, by presenting multiple chat windows within every broadcast. These extra windows surrounding the live streamer allows audience member to make real time comments, as in YouTube Live and YouNow. With Blab, however, the host can invite anyone whose comment seems insightful enough, or just plain weird enough, to fill a window and appear in person themselves.
When your broadcast is literally just a game of charades, it’s a lot more entertaining when thousands can play along and take their own turn.
Live from Bedlam, and Powered by Webcam
These new uses of live streaming post a question: is a live game of charades played by thousands of strangers from around the world broadcast entertainment? Would it change your answer if that broadcast attracted more than 700,000 viewers?
That’s how big the audience is for YouNow star Zach Clayton, who spends his broadcast time putting toothpaste under his eyes, drawing faces on his belly, and lighting himself on fire.
Imagine what Zach could get up to if he was joined live on camera by a few of the thousands of fans that watch him on a regular basis.
To make this connection between host and audience without the infrastructure of Blab, all that’s really needed is a link to a disposable video conferencing site, preferably a WebRTC powered browser-based site that doesn’t need sign-up or configuration.
Now, when a particular live comment catches the host’s eye they can send that person the video calling link and invite them to the stage of the world wide web.
It’s audience participation limited only by the amount of people who can join the group video conference call. And what a colorful crowd they’d be.
Video Conferencing Superstars
Combining video conferencing and youtube creates a cross between a radio call-in show and a one-on-one or panel discussion show.
It could turn a traditional news format into a live video stream from witnesses on the ground at an event as they join the coverage via mobile phone video conferencing. There would be no ad breaks, no FCC censors, no need to cut away from the heart of the action–nothing but reality for as long as the audience will watch.
And that’s the conservative end of the potential.
As impromptu art, a host could begin a story only for it to be taken up by first one and then dozens of creatives across the globe, each taking control of the central stream in turn.
As a reality walk through someone else’s life, the host could actively seek out audience members by using smartphone broadcasting and wandering around public places.
As a morning show, it’s a hungover host recalling last night’s big gig from the comfort of their bed.
There are no rules to broadcasting anymore. Nothing, perhaps, to even distinguish the host from the audience.
Which can sometimes really be something.