Google has officially rolled out ‘Hangouts On Air’ feature to Google+ users worldwide, allowing users to publicly broadcast the live video feed of their Hangout discussions as well as record the entire session for future viewing. Google informed that they will be gradually rolling out this feature to users across the world over the next few weeks.
Launched in September last year, Hangouts On Air was previously available to limited number of broadcasters, enabling them to publicly broadcast their Hangout videos to their fans and record the entire session for future viewing. The feature saw participation from several notable people like will.i.am, David Beckham, Tyra Banks, Music band Suite 709 and US President Barack Obama who had conducted a hangout with US Governor Mitt Romney, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and many others.
Features: As stated earlier, Hangouts On Air allows users to broadcast their Hangout discussion either through their Google+ stream, their YouTube channel or their website by selecting the ‘Enable Hangouts On Air’ option when they start a regular hangout session. Users can add up to nine people per session. During the video broadcast, users can also see how many visitors are currently watching the live session.
Once the hangout session ends, Google will upload a public video recording to the user’s YouTube channel, and their original Google+ post. One can also edit the recorded video (presumably through YouTube’s editing suite), following which the Google+ post including the video URL will automatically reflect the edited version.
Availability: While Google claims that this feature will be available to Google+ users worldwide, Google’s FAQ page suggests that the feature will be available in 40 countries including India, Australia, Brazil, France, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States. Google also notes that Hangouts On Air will only be available to users who have a YouTube account in good standing.
Competitors: With the global rollout of Hangouts On Air, Google now directly competes with other live streaming services like Ustream, Justin.tv and Livestream. Interestingly, YouTube had also launched its own live streaming section at YouTube.com/live last year and had added features like real-time analytics and monetization options like in-stream ads and pay-per-view last month. However, the service seems to be currently limited to select professional broadcasters. We wonder if Google will integrate these hangout sessions to YouTube live section in the coming future.