Learn From Lisa Blog

Google Hangouts on Air announced – Free live broadcasting for everyone!

Hanging out, on Air.

Today Google announced their pilot product, Google Hangouts on Air, will be made available to the masses, worldwide. (Hmm… except China, that is. But that’s another story altogether.).

Notice the name is on Air” as in live, not “on AIR” as in Adobe AIR. This will be totally browser based live streaming, through Google Hangouts (part of Google+).
To get started, you simply log into your Google+ account and start a Hangout as you normally would, then select the option to Enable Hangouts on Air.” Once your’e ready to start, click “Start Broadcast” and your Hangout broadcast will be available to the world.
Up to 9 people can join your Hangout. Once your participants have arrived and everyone is ready, you can start to broadcast the Hangout to the world via Hangouts on Air. You’ll be able to broadcast your Hangout directly to your YouTube channel, and/or embed it into a webpage, as well as post to your G+ timeline. At the end of the hangout, that recording will be automatically uploaded to your YouTube account and will replace the live video stream anywhere the live stream was shared.

Auto Archive to YouTube

Video archives will be editable via the YouTube video editor. For events longer than two hours, you’ll need to download the video, edit offline and upload again. Will have to give this a try to see how the quality is affected when doing it this way, though, (i.e. does the video get re-encoded when you upload).
Here are some relevant links: Google’s announcement and Hangouts on Air Support Pages. They say they’ll be rolling this out to all Google+ accounts in the near future. It’s available in mine now, and just gave it a try, broadcasting myself working in my public library.
Unfortunately, either due to a poor connection or a buggy early beta. I wasn’t able to successfully stream and archive a broadcast prior to the writing of this post. I’ll try again later from my home network and update.
UPDATE: Was able to successfully broadcast and archive a quick GHOA (not a catchy name, gonna have to work on that)… Here goes:

Competition, what competition?!

Now, if you’re like me, one of the first things you thought upon hearing this news… what about the companies that are already offering live broadcasting today? The two leaders that immediately come to mind are Ustream and Livestream. Let’s take a quick look at how they compare in a few key areas, for the typical small broadcaster (clear winner for each, in green):
Google+ Hangouts on Air Ustream Livestream
Entry-level broadcast
100% Free.
Ads possible but can be turned off
Free, ad-supported available.Ad-free broadcasting starts at $99/month for 100 viewing hours. Free, ad-supported available.Ad-free broadcasting services start at $350 a month and cover 3,000 ad-free hours.
Through Google Video editor
Available through Ustream producer (free) and Producer Pro (paid).
Available through Procaster level (free).
Video source Through the browser.
(webcam or other compatible source)
UStream Producer desktop app.
(webcam or other compatible source)
Livestream ProCaster desktop app, with support for higher end ingest including Tricaster, and a Livestream wifi encoder (coming soon)
Archive options YouTube (Free, lots of exposure) Ustream server Livestream server
Interactivity 9 people can participate in videochat; unlimited people can comment/chat via G+ No video chat built in.
Chat feature allows users to pose broadcasters questions;
Social Stream allows users to tweet broadcasters.
No video chat built in.
Live chat, ability to tweet broadcasters, and ability to discuss live streams on Facebook.
Twitcam allows users to broadcast live streaming video using their Twitter accounts.
Social features Can be posted on your Google+ stream, YouTube channel or website
(Benefit from YouTube traffic)
Ustream Social allows users to connect Ustream to their Facebook Timeline. Very integrated through Facebook; is actually the official live streaming channel from the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto.
Copyright policies Listens for copyright audio, as broadcaster you are responsible for all participants’ content. Unclear what their monitoring mechanism is, but in 2010 they were sued by the Ultimate Fighting Championship and they handed over identifiable information on certain broadcasters. Livestream Content Verification Program limits all new free channels to 50 simultaneous viewers until they are manually authorized. Pioneered the first take down tool. Claims to have a zero tolerance policy on copyright infringement.

I’ll be playing with this a lot over the coming weeks, for myself, for clients, and for you! So bookmark this page, and be sure to subscribe to my Live Point newsletter for updates and new developments!

Let me know what you think of the new Google Hangouts on Air in the comments!

Posted in: Ideas, Interactivity, Prebuilt Players, The Basics, Web Video News

Leave a Comment (3) ↓


  1. Han May 15, 2012

    Great post Lisa. Tip: if you install a program like CamTwist, and select CamTwist as the webcam in Google Hangouts, you can include a lower third for your video, as well as do switching between your webcam(s) and desktop. For the masses that have not been let into YouTube Live, this is the closest we can get to using YouTube as our streaming service.

    • Lisa May 21, 2012

      Fantastic tip, Han! Going to give that a try. Always looking for another good use for CamTwist!
      // Lisa

  2. Peter March 20, 2015

    Thank you for the Tipps. I had got myself a plugin for WordPress to set up webinars and that only makes the timing, not the streaming (WebinarIgnition). Now with Google Hangouts and the Camtwist it seams to be possible to do a webinar for up to 9 people, right? This stream would show yourself or the desktop to explain software or show some powerpoint sheets right?


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