According to a report from BuzzFeed, YouTube is developing a new 360-degree live video service. ‘Multiple sources’ informed the publication that the Alphabet-owned video streaming company is looking to expand its existing lineup of 360-degree and VR content by enabling live broadcasting.
Before it launches the service, YouTube reportedly has many obstacles to overcome. Live 360-degree videos would require an advancement in editing technology, camera technology or both. Current non-live 360 videos use footage from multiple cameras, which are stitched together after shooting. With live video, that option isn’t easily available, not without compromising on video quality. YouTube would either need to rely on camera setups which can shoot and stitch almost simultaneously (like the 16-camera GoPro Odyssey rig), or develop a software which can stitch together feeds from multiple camera types in real-time.
Currently, there are 360-degree cameras which can live-stream content, but most of those aren’t anything like broadcast quality. And demanding that everyone buy something like the Google JUMP program-funded 16-camera GoPro rig is highly alienating. Instead, YouTube wants to develop a platform for live-broadcasting 360-degree videos, not just restrict it to hardware it has already approved and has in-depth technical knowledge of.
Bringing live 360-degree video to users, however, would mean ingesting feeds from all sorts of cameras. And that could prove a daunting task without prior knowledge of each camera’s specs and idiosyncrasies — or the ability to identify them on the fly.
Although there are clear technical hurdles, it certainly seems like a logical next-step for YouTube. With it having made its streaming service VR/Cardboard-friendly within the past few months, it would make sense to give live video streams the same capabilities.
No specific timeline has been offered for when YouTube might launch this new live service. But when/if it does, it’ll be interesting to see how the company has solved its tech problems to make the broadcast option available to as many people as possible.