With the announcement from YouTube today, Coachella made an announcement of its own today saying that a few select performances from the annual performance in Southern California will be live streamed in 360 degrees. In addition to 360-degree streaming, the Google/Alphabet property announced that it would offer spatial audio at scale making YouTube the first to offer both at the same time.
YouTube explains spatial audio
Spatial audio is a fancy way of saying the sound you hear will be the same way the way people there actually heard it. Or, it’s what you would get if you were actually there where the stream is coming from, “where depth, distance and intensity all play a role,” writes Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer for YouTube on the company blog.
While Google Cardboard has offered spatial audio already, this roll-out is considerably bigger, but hardly the news that is live 360-degree video streaming.
For now, spatial audio will only be made available for select videos so Coachella’s announcement has nothing to do with spatial audio. Additionally, at this moment, spatial audio is only available to Android users and only possible with headphones.
While YouTube is in it for the content and has no interest in charging its users for the privilege of live streaming 360-degree content, that’s not to say it won’t cost customers to deliver this content. Firstly, those providing this video will be splashing out a fair amount of money on a camera in order to film in this newly offered standard.
More announcements from YouTube and 360-degree video
Beyond live streaming in 360 degrees, YouTube is now supporting resolutions of 1440p 60fps for live streamed video. That gives content providers about 70% more pixels than “old-timey” HD of 108p. This will not only benefit live streams but video game streams on YouTube Gaming that continues to grow in the shadow of Twitch, one of its competitors.
The brilliance of the new 360-streaming is that users don’t require additional hardware, though a headset will had to the experience. You can watch VR video on YouTube but without headsets or viewers, you’re really not getting the VR experience.
YouTube also opened up its “Live API” today to developers and, more importantly, camera manufacturers in order to take advantage of YouTube’s Live Streaming API and send 360-degree live streams to the the video depository and now live network.
In order to begin supporting 360-degree live streams, YouTube reportedly worked with ideoStitch, Two Big Ears, ALLie, Vahana VR and Orah 4i and other software and camera companies.
No cost trial in certain cities
YouTube recognizes that while they want content and others wish to provide it, doing so costs a pretty penny so its offering potential creators of 360-degree content to try out equipment at its YouTube Space locations in L.A., New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, among other cities.
YouTube grows more and more and while 360-degree video is unlikely to change this growth significantly, it’s content that YouTube knows younger users want and they want it now.
The streaming service and video library has been making massive moves to provide more than your simple video that is still the bread and butter of YouTube. Limited support for 360-degree video began last march, while November saw the company embrace VR videos that all Cardboard users can use.
While YouTube is likely losing money in the short run, that certainly won’t last as more and more demand this augmented content.