Reaching for Cyber Stardom

February 25, 2008 8:46:06 PM PST
It's not just YouTube anymore. Dozens of video websites with a twist have come on the scene courting a new wave of sophisticated, "live" internet broadcasters.

Whether it's a cooking show, or a singer, you can't escape them-- new websites with webisodes.

It may look like a Hollywood production, but one spoof on movie trailers was shot, produced and edited by freshmen at Columbia College.

"We want to get to the point where we can make money and pay our way through college," said Aaron Fronk, internet live broadcaster.

Their comedy skits are on, where they can present them "live."

"In this day and age it's really nothing out of the ordinary," said Vinny DeGaetano, internet live broadcaster.

And the live feeds get live feedback. Viewers use instant messaging to comment on what they see.

Sixteen-year-old Austin Davis plays his keyboard and reads poetry for the world, all live from his bedroom on the city's Southwest Side.

"I have a dream to become an actor, so I figured, why not start with something?" said Austin Davis, internet live broadcaster. And his pre-produced videos may be funny, but they're nothing to laugh at.

"The production value has gone up quite a bit," Davis said. "So many people have a web show it's getting competitive just to be on the internet now!"

YouTube still dominates the video web world with close to 70 million users. But it doesn't have live capabilities and the maximum video length is 10 minutes. Because of the limitations, alternate sites have gained ground. and Stickam also offer live broadcasting.

And is looking for longer shows that target a young male audience, like a reality series that features two brothers who are former Bears players. offers the chance to make money by sharing ad revenue.

No matter which site they chose, hopeful cyber stars have the same goal.

"I hope the audience likes my videos and I hope my viewers go up," said Davis.

His wish may come true. A recent study by a research and analysis media group found that, in just the last year, online video viewership for young adults rose 28 percent. But experts say original online content is a medium of its own and that it's not becoming an alternative to watching TV.


Video and live broadcasting websites