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Yahoo (sort of) launches a live video-streaming service

Company kicks off a uStream competitor, but without giving it enough servers to survive the first night.

Yahoo dropped on Thursday night a new service on the world: Yahoo Live. Conceptually it's very much like uStream and other live video-streaming products. Anyone can set up a video channel and embed the player (though, oddly, not the text chat that goes with it) on their own page.

One of the really cool features of Yahoo Live is its multi-camera viewing panel. In addition to the video feed you tune in to, four other video channels--of other people watching the same stream you are--appear below the main video. You can jump to those channels quickly, and change the lineup of the secondary video channels by selecting names from the main video's chat window.

Talk to the hand. Not all streaming video channels are fun to watch.

Yahoo is launching the service with an API, allowing people to mash up their own streaming video services. That's very cool, and unusually forthcoming. Most services don't go public with APIs, if ever, until the site has been live for a little while.

Unfortunately, Yahoo Live launched with a serious capacity deficit. I had the service go from functional to "our servers are smoking" several times when the user count broke about 800. Hey, Yahoo: This is why the private beta was invented. If you don't want to put Yahoo-sized capacity into a new product, don't pretend that it's ready for a public viewing.

No word yet on how Google/YouTube will react, or whether a mobile version will appear.

See also: Justin.TV, Kyte, Qik, Flixwagon, Comvu, Mogulus, and Operator11. Care to lay odds on which, if any, can survive independently, or which will get acquired by Google, Facebook, or MySpace?

Track Yahoo Live's progress on the site's blog.