YouTube tests live streaming video platform

Trial partners include Young Hollywood, Howcast

Google's YouTube is looking to explore the live streaming space more closely by launching a trial for its own streaming technology with four new media partners this week.

The live streaming platform of the online video site gets a preview in a two-day trial beginning today, but is expected to later expand considerably, the Associated Press reported.

YouTube's four partners are celebrity-focused Young Hollywood, online video firm Next New Networks, how-to guide Howcast and Rocketboom, a culture vlog.

"This is just an initial trial, a first step," YouTube product manager Josh Siegel told the Associated Press. "We're going to look at a whole bunch of data about the performance of our new platform and then, based on that, make decisions about how we'll open it up, with the goal of opening it up to all of our partners over time."

Chris Hamilton, a product marketing manager at YouTube, said live streaming is "a natural evolution to online video" that "adds an extra level of engagement" for the site's audience.

For the last two years, YouTube has offered various events live, including a U2 concert and President Barack Obama's first State of the Union address.

But for those, it relied on third-party technology.

Ustream is widely seen as the current leader in live video, with 3.2 million unique viewers in July, according to the AP. Measurement firm comScore recently said the time Americans spend watching major live video sites grew 648% in the past year.