For anyone who hasn’t heard, there is a promising new live streaming service called Beam that is currently being built and tested. As of the time of this writing they are a couple months into their beta and largely being promoted via word of mouth. We will be publishing a follow up article with our initial thoughts on the service shortly but suffices to say we’re impressed. A lot of features that most would consider “extras” for Twitch are built into Beam from the start, so you don’t have to mess with setting up external services and programs if you don’t want to. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that transcoding (quality) options are available to all.
Matthew Salsamendi, the Co-Founder and CTO of Beam was kind enough to agree to do an interview with us and answer a few questions we had on the new live streaming service. For anyone interested in checking the service out, head over to Beam.pro and have a look!
Here is the interview:
Lift Gaming (LG): Hello there Matthew! Tell us a little about yourself, your background and what led to the creation of Beam.pro.
Matthew Salsamendi (MS):
Hey! Thanks for inviting me to do this interview. I’m Matt, I’ve been gaming practically since I was born! In 2011 I started MCProHosting
with my business partner James, and since then we’ve grown the company to be what is now the world’s largest game server provider; I also work on some fun projects like our convention (ArcadiaCon) or our YouTube Network (Rule). Last Summer, we were working on a project with a large group of YouTubers, and during the course of our discussion several of them voiced concerns about the state of the streaming industry. There simply wasn’t an option out there that truly allowed them to connect with their audience, and it seemed like the only big player in the industry was focused primarily on E-Sports and commercialized content. On the spot, we came up with the idea to create a streaming site for communities that’s centered around streamers. That’s where Beam came from!
LG: What is the overall goal of Beam? Do you view yourself as a competitor to Twitch or more of a general streaming site such as Livestreamer.com?
MS: Our biggest goal is to connect streamers to their audience in ways not previously possible. I don’t see us as a direct competitor to Twitch, at least initially. There’s bound to be some overlap, but we’re targeting a different market. Specifically, small to medium sized communities that care deeply about viewer experience and involvement. While the site is catered towards gaming, we’ve seen and allow all sorts of content (People have hosted cooking shows with their community on Beam! That’s pretty cool.)
LG: What sort of unique features do you have planned for Beam? I noticed you have Transcoding options to allow viewers to select the quality they like.
MS: The key to our philosophy is providing streamers with tools to engage their audience. That starts with super low latency streams (there’s only a 3 second delay between the time you do something and when viewers see it), we couple that with an awesome interface, a slick dashboard, chat polls, chat widgets, transcoding (quality options) for anyone that wants them, “gamified” streams (Beam points), and tons more. This is just the start, since we’ve only been around for 2 months, we’ve got a ton on our roadmap (Co-streaming, voice based chat commands, hot-key navigation, just to name a few)! I’d also like to mention that security is a big focus for Beam. All traffic on Beam is heavily encrypted, we’re using the world’s best hashing algorithm for passwords, and we have cool features like 2 Factor Authentication built into the site.
LG: What sort of other features will people with a paid Beam Pro account receive? Is there perks for both viewers and streamers who choose to support Beam with Beam Pro?
MS: As it stands, Beam Pro is primarily a way of supporting Beam development, but we do have some pretty cool perks for those that choose to do so! Firstly, Pro users don’t see ads anywhere on the site, they get a 2x Beam point multiplier, a chat highlight, and custom emotes. Most importantly I would say is that Pro users get early access to try new features and site updates, we want to reward those that support us.
LG: What sort of partnership opportunities will be available to streamers on Beam? One of the big draws to Twitch right now is the opportunity for streamers to make a living part time or full time through ad revenue sharing with Twitch (among other opportunities). What sort of business model will you employ and what monetization opportunities will streamers have at Beam?
MS: Our partnership model is similar to that of our competitors. We’re already testing sub buttons with a select group of streamers, but what makes us unique is the approach that we take towards fostering our partners. We want to focus specifically on helping our partners create quality content, so as we grow we want to provide them with industry connections and integrations that allow them to put on the best shows possible for their viewers. As far as revenue goes, we’re working with our ad networks and partners towards providing a 50/50 split of all revenue (between subs, ads, and other revenues).
Donations are not covered in the 50/50 revenue model. Streamers get to keep 100% of anything their viewers want to give directly to them, although we hope that streamers will communicate the importance of supporting the platform through subscriptions as well.
LG: Twitch has released their API so that people can make 3rd party plugins and services to interact with Twitch. Does Beam have plans to allow 3rd party programs and services to use the API?
MS: Great question. Fostering third party tools and integration is huge to Beam’s goal. We actually already have a fully featured API available – developers have created everything from custom stream alerts when users follow, to a Minecraft mod for Beam that integrates Beam and Minecraft chats. In the near future, we’re working to convert the entire Beam platform to be widget based. Widgets will allow developers to create custom functionality and features on the Beam site itself – anything from a complex giveaway system to a stream scheduling widget that allows viewers to opt-in to receive E-Mails for special events.
LG: What makes Beam a scalable service? Live streaming is a very popular thing right now and there’s potential for rapid growth, how is Beam equipped to deal with that and still maintain the same standard of service?
Scalability is a huge focus for us, especially early on. My key job at Beam is to ensure that the infrastructure that we’re creating is designed to work under massive load. Since we’ve spent the past 4 years scaling MCProHosting to be the world’s largest game server provider, I’ve learned a thing or two about managing large scale infrastructure! We’ve leveraged our existing connections with one of the best networks in the world (SoftLayer) to create a CDN for distributing video content with ultra-low latency. As it stands, we’re capable of serving hundreds of thousands of concurrent viewers with no significant bottlenecks! For those that are interested in learning more about the way we’ve designed our CDN, I wrote a brief document that’s available here
As far as our web interface goes, my team has put a great deal of thought into ensuring that no matter how large and complex the code-base grows we’re always able to iterate quickly on the platform and add new features and improvements for our users. Just like the widgets provide an easy way for developers to add functionality, we’ve created our codebase to be entirely modular. This makes it extremely easy for us to get features and fixes out extremely quickly without introducing what we refer to as “technical debt”.
LG: You’re currently in a beta testing phase correct? What comes next for Beam?
MS: You’re correct! We’ve been in Beta for 2 months now. Our current focus is on creating additional features and tools to add to the platform as well as updates to our mobile apps to ensure they have the same functionality you would expect from our web platform. As we go into the Summer, our focus is going to shift to preparing Beam for a large scale release, that starts with launching our partnership program, and then chatting with our connections in both the YouTube and streaming world to begin building viewership on the platform. For the time being, we’re already building some awesome communities on the site, stop by and say Hi!
LG: Thank you for taking time to answer these questions for our community at Lift Gaming. The community’s response to Beam so far has been very positive and we look forward to seeing where Beam goes and what opportunities for streamers Beam offers.
MS: Thanks for having me! I’m really excited for the future of Beam, and we’d love to have you along with us for the ride.
End of Interview
A bunch of people in our community have been testing out Beam.pro
and we have a discussion on the topic here
if anyone would like to weigh in. Matt has been awesome about trying to answer questions in the thread as well. Beam is absolutely a service we will be keeping an eye on, feel free to check out their roadmap here
. If you are interested in seeing Beam in action, there is a list of Lift Gaming community member streams posted in the discussion thread I linked and I will be testing it out myself at Beam.pro/superbadjuju