ND, UStream, and Faith: the Evolution of Television

March 30, 2010

Posted in Marketing, Technology, and Web Industry.

In February, Notre Dame’s Alumni Association did something remarkable: it launched an interactive television program entirely online.

Tender, Strong, and True - Notre Dame Alumni Association.jpg

The program is called Tender, Strong, and True: Living the Gospel Daily. It’s a panel-format show discussing a topic of faith with academics and spiritual leaders. And through UStream, the entire world can join in the discussion.

Now UStream isn’t that new, and many of its uses are pretty old school: one-way streaming video to the rest of the world. But the real power is the ability to interact with the audience and for you viewers to interact with each other.

Duke got a lot of attention last year when a professor started doing online office hours. Karine Joly from CollegeWebEditor.com asks, “Who needs television when you can actually interact with experts at this level?”

While most Americans still watch many hours of television each week, the nature of TV consumption is changing. Millennials are watching less TV and using more Internet. My own experience involves sitting with my laptop while a TV rambles on in the background. I don’t really feel like I watch that much TV, but it’s frequently on. I consider that time as “online,” though it’s often called media multitasking.

UStream melds these by offering an interactive viewing experience. And it succeeds because the experience is not contrived—it’s organic because it’s up to the audience to participate and the presenter to engage with them. Schools have been streaming lectures and conferences live for years, but only recently did that become a two-way street. And services like UStream make it easy and affordable.

Like Duke’s online office hours, this digital form of television is a way to increase the reach of an otherwise limited format. An in-person lecture may reach dozens or hundreds of people. Streaming that lecture may be able to engage thousands. And an archived program can extend to hundreds of thousands or millions. How’s that for reach?


  1. Mike McCready — March 31, 2010

    That’s a great examples of using UStream. We are considering using it to stream our live events like athletic games, events, etc. We currently have a QuickTime streaming server which is on it’s last legs. I’m a big fan of leveraging technology (we use Flickr and YouTube for other media delivery) and think UStream is a logical choice.

    I remember watching live when Ashton Kutcher beat CNN to the 1 million follower mark on Twitter (I can’t believe I just admitted watching it live). He had it streamed live on UStream and then I turned to Anderson Cooper on CNN and they were still talking how it was close.

    We’re considering switching to UStream for all the reasons you mentioned above.

    Congratulations on the UStream success. I hope we find it effective too.

  2. chas — March 31, 2010

    We’re looking to upgrade our main streaming infrastructure, too. Our QuickTime and Windows Media streaming is maxed out, encoding is a nightmare, and we’re storing the files on the streaming servers themselves – which is at capacity.

    UStream is definitely on the list – I might email you to find out more about how you guys are doing it. Sounds like a great arrangement.