UStream is a video-broadcasting platform that lets anyone with a Webcam and a fast connection create their own live video show. It mixes a video stream with user chat, asynchronous commenting, and places for show creators to post archived clips and links to their other work. It's completely free to use and has been a launch pad for people looking to create video shows with no professional equipment or experience required.
What makes the service especially useful is that it blends live and archived footage seamlessly. Users can watch a show as it's happening, or simply go back and watch shows after they're off the air. The player can be embedded on third-party Web sites or sent to more than 20 social networks, and the service has also introduced an iPhone app. The free app lets you view live and prerecorded UStream content, search and browse through the library of shows, and chat with other users.
Along with its public-facing product, UStream also powers a private-label service called Watershed. This service allows groups to customize, both in look and feel, and limit the distribution to selected users. The UStream interface is clean and straightforward, though it feels a tad lacking somehow. In any event, it offers a simple option for broadcasting your own videos or checking out others', and at no cost to you.