January was a busy month in the UK for closures on the High Street with Jessops and HMV both filing for administration. Whilst HMV ex-employees were posting Tweets on an HMV account set up by an intern (which HMV’s marketing director shut down soon after), a much loved Social network was calling it a day after 7 years.
Stickam launched in 2006 just before Google bought YouTube, Facebook opened its doors to everyone for the first time and before people had even heard of Twitter. Stickam began life as a live video streaming service for anyone and everyone to broadcast themselves live. Stickam courted controversy very early on as they attracted bad press for pedophiles to engage and manipulate under age children on camera whilst YouTube was enjoying courting business through Google’s relationships with big brands. Stickam suffered further bad press as people found out that their parent company was using the same live streaming technology for their Adult entertainment websites. Their saving grace was the existing YouTube community whose online celebrities used Stickam to talk directly to their fans around the world in real time.
Myles Dyer was a YouTube star who started out on Stickam first, utilising the platform to gain a loyal audience for his pre-recorded video clips. Previous experience as a DJ for his University radio station helped Dyer keep the attention of a live online audience. But Dyer truly came to prominence online through his organisation of Stickaid, an annual fundraiser to raise donations for UNICEF for a 24 hour period. The fundraiser was hosted through the Stickam platform (and later, YouTube too) to great effect. It raised thousands of pounds by asking famous online celebrities to take time to make their own content and help Dyer for part of the 24 hour webathon. The 2010 edition of Stickaid broke many records, with more viewers over the period than channel 5 in the UK. It gained 3 Golden Twit awards for Dyer and the Stickaid cause.
So what fell apart for the platform? Well, the fairly unheard of Twitter and Facebook became huge, Google launched Google+ with live streaming functionality, Pinterest came out of nowhere and YouTube shared ad revenue with their top personalities. The other thing to consider is that it’s generally hard to keep people’s interest for live video content. Many YouTube fans tuned in to an hour with their favourite YouTube stars and found the content to be uninteresting or not in tune with the content that they slaved hours or days over for YouTube. With money a big incentive for top content creators, YouTube was a much higher consideration than most other platforms to bring in hard cash. Brands now hunt down online celebrities for sponsorship and partnership deals making the now professional YouTube celebrity time poor. Spare time would have to be spent elsewhere keeping up appearances on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+ and anything else that launches to stay engaged with fans.
Stickam offered no money, needed planning to make the time interesting and required promoting to tell people that they were going to be online at a certain time. Stickam also didn’t scale bringing in advertising from brands in line with the rising costs of maintaining servers, technology and staff to moderate live content. Advertisers preferred streaming content through a Facebook app or through Google+ Hangouts. Stickam did attempt to add additional functionality to the site with initiatives similar to chat roulette and YouTube, but this only served to increase costs rather than succeed in any capacity.
Stickam was once the most popular live streaming service on the internet, but it now joins the growing list of Social platforms that came and disappeared including Livevideo, Myspace, Getglue, Digg, Stumbleupon, MSN messenger, Bebo, Friends reunited, Friendster, Hi5 and WAYN. Like British high streets, those who innovate and understand their audience go on to bigger and better things, while the others fall by the way side. RIP Stickam 🙁