Testing, testing. Is this thing on? Google is launching a feature that lets anyone broadcast Google+ Hangouts live over the internet. Finally, a social network with some voyeurism!
Dubbed Hangouts On Air, these video chats can be streamed to as big an audience as you'd like (or can attract). It's a really cool feature, previously available to a small number of users. Anyone who feels like they have something worthwhile to say can use this to get their ideas out there (provided that they have a YouTube account that has never been flagged for copyright infringement). The Hangout will be automatically recorded then uploaded to YouTube, so people who weren't tuning in can check it out later.
It seems like an interesting way to further leverage Hangouts, one of the best parts about Google+, and a very neat way to foster connections and communication. The only problem is you might be streaming to an audience of no one. Very few people use Google+. In fact, those that are logging on are only spending about three minutes a month on the platform, compared to the six or seven hours they're spending on Facebook. While Google has boasted about impressive numbers of registered accounts, the percentage of people that are actually actively using its social network is pitifully small.
Earlier this month Google+ rolled out a nice redesign, and Hangouts On Air is an enticing feature, but it's doubtful that it will significantly rouse the sleepy town that is Google's social network. [Google Blog via GigaOm]