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Justin.tv, Inc.
Justin.tv screenshot.png
Web address www.justin.tv
Slogan "Streaming live video broadcasts for Everyone"
Registration Optional
Available language(s) Various
Owner Twitch Interactive(called Justin.tv, Inc until February 2014)[1]
Launched March 19, 2007; 7 years ago (2007-03-19)
Alexa rank negative increase 2,742 (April 2014)[2]
Current status Active

Justin.tv is a website created by Justin Kan, Emmett Shear, Michael Seibel and Kyle Vogt in 2007 that allows anyone to broadcast video online. Justin.tv user accounts are called "channels", like those on YouTube, and users are encouraged to broadcast a wide variety of user-generated live video content, called "broadcasts".

The company is an Internet startup based in San Francisco, California, with seed funding from Paul Graham of seed capital firm Y Combinator[3] and Series A funding with Alsop Louie Partners and Draper Associates.[4]

The original Justin.tv was a single channel featuring founder Justin Kan, who broadcast his life 24/7 and popularized the term lifecasting. In 2007, Justin Kan stopped broadcasting and Justin.tv relaunched into its current form as a network of thousands of various channels.[5]

Users are permitted to broadcast to an unlimited number of people for free, and watching broadcasts does not require user registration. Broadcasts that are considered to contain potentially offensive content are available only to registered users over the age of 18. Broadcasts containing defamation, pornography, copyright violations, or encouraging criminal conduct are prohibited by Justin.tv's terms of service.[6]

On February 10, 2014, Twitch.tv's and Justin.tv's parent company was rebranded as Twitch Interactive.[1]



Company history[edit]

Lifecasting origins[edit]

Justin Kan speaking at Gnomedex in 2007

The original Justin.tv was a single channel featuring Justin Kan. Wearing a webcam attached to a baseball cap and streamed online via a laptop-backpack system designed by co-founder Kyle Vogt,[7] Kan decided he would wear the camera 24/7, and he began streaming continuous live video and audio at midnight March 19, 2007.[8]

The novelty of the concept attracted media attention, and Kan interviewed with Ann Curry on the Today Show (April 2, 2007), Tom Merritt on the first episode of CNET Live, Nightline (April 6, 2007) and World News Tonight (April 8, 2007). His lifecasting project has been compared to EDtv, Being John Malkovich, and The Truman Show.[9]

Expansion into platform[edit]

In the summer of 2007, Justin.tv became a platform for more than 60 different channels.[10] The Directory at the top of each channel showed which channels were live and which were not broadcasting. Depending on the entry time, a visitor might have seen only a small selection of the available channels.

By August 2007, channels were being added at an average rate of two a day, with content covering both lifecasters and event streaming. The international locations range from Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and France to the Netherlands and Sweden. In some cases, a lifecaster might travel from one country to another, as was the case when Lisa Batey traveled from Brooklyn to Tokyo and Kyoto in 2007 and 2008. Not all the participants have mobile equipment, however, and most simply transmit an image of themselves sitting at their computer. During this same time frame, singer-songwriter Jody Marie Gnant and others began lifecasting on other websites such as Ustream, Stickam, Livestream, or began lifecasting independent of any major website.

On October 2, 2007, Justin.tv became an open network, allowing members of the public to register and broadcast.[11] By April 10, 2008, Kan stated in an Interview with Tom Merritt that Justin.tv had signed 30,000 broadcasting accounts.[12]

On March 14, 2008, Justin.tv added selectable Categories for broadcasters including: Featured, People & Lifecasting, Sports, Music & Radio, Gaming, News & Tech, Animals, Entertainment, Divas & Dudes.[13]

On Friday, June 27, 2008, Justin.tv added networks to the site, in which the user could make their own network with a forum, and officers that would act as moderators for the network.[14] On Thursday, March 25, 2010, these networks were removed from the site.[15]

On Monday, October 27, 2008, Justin.tv added Headlines which allows users to make reports on other broadcasters doing interesting things on the site, which then becomes edited and published for all users on the website to read and comment.[16]

For ease of use, a simplified redesign was introduced July 14, 2009.[17]

On Monday, April 5, 2010, Justin.tv changed the design of their archive page, renaming them to Past Broadcasts. Essentially all past broadcasts are saved as a clip, and deleted after 7 days. From the Past Broadcast you can highlight for permanent save.[18]

In June, 2011, Justin.tv separated its "Gaming" section to a new site, called Twitch.tv.[19]

On February 10, 2014, Twitch's and Justin.tv's parent company was rebranded as Twitch Interactive.[1]


Justin.tv's broadcasting and viewing is based on Adobe Flash. Users can broadcast directly from the site, with Justin.tv using Flash to auto-detect and stream from an attached webcam. Justin.tv also supports broadcasting using other third party software, most notably QuickTime Broadcaster, Camtwist, D3DGear Broadcaster, Flash Media Encoder, Wirecast, Open Broadcaster Software, FFSplit Broadcaster, XSplit Broadcaster and VLC, to allow broadcasters to add effects or stream higher quality video.[20][21]

Justin.tv has no default video quality setting; instead, it sets bitrate on a case-by-case basis by testing the broadcaster's available bandwidth. The broadcaster can also manually adjust the bitrate before going live. While broadcasting from the browser, the maximum quality settings are 1000 kbit/s for video and 44 kHz for audio. As a comparison, YouTube High Quality video are 400-500 kbit/s, and 720p high definition video is approximately 2000 kbit/s.[22][23] The 1000 kbit/s limit can be exceeded by using alternate broadcasting methods, such as Flash Media Encoder and Quicktime Broadcaster, and 720p video in H.264 has been broadcast by some users.

Following the Justin.tv re-design in July 2009, the default channel video size changed from a standard aspect ratio of 468 x 353 pixels to a widescreen 630 x 353 pixels.

Content accessibility[edit]

Like YouTube and other static video sites, Justin.tv allows each channel to be accompanied with an HTML snippet, which allows users to embed video onto pages outside the Justin.tv site.[24] Another snippet is given to embed the associated chatbox as well, thus allowing users to recreate the basic Justin.tv functionality on another page. Broadcasters have the option of disabling embedding for their specific channel.

Following the release of the API in August 2009, Justin.tv released Flash SWF files that allows developers to include Justin.tv video in Flash projects.[25]


While the primary Justin.tv site is in English, there is support for users to translate the site into other languages. Two languages (Catalan and Spanish) have been translated completely, and an additional 17 are over 50% translated.[26]


Although Justin.tv attempts to align its policies with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,[27] it has been criticized for failing to ensure that its users respect copyright law.[28] In August 2009, Justin.tv announced a deal with Fox to actively filter streams in real-time.[29] Justin.tv now uses a filtering system from Vobile to detect and filter out any infringing content, and remove the channel from the website.[30]

During the period when Justin.tv consisted solely of Justin Kan lifecasting, Justin became the target of several pranks. A viewer spoofed Justin's caller ID (publicly available on the site) using an IP Relay service. On March 21, 2007, the spoofer called the San Francisco Police Department and filed a false report about a stabbing in the apartment. The following day, someone reported a fire at the apartment. The San Francisco emergency services then put Justin.tv's number on a list which requires a confirmation call before responding to any emergencies.[31] Kan changed his number and kept the new one private.

In July 2008, TheDefaced.org, a computer security group, released a non-malicious cross-site scripting (XSS) worm onto the Justin.tv site. After successfully propagating the virus, TheDefaced.org contacted Justin.tv programmers and worked with them to fix the vulnerability.[32]

In 2011, the American sports promotion company Zuffa sued justin.tv for its users using the streaming service to watch pay-per-view matches of the UFC, violating certain trademark and copyright laws.[33] As of March 2012, the lawsuit is still on-going and justin.tv has had some of the charges dismissed partially because the site itself cannot be entirely held responsible for the particular uploads under scrutiny.[34]

Suicide broadcast[edit]

On November 19, 2008, 19-year-old Abraham K. Biggs committed suicide while broadcasting to a room full of viewers on his Justin.tv channel by ingesting an overdose of opiates and benzodiazepines. He was also struggling with bipolar disorder.[35][36] Biggs posted his suicide note online, as noted in The New York Times.[37]

The man's father, Abraham Biggs, Sr., says those who watched share some blame in his son’s death.[38]

Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel stated, "We regret that this has occurred and respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time. We have policies in place to discourage the distribution of distressing content and our community monitors the site accordingly. This content was flagged by our community, reviewed and removed according to our terms of service.”

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b c "Twitch parent company rebrands as Twitch Interactive". Mike Rose. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  2. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  3. Jump up ^ "Live From San Francisco, It's Justin Kan's Life". Npr.org. 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  4. Jump up ^ "About Us". justin.tv. Retrieved 2009-09-02.
  5. Jump up ^ Gonzalez, Nick (2007-10-02). "Justin.TV Teams Up With On2 And Opens Network" (in English). TechCrunch. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  6. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Terms of Service". justin.tv. Retrieved 2009-09-02.
  7. Jump up ^ "Kyle Vogt". Justin.tv. 2007-05-22. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  8. Jump up ^ "A Conversation with Justin Kan of Justin.tv". 10zenmonkeys.org. 2007-06-06. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  9. Jump up ^ Yang, Jeff. "Asian Pop: Man with a Cam" San Francisco Chronicle, March 27, 2007.
  10. Jump up ^ Guynn, Jessica (2007-05-29). "Can't get enough Justin? You can watch Justine: 'Natural star' ready to take on leading role in the latest around-the-clock Web show". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  11. Jump up ^ Gonzalez, Nick (2007-10-02). "Justin.TV Teams Up With On2 And Opens Network" (in English). TechCrunch. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  12. Jump up ^ Merritt, Tom. CNet Live. [1], April 10, 2008.
  13. Jump up ^ Kan, Justin. Justin.tv Blog. [2], March 14, 2008.
  14. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Blog: Biggest Release Ever!". Blog.justin.tv. 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  15. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Networks on the Justin.tv Blog". Blog.justin.tv. 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  16. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Blog: New Feature — Headlines". Blog.justin.tv. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  17. Jump up ^ Siegler, MG. "Justin.tv Redesigns To Make Broadcasting Easier And Chat More Obvious," TechCrunch. July 14, 2009.
  18. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Blog: New Feature Past Broadcasts". Blog.justin.tv. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
  19. Jump up ^ "TwitchTV Blog: TwitchTV Official Blog". http://blog.twitch.tv. 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  20. Jump up ^ "H.264". justin.tv. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  21. Jump up ^ "VLC Broadcasting API". justin.tv. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  22. Jump up ^ "How to encode your videos for YouTube's new High Quality Option". webvideotechniques.com. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  23. Jump up ^ "Encoding for YouTube 720p HD". webvideotechniques.com. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  24. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv FAQ". Justin.tv. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  25. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv API Wiki". Justin.tv. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  26. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv translate". Justin.tv. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
  27. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv DMCA policy". Justin.tv. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  28. Jump up ^ Deleon, Nicholas. "UFC Files Lawsuit Againt [sic] Justin.tv As It Tries To Elmininate Illegal Online Streams Altogether". UFC Files Lawsuit Againt Justin.tv As It Tries To Elmininate Illegal Online Streams Altogether. CrunchGear. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  29. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv signs deal with Fox, gets serious about copyright problems". businessinsider.com. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  30. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Placates Copyright Holders With Anti-piracy Tech". Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  31. Jump up ^ Arrington, Michael (2007-03-23). "Viewer Prank: Police Raid Justin.tv". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  32. Jump up ^ Danchev, Dancho (2008-07-14). "XSS worm at Justin.tv infects 2,525 profiles". ZDNet. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  33. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Not Guilty Of 'Stealing Cable' When Users Stream UFC Matches". Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  34. Jump up ^ "Justin.tv Wins Partial Dismissal of UFC Lawsuit, Case Still Ongoing". Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  35. Jump up ^ "ABRAHAM BIGGS: Abraham Biggs overdoses in front of webcam, dies". chicagotribune.com. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  36. Jump up ^ . "Gannes, LIz. "19-year-old Commits Suicide on Justin.tv," NewTeeVee, November 20, 2008". Newteevee.com. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  37. Jump up ^ Stelter, Brian. "Web Suicide Viewed Live and Reaction Spur a Debate," The New York Times, November 24, 2008.
  38. Jump up ^ 11:34 p.m. ET (2008-11-22). "MSNBC". MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-07-30.

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