Watch out, Ustream and Co: YouTube is expanding its live streaming offering

YouTube (s GOOG) took another big step towards fully embracing live video Wednesday: The video site opened up live streaming to a much larger crowd of publishers, allowing anyone who has an account in good standing and at least 1,000 channel subscribers to stream live on the site. The changes were announced on the YouTube Creator blog Wednesday, and they come conjunction with Google I/O, the internet giant’s annual developer conference.

YouTube first introduced live streaming two years ago with select partners, and has since gradually expanded the number of approved live streamers by opening up the service to nonprofits and other partners. The site has also been offering any Google+ user to live stream so-called Hangouts on Air, which are essentially Hangouts that can be watched by an unlimited number of users.

YouTube has been working behind the scenes for some time to make live streaming on its service more robust and attractive. It added the ability for select publishers to charge for live streams a year ago, and rolled out a completely revamped live streaming platform earlier this year.

YouTube’s announcement could put pressure on dedicated live streaming services like Ustream, Livestream or All of these companies at some point directly competed with each other for the live streaming masses, but most have since tried to differentiate themselves with their own take on live video: Justin spun out to double down on video game live streams, and Livestream has been moving away from pre-roll advertising towards native monetization.

Image courtesy of Flickr user kevindooley