Finally confirming rumors of giving live video streaming a go, YouTube will be running a test with four partner sites today and tomorrow. The new platform will integrate live streaming directly into YouTube channels, offering a "Live Comments" module for users to communicate with the broadcaster. Broadcasters will simply require either a webcam or external USB/FireWire camera. The four partner sites in the initial test are as follows: Howcast, Next New Networks, Rocketboom, and Young Hollywood.

Google plans to use the results of this initial test to evaluate if and how it will roll out the platform more broadly to its partners worldwide. The company did not name names, but it's obviously not (at least currently) interested in letting just anyone offer a live stream. YouTube will need to show that it can handle multiple channels of video streaming and live user interaction simultaneously, and not simply for a single event. The current schedule, however, does not seem to have much overlap:

Google has had trouble expanding YouTube's content beyond user-submitted videos. With the end goal of making YouTube profitable, the search giant has dabbled in pay-per-view and video rental. While the company has done webcasts before, the last one being for the unveiling of Google Instant, this appears to be the first time YouTube has experimented with a complete live streaming platform.