Bonnie Cha

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YouNow Gives Stage to Internet’s Wannabe Stars, Leaves Judgment in Your Hands

27895421_c5m5QKShows like “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have unearthed some great (and not so great) talent. But not everyone gets their 15 minutes in the TV spotlight, so a service called YouNow is looking to provide it to the rest of the world, with a talent show for the Internet.

YouNow CEO and founder Adi Sideman and a colleague joined AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka at the D: Dive Into Media conference today in Dana Point, Calif., to demo the service and its mobile app, which Sideman said hosts more than 500 hours of “curated content” each day.

Launched in September 2011, YouNow allows people to perform online via website and app, and to receive real-time feedback from an audience that can encourage them or boot them off the air.

Sideman showed the conference audience a live clip of a singer named Michael performing for YouNow’s users.

“If the audience likes Michael, they give him the green thumbs-up, and he stays on-air,” Sideman said. However, if YouNow users give him the thumbs-down, the next person in line behind him moves up into the broadcast slot. Fifty different channels, each with their own broadcast spot, are live at the same time.

The most popular performers are promoted on a daily leaderboard, and earn points toward prizes. But their biggest reward is new followers on their social networks. That’s all part of Sideman’s vision for the future of the television experience: One that combines broadcasting with social gaming and social networking.

Sideman added that people in the YouNow queue are three things at once — performers, viewers and voters. “We’ve built a social engine that guarantees an audience to each person,” he said.

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