In last week's column, I wrote about the possibility of President Obama's enabling a genuinely participatory democracy that would positively impact news media consumption. I also pontificated on the inevitability of the Inauguration setting records for viewing, streaming, listening and readership.
Little did I know.
As I sit in my hotel room at 2 a.m., various sources have reported and more have yet to do so. By the time you read this, you will probably have read other reports of the viewing figures for all the major TV outlets covering the Inauguration. But more remarkable than the likes of CNN possibly achieving its highest TV ratings ever is that company's staggering achievement in the number of live video streams it served during the day.
Having set a record on Election Day of 5.3 million live video streams, that was blown out of the water early in the day. Here's how the day panned out:
11:45 a.m ET. - According to early data, as of this time yesterday, CNN.com Live had served 13.9 million live video streams globally since 6 a.m. (Source: Omniture Site Catalyst, global).
1 p.m. ET- According to early data, as of this time yesterday, CNN.com Live had now served more than 18.8 million live video streams globally since 6 a.m. (Source: Omniture Site Catalyst, global). Additionally, CNN.com Live estimates it served more than 1.3 million concurrent live streams during its peak, which occurred immediately prior to President Obama's inaugural address. (Source: Internal CDN monitoring data).
3:30 p.m. ET - According to early data, as of this time yesterday, CNN.com had generated more than 136 million page views, while CNN.com Live served more than 21.3 million live video streams globally since 6 a.m, shattering its all-time total daily streaming record set on Election Day of 5.3 million live streams. (Source: Omniture Site Catalyst, global).
By 6 p.m., the total number of live video stream served by CNN.com had broken the 25 million mark -- an incredible achievement.
Arguably, the most interesting statistic above, however, is the "1.3 million concurrent live streams" at the peak of activity during President Obama's speech. That's 1.3 million people watching the same content at the same time from the same source. Not what we normally talk of with video streaming, where a given piece of content may be viewed by millions of people -- but not at the same time.
1.3 million viewers for any cable network would be a highly respectable number. For live video streaming, it is unprecedented -- and it may actually be the first time video streaming has actually crossed over -- albeit briefly -- into the realm of conventionally defined mass media.
Obviously the event itself was like the Super Bowl on steroids, and can't be taken as an indicator of growth to come. But maybe the behavior reflected in today's stats will result in some people forming something of a habit. In the same way that the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Britain was television's first mass media event (it drove purchase of TV sets and was the first time many people had experienced TV) maybe this Inauguration will be a seminal event for some.
Interestingly, according to Akamai Technologies, in the region of 7 million concurrent video streams were served around 12.15 p.m. - this makes CNN's share look pretty healthy.
According to the Washington Post, Facebook also had a good day, with over 1.5 million status updates posted through its integration into CNN.com by 5.30pm.
And no doubt some of the problems experienced on the mobile phone networks in the D.C. area were caused by those people around Pennsylvania Avenue who couldn't get a good enough view, so turned to their iPhones and BlackBerries.
All in all, it was a good day for emerging media in terms of sheer volume of use. Most of us would say it was a pretty good day for the country and the international community, too.