Streaming History

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.

 

 

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4 comments about "Streaming History".
  1. Walter Graff from Bluesky Media , January 21, 2009 at 2:58 p.m.

    News events always garnish more web viewing. We used to read the newspaper. Now we go to the web to 'see' the news. And with the hype surrounding the inauguration, it was just real busy.

  2. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace , January 21, 2009 at 3:31 p.m.

    I did not see the Inauguration. After having this election rammed down my throat these past two years I decided I had better things to do on Inaguration Day, so I went to Walt Disney World and spent the day at EPCOT. Judging from the crowds there I feel a lot of people had the same idea as I did!

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , January 21, 2009 at 3:42 p.m.

    Most web streams replaced TV viewing, nothing more. Had web streams never been invented, most of us would have taken a portable TV to work, or rolled a communal TV into a common space. The event was so important.

    But web streaming was invented, so we left our TVs at home. Had we had web streaming in earlier times, we would not have lugged our portable TVs to work to watch the World Series, for example, as many did for those daytime games.

    Therein lies the point. Businesses would have seen portable TVs as counterproductive to getting our jobs done, that we were goofing off on the clock, and told us to leave them at home. Having web streaming on our working screens defeats the world of commerce (except where streaming is blocked or forbidden); many people at work yesterday "stole" their on-the-clock hours as surely as if they had pocketed a stapler for use at home. But most businesses and schools simply looked away, because this event was important to at least 52% of the voters and probably quite a few of the percentage who voted for McCain.

  4. Frank Maggio from 7.TV, LLC , January 21, 2009 at 5:23 p.m.

    Mike - Please pass the Kool-aid...