Inauguration Offered the Online Video Industry a Chance to Shine, Reassess
For instance, during the ceremonies I received several emails and chats from potential viewers who were trying to watch the stream at home or at work, asking why they had to download something to watch the stream. In the case of Silverlight, those who downloaded it were asking why, after a successful installation, Silverlight only displayed a blank screen. In all instances, once the browser was restarted, though, the standard-definition stream played fine.
Besides Silverlight, which performed well for those who installed it, two other key technologies were in wide use. Flash was used on a variety of sites, including Hulu, and Move was used on a number of sites. Like Silverlight, Move also required a download, but did not require users to restart their browser to view Move-enabled content.
On2 also got in to the act, noting that its VP7 codec was being used by Move. After inadvertently claiming that the PIC-chosen Microsoft Silverlight technology would be underpinned by a Move/VP7 combination, On2 then clarified its point: while the company's technology did not power the official Silverlight stream, On2's VP7 was used for several Move streams.
Viewers even had their choice of standard-definition and true high-definition feeds. HD streams, including a stunning Sky News HD feed that came in around 2Mbps, were less trafficked and had a slightly longer delay but provided a viewing quality almost on par with television.
Over the next few days, we'll continue to see announcements regarding the size and scope of streams viewed, probably ending up around 12 million global simultaneous streams. As with any major streaming event, too, technologies will be tweaked and game plans revised to continue to strengthen the streaming infrastructure—and to make live production content easier to send from camera to CDN. A case in point is the Inlet-Akamai announcement this morning that all codecs and all resolutions on Inlet's Spinnaker line of live encoders are now optimized to publish directly to the Akamai network. With the barriers to entry from a financial side removed over the last two years, the next focus has to be a lowering of the "knowledge cost of entry" to make live streaming as easy as, well, television broadcast.
All that being said, streaming of historic national events has come a long way since the first inaugural webcast in 1997. The majority of viewers of yesterday's events, from old hands to new viewers, clearly expressed the fact that streaming was a viable alternative for time- or place-shifting to fit the event into their busy lives. A marketing "tell" was also in evidence, as those who couldn't watch consistent streams noted on their Twitter or Facebook accounts that they were having to switch back to TV, meaning streaming has moved far beyond a novelty to become a choice on par with viewing content in the living room.
The CDN reported a record peak of 8.7 Tbps on Friday, serving 4.6 million concurrent live video viewers for its broadcast clients.
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