Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Day Web Video Died

Yesterday was supposed to be a day when live video streaming thumbed it's nose at traditional TV broadcasting - ushering a new age of nirvana (and advertising dollars). DOH!

Beyond just my personal experience with it (see yesterday's column) - a lot of 0thers had the same experience - every URL hit within 20 minutes of the actual speech was met with a virtual waiting room. CNN's said - "Congratulations - You Made It! (...but so did everyone else)" and then it would put you in the queue for when some poor schmo dropped out.

After having a look at the numbers - I can understand why: alone served 21.3 million streams - with a peak of 1.3 million simultaneous streams. Geez... no wonder the video was jerky and continually dropped out.

Likewise, Akami, a company that mirrors content and provides "local" servers to spread out volume reported a peak of 5.4 million visitors per minute - and more than 7 million simultaneous streams!

Now that's some serious traffic. And, because I live in LA - I know what happens when lots of folks have the same idea and all want to go to the same place at the same time - traffic. A no-holds-barred, bumper-to-bumper, packet-to-packet jam that will only get better as people leave the highway.

Video over the Internet isn't ready for prime time - at ALL. By way of contrast the "traditional" broadcast media has the bandwidth and hard-wired infrastructure to push video out to a virtually unlimited number of people simultaneously.

It will get better, of course, as time goes on. As companies come up with new video codecs, compression and more companies like Akami add server capacity to the edges of the Internet. Oh, and hopefully when President Obama starts to re-wire the entire nation with a really good network - that'll sure help as well (fingers crossed).

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