Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama Inauguration Online, Live Streaming and Social Media Defines Inauguration Coverage

Everyday since the 2008 Primary Election season during my commute to work I've seen a McCain/Palin poster on a hill off the side of the highway. It's been prominently displayed in clear site and with the outcome of the election decided months ago it's a symbol to a lost cause, a daily reminder of the political battle between hope and fear. But we all know that hope prevailed and that all led up to inauguration day.

Where were you when Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States of America? Did you watch it online? Were you on Facebook? Twitter? Friendfeed? Did you watch it on TV or listen on the radio? While the world watched with anticipation, the day came and went and history was made right before our eyes.

For many Americans it was just another day of work and chores and for many it was a time of celebration. "The end of an error." as @Stranhan wrote on Twitter as the cast of characters from the political stage -- former Presidents and First Ladies, political leaders and, the old and the new guard came into the picture and took part in the great demonstration of democracy.

For me, I had to work and it was my job in corporate video communications to distribute the live feed from our DirectTV system into several of our regional office conference rooms and out to our private videoconferencing network. Our IT department had blocked all Internet ports to streaming and social media sites so our videoconferencing help desk line was ringing off the hook with last minute requests to connect to the broadcast. I know a lot people that took the day off to watch it with family, friends or in public squares. Here's the view from our master control room where I watched the inauguration. It's certainly not a high quality image but it's a historic moment in time from my point of view.

Now that the Obama administration has completed its first day in office I think it's time for that McCain/Palin sign to come down.

I didn't get to view any of the live streams from CNN, CBS, Hulu or other sites but the numbers are in and from what Dan Rayburn said CBS had the best online video viewing experience. Pete Wylie of Fierce Online Video said, " reported streaming 21.3 million online video streams in nine hours yesterday, reaching 1.3 million simultaneous streams, according to the New York Times. Akamai, a content delivery network that handles video traffic for many major media sites, said it delivered more than 7 million streams at once during Obama's inaugural address. These figures topped the previous high, set during Election Day 2008... and also experienced heavy traffic, streaming 14 million and 5 million online videos respectively during the ceremony, according to the Boston Globe."

Mashable posted a detailed analysis of the social media effect, By the Numbers: Inauguration Day's Impact on Social Media, with visuals showing the peak numbers during Obama's swearing in ceremony.

While I haven't been able to read through all my RSS feeds, here's a sampling of what I read from the blogs:
  • Reviewing the inauguration live streams - Lost Remote TV Blog - Wow, what a day. Millions of people at work during the inauguration punched it up live on the web, creating record traffic surges and a fair amount of glitches spanning news sites and CDNs. Dan Rayburn compared the live inauguration streams and posts his reviews right here. The best according to Dan? The CBS O&Os, which our own Kent Chapline reviews below. So, the inauguration was far and away the largest live streaming event in history. Or was it? “While this is a question many want to know the answer to, it’s one that nobody can truly answer,” writes Rayburn, who says a lack of unified historical metrics is to blame.

  • Inauguration Online Video Recap: Records, Innovation, Loss Leader | Online Video Watch
    No surprise we saw record numbers for online video viewing during yesterday’s Inauguration. But while it was a banner day in terms of traffic and innovation, it also showcased the utter inability of media to monetize the massive amount of video being delivered. From my personal experience, just about every site appeared to run into issues between 11:45 AM when Akamai reported peak traffic of 5.4 million visitors per minute for news traffic and 12:15 PM when Akamai served more than 7 million peak concurrent streams suggesting there may have been some backbone scalability issues.