Yesterday marked another milestone in online video's continuing evolution as 8 million concurrent live streams of Felix Baumgartner's Red Bull Stratos Mission were delivered (note that's according to YouTube, but has not yet been independently verified). I was one of those live streams, gathered with my family around my Mac watching the jump unfold on YouTube in full screen mode.
I figured a lot of people were also watching, so what really hit me was the quality of the stream - no buffering, no audio/video synch issues, no pixelation, nothing. Just a seamless high-quality feed for the full hour we watched. In my experience, that would be noteworthy even if only a small audience was tuned in and it was on-demand. The fact that it was done with 8M live concurrent streams seems quite significant.
There were a lot of different parties involved in making the live stream successful, starting with Red Bull Media House which with its partners created a high-altitude "flying production studio" with 35 moving and still cameras that brought back all the action from 23 miles above the Earth (during the final "egress list" check-off, the on-board camera really made you feel like you were sitting next to Baumgartner). For Red Bull, which underwrote Stratos as a branding play, the superb quality was a big win. YouTube was also an important partner, with its embeddable player available on all platforms, including mobile.
Another partner was Origin Digital (part of Accenture), which has quietly become a key player in powering live streaming sports, news, music and corporate events. Coincidentally I met up with OD's head of marketing Richard Yelen at last week's Akamai Edge customer conference and he explained how OD has differentiated itself from the pack of online video platforms by specializing solely in live streaming. It works closely with rights-holders who typically capture the action and hand it off to OD for encoding and distribution.
In April I interviewed CEO Darcy Lorincz at the NABShow, who explained how integral the cloud has become to OD's work flow, enabling it to scale up quickly and cost-effectively regardless of audience size. No doubt that was a factor in helping successfully deliver the Stratos video.
To be sure, few live events are going to attract a huge audience as a death-defying stunt, but the important takeaway for me is that Stratos showed the Internet now appears ready to handle them when they arise. That's a pretty exciting achievement for the online video medium.
For those of you who missed it, below is the 1 1/2 minute highlight reel:
Categories: Live Streaming