Live 8 historic “tipping point” for streaming media

More than five million people watched the concerts live on AOL at some point in the day
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Equal to a network Super Bowl or Olympic broadcast, AOL’s Live 8 coverage was a challenging Web broadcast.

Time Warner’s America Online broke Internet records in delivering seven separate television feeds to 175,000 simultaneous users from the global Live 8 concerts earlier this month. Most significant of all, Web users were able to receive good quality video and sound without the technical meltdowns that have haunted previous large-scale streaming media broadcasts.

More than five million people watched the concerts live on AOL at some point in the day, the New York Times reported. AOL said its 175,000 peak streams were nearly 40,000 more than the prior record for an online video event, which was set by a global Chinese New Year celebration in February.

Keynote Systems, an Internet performance measurement company, recorded only minor problems during the global broadcast on Saturday, July 2, the Associated Press reported.

Bill Wilson, AOL’s senior vice president for programming, called the event a “tipping point” in the history of steaming media and consumers’ willingness to embrace it.

Already being termed a milestone in the development of streaming video, AOL’s Live 8 coverage was a challenging Web broadcast — equal to a network Super Bowl or Olympic broadcast. That meant posting a crew with a satellite uplink at each of the 10 concert locations and assigning a crew in Los Angeles to collect and process the streams of data coming in from around the world.

After the color and sound of the video feeds was adjusted, the footage was encoded and sent to servers throughout the United States and Europe, which fed live streams to viewers’ computers.

AOL switched among different concert feeds from London, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Toronto and a separate global feed that included footage from four other venues.

The Live 8 broadcast was an important part of AOL’s efforts to turn its Web portal into a free, advertiser-supported site instead of a closed service catering merely to subscribers.

For more information, visit www.aolmusic.com.

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