With global 8 netcast, TV broadcasting gets a new competitor

More than five million people watched the concerts live on AOL
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More than 5 million people tuned in online to watch AOL’s Live 8 coverage.

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.

More than 5 million people watched the concerts live on AOL. The company said its 175,000 peak streams was 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 2005.

Web users were able to receive quality video and sound without the technical problems that have plagued previous large-scale streaming media broadcasts. Keynote Systems, an Internet performance measurement company, recorded only minor glitches during the global broadcast on Saturday, July 2, the Associated Press reported.

AOL’s Live 8 coverage at www.aolmusic.com was described as the most challenging Web broadcast ever staged — akin 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 reams 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 showcased an interactive switching technology that distinguished its coverage of the concerts from that of traditional television outlets such as MTV. Viewers could manually switch between different concert feeds from London, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Toronto and a separate global feed that included footage from four other venues.

All the concerts are now available on AOL’s Web site. Recordings of specific performances will be available for six weeks.

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