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Hundreds of thousands watch Whitney Houston funeral live online

February 18, 2012
Whitney Houston funeral

Image from pool camera at Whitney Houston funeral.

Few funerals get shown in their entirety on CNN, in fact, it’s usually only heads of state that would receive such coverage. The three hour and forty-five minute funeral of Whitney Houston was not only shown live from beginning to end on CNN, but also on CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, Fuse, and the E! Network, and those are just the channels I counted after a cursory scan.

One camera was placed in the back of New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, and that camera supplied the feed for all networks. That same camera provided the feed for internet streams of the funeral. Two primary hosts for the live stream of the Houston funeral were Livestream and UStream on the Associated Press’ live channels on those sites. Because these feeds could be embedded on other sites, viewers were able to access the stream in many ways. Yahoo, TMZ and other sites also originated the live feed from other streaming providers. The numbers are yet to come, but Live Stream Digest observed the concurrent viewer numbers on Livestream topping 150,000 viewers while UStream had more than 88,000. Those streams hit their peaks during a performance by R&B singer Alicia Keys.

With so many opportunities to watch this funeral on television, at least hundreds of thousands chose to watch Whitney Houston’s “Home Going” live online.


McCartney on iTunes Live ends strong

February 10, 2012
Paul McCartney on iTunes Live

Paul McCartney debuted his new album "Kisses on the Bottom" on iTunes Live

In a week that saw Paul McCartney’s music pulled from web streaming services like Rhapsody, and on the day his star was unveiled on the Walk of Fame, McCartney pulled up a stool in front of an old Neumann microphone in an oversized Capitol Records recording studio, with Diana Krall and her band and a full orchestra (and an audience not quite so big as the orchestra) to debut his new album “Kisses on the Bottom.” It was also a debut, of sorts, for iTunes live, iTunes live streaming service that delivers an HD stream to computers and AppleTV. Of course, Apple has streamed live content via iTunes before. Last year’s iTunes Festival is one example. This is, however, the first time that an iTunes live stream could be played through AppleTV, and all of the past streams have received little publicity as betas.

To view Sir Paul, I watched via iTunes on my MacBook Pro (equipped with a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor). After three minutes of a black screen, then a few freezes and about two minutes where the audio did not sync with the video, at twelve minutes into the webcast I had a clear, uninterrupted picture with perfectly synced audio that remained for the rest of the stream.

Since I wasn’t really set up for a multi-platform test, I decided on the next best thing: I called my mom in Little Rock, Arkansas, and told her about the stream. Since my mom is of the Beatles era, and because McCartney’s new album includes selections from the great American songbook (like “Paper Moon” and “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”), I knew my mom was a key demographic for the music.

“Oh, I’ve already purchased the album on iTunes,” she said. “Of course I’ll tune in.” I listened on the phone as she connected using her MacBook Air. She had a few freezes at the beginning, then she had a smooth stream. I told her how to go to full screen view and she watched the rest of the performance. After it was over she texted me “I loved it, warts and all. Reminded me of an unrehearsed jam session.” I called her back to ask about the warts and they were not technical. She noticed missed notes and what Randy Jackson would call a few “pitchy” moments, but her stream worked flawlessly.

One AppleTV bulletin board reflected problems by viewers unable to locate “iTunes Live” as an internet option, but many seemed to resolve the problem by re-booting.

I did attempt to connect on my iPhone, but could not find a mobile stream.

I don’t want to say too much about the content as I’m not a music critic, but one of the problems of this new world of not-quite-television, is that no one acted as floor director and poor Paul and band did not know how to end the program. “Are we off the air?” he asked before correcting himself, “It’s not air, it’s net.” He and the band sat awkwardly for a few minutes before deciding to play one more song. At the end of the “encore,” one credit went up on screen: “Directed by Jonas Åkerlund,” and the picture faded to black. After about 90 seconds of black screen, a brief video showing the Walk of Fame star ceremony came on unannounced. Not great television, but what those of us who watch live streams have grown to expect.

The obvious question: How will Apple use this technology? Is it simply a marketing technique to draw attention to artists, albums, and songs, or will we see a monetized iTunes Live in the future? The numbers aren’t in yet, but it will be interesting to see how many tuned in to the McCartney stream and what the overall experience was like. Just four days after the first ever live streamed Super Bowl (which received mixed reviews), it does seem that the bigger media companies are willing to step out into the realm of the unknown and experiment with streaming to larger than ever live audiences. And as the technology catches up with the demand you can bet that they’ll figure out away to get paid.

Will live streaming make BitTorrent legit?

February 9, 2012

Accounting for more than 11% of all internet traffic, BitTorrent is a major p2p operator and an innovator in moving large chunks of content through the interweb’s already crowded tubes. As laudable as that is, British market research firm Envisional claims that BitTorrent also moves just under 50% of all copyright infringing content being distributed on the internet. Add to the mix the recent shutdown of cyberlocker Megaupload and the continuing push by the entertainment industry to pass SOPA and PIPA, BitTorrent finds itself in a constantly beleaguered role.

Never-the-less, the technology used by BitTorrent is among the most innovative at dealing with some of the biggest problems faced by streamers: net congestion, latency, and stream quality. CNET’s Seth Rosenblatt has spoken to BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen about what BitTorrent brings to live streaming. LSD’s takeaway: “BT Live scales very well, with projected modeling showing a 4- to 4.5-second delay for up to one million peers.”

So, the promise is a better delivery technology for an overall better viewing experience, including events where viewership could possibly climb into the millions. The question remains, would this proof of concept bring a new-found legitimacy to BitTorrent and raise it above the stigma of piracy enabler? LSD hopes so, because LSD loves disruptive thinking.

What is Live Stream Digest?

June 10, 2011

What Live Stream Digest is:

Live Stream Digest is the place to find out about live streaming content. If you want to know what, who or when, Live Stream Digest will let you know.

If it is delivered over the internet and you can watch it for free, by pay-per-view, or by subscription, we’ll tell you about it.

Live Stream Digest will provide previews and reviews of Live Stream Content and will present articles about content production and the business of live streaming.

Live Stream Digest will bring you listings of sports, entertainment and business streams. Want to know when your favorite CEO will deliver their next keynote? Looking for links to soccer, bicycle racing, college and professional sporting events? Want to find out when your favorite band will be streaming their next live performance? Live Stream Digest knows.

What Live Stream Digest is not:

Live Stream Digest is not a site for people who speak only tech lingo. If we need to drop tech-speak in our articles, we will strive to define our terms and let you know why they’re important.

Live Stream Digest does not list live satellite events that are not also available as an internet stream to end users. So, live events from the Metropolitan Opera beamed into movie theaters will not be listed here, but when the Met streams an event live on the internet, we’ll tell you about it.

Live Stream Digest is not owned by an internet video content producer, or technology company. Yes, we are professionals with years of experience in streaming media and journalism, but we do not intend to see you only one product. It is our goal to list every live stream in the areas of entertainment, sports and business that we can find out about. If you know of a live stream that is not listed here, let us know here.