This past weekend's worldwide Live Earth concert might eventually impact the rising water level caused by melting glaciers, but it has already been a "watershed" for simultaneous video streams.
By Saturday afternoon, MSN said it had set a new record for the "most simultaneous viewers of any online concert ever," with 10 million streams.
The event represents a "milestone in live Internet broadcasting," said Joanne Bradford, MSN chief media officer. She predicted "an even greater number of streams" as viewers return to watch on-demand footage of the performances of about 100 artists, which will be available at LiveEarth.MSN.com for the next several weeks.
MSN product manager Karin Muskopf said the previous record holder for simultaneous online viewers was AOL's coverage of the Live 8 concert in 2005. Both Live 8 and Live Earth were produced by a company called Control Room, which has said that Live 8's after-event clips, with more than 100 million streams in the six weeks after the performances, had even more impact than the live events.
This landmark in streaming volume was driven not by technology but by people's interests, noted Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis. "What interests me more than these sheer numbers," Shimmin said, "is the global participatory nature of the Internet," and the impact that is possible from the "dissemination of music." He said the record would probably tumble "in the near future" in events hosted by Yahoo, Google, or directly by MSN itself.
He pointed out, however, that the 10 million streams don't necessarily mean 10 million viewers because it could include the same viewer replaying a stream, or stopping one stream and starting a new one later. Shimmin also said that he thought some viewers found the streams "a bit choppy," and that the total load "strained Microsoft's hardware a bit more than they are letting on." There were news reports Sunday that some viewers were having problems.
Seven Continents, Eight Cities
Live Earth presented 24 hours of music, with concerts in 8 cities and on all 7 continents, to promote a worldwide call to action against global warming. Featured artists included Madonna, Metallica, Beastie Boys, Crowded House, Sarah Brightman, Snoop Dogg, Genesis, Black Eyed Peas, Duran Duran, and many others.
The concerts were presented in partnership with several environmental groups, including the Alliance for Climate Protection, The Climate Group, and Stop Climate Chaos, and were supported by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, for whom global warming has become a signature issue.
The concerts featured several business partnerships, including Philips, which introduced the first energy-saving light bulb in 1980, PepsiCo, which has committed to making eco-friendly packaging, and DaimlerChrysler's Smart, a maker of highly-efficient cars. Other involved businesses included Esurance, The Absolut Spirits Company, and Intelsat, as well as NBC, MSNBC, and MSN.