Introducing A New Feature: Bandwidth Bastards
Bandwidth Bastards is a weekly dialogue published on StreamingMedia.com that takes an irreverent look at web video content—what media is making the most use of the worlds bandwidth pool, who is watching, where they're watching from, and how it got there. This week: The Michael Jackson Memorial.
Thurs., July 9, by Nico McLane
Companies Mentioned:
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Bandwidth Bastards is a weekly dialogue published on StreamingMedia.com that takes an irreverent look at web video content—what media is making the most use of the worlds bandwidth pool, who is watching, where they're watching from, and how it got there. This week, as this series debuts, the loss of global pop icon Michael Jackson set off a series of "predictions" of an internet brought down by the live global webcast of his memorial service—as the news of his death was made public, news sites and Google reported service-related issues, according to CNN and TechCrunch.com.

Nico McLane
Nico McLane

The anticipation of the live global broadcast of Jackson's memorial service caused great concern, media hyped the event and agencies feared the worst for internet performance. Let's just say, the internet was designed to be "military-grade rugged" by the Department of Defense and so... understanding that the internet doesn't rely on any single ISP, server farm, or network is critical to understanding why a single live webcast would not be able to "bring the entire internet down at any one time". I can wait a few hours to check my GMail if I have to, but the entire internet can't be brought down. Google and CNN are not the "internet".

This event was made publicly available to any broadcaster/webcaster that could "tap" into the live feed—it was made publicly available for free (no licensing fees as per request of the Jackson Family) via a partnership between AEG Live, LLC and The Switch. The last time an broadcast was made available in a similar manner was probably the Tribute to Heroes benefit concert after 9/11.

The sentimental loss of this pop icon was felt on a global level, but the final numbers that are still trickling in and chronically "updated" reveal the live webcast of the Obama Inauguration still had more live streams viewed—I have concluded that we will not in reality be able to reliably provide any accuracy of the viewers and broadcast numbers for this event—however, if you take a big picture look at what the CDNs and online broadcasters are reporting, it appears that most of the online viewers originated in America.

Of course, I viewed a live stream originating from Canada, but I am in NYC ... who knows if they counted me as an American viewer or a Canadian? But no matter how you slice it, most of the viewers watching the Jackson memorial online originated in America... and that, folks, makes America this week's Bandwidth Bastard!

A.M. Arno
A.M. Arno

Here is this week's dialogue discussing the media frenzy and reality of Bandwidth Bastard behavior between myself and Marketing Goddess A.M. Arno:

amarnoNYC (4:56:05 PM): So basically what this is saying is that the number of people who watched the Jackson memorial live broadcast is almost exactly the same number as Angelina Jolie's net worth....nice
nicoontheweb (4:57:02 PM): That's broadcasters, like on TV - The streaming media numbers are different. What I find ironic is that with a totally open, global broadcast that the numbers we are getting in still don't beat the Obama inauguration, it says a lot about what motivates someone to watch video online - Obama is the first black president, ever... I suppose, there are other pop stars in the world, and a lot of political events that maybe are of greater concern to the global audience.
amarnoNYC (4:57:11 PM): I could report anything - how can I confirm these numbers?
nicoontheweb (4:57:38 PM): You can't , but you can look at individual reporting services and take a best guess... since this was essentially free to distribute and there was no georestriction, any "joe streamer" could have broadcast online on their own little media server, and no one would know to count the 20 friends he sent that link to
amarnoNYC (4:58:45 PM): Nico your ghoulish "sooper buddy" is creeping me out...
amarnoNYC (4:58:54 PM): just so ya know ; )
nicoontheweb (4:59:29 PM): Such as Akamai, of course reporting their own usage, here - right now, after the event Akamai's stats report about 1.2 million live streams... what does that mean? During the event it hit 3 million? so it just more than doubled. How many of those live viewers were watching the memorial, they could have been watching anything and it would have come up in those live metrics.
amarnoNYC (4:59:40 PM): it's like Hell's Blowfish is making kissing faces at me
amarnoNYC (5:01:00 PM): is Akamai a company you have done business with before....
amarnoNYC (5:01:15 PM): Nico, seriously, drop the innocent act, what's with that little, animated Monster on your AIM?
nicoontheweb (5:01:21 PM): Oh!
amarnoNYC (5:01:24 PM): your AIM expression
nicoontheweb (5:01:28 PM): My monster
amarnoNYC (5:01:35 PM): with the red eyes and the great dental work
nicoontheweb (5:01:37 PM): Forgot about him! lol
nicoontheweb (5:01:40 PM): no way man
nicoontheweb (5:01:42 PM): hahah
amarnoNYC (5:01:57 PM): anyway Akamai
amarnoNYC (5:02:14 PM): and your relationship with them
amarnoNYC (5:02:17 PM): ?
nicoontheweb (5:02:33 PM): Yes, worked with them a few times over the years. There are only 7 degrees of separation between anything online and Akamai - they do more than streaming live media, so they come up a lot.
amarnoNYC (5:02:41 PM): Wow
amarnoNYC (5:02:52 PM): I must be at the 8th or 9th degree
nicoontheweb (5:02:56 PM): They do a lot more than Streaming media
amarnoNYC (5:02:57 PM): because I have been in the dark
nicoontheweb (5:03:03 PM): they host a LOT of web assets
amarnoNYC (5:03:06 PM): tres chic
nicoontheweb (5:03:42 PM): What is so cool about the Michael Jackson Memorial broadcast is that it was open to anyone who could pick up the feed! No licensing-The Obama inauguration was not open to the public and yet grabbed more viewers than the Memorial...
amarnoNYC (5:03:55 PM): yeah I was going to ask you about that! Let's face it Nico, Americans don't really value what they don't have to pay for...the more it costs the more important it is.
nicoontheweb (5:04:20 PM): THIS PROGRAM IS AVAILABLE ON A LIMITED BASIS AT NO COST, AND YOUR BROADCAST INDICATES YOUR AGREEMENT TO ABIDE BY THE FOLLOWING USAGE TERMS:
amarnoNYC (5:05:37 PM): And, of course the huge out pouring of public sympathy...
nicoontheweb (5:05:54 PM): Well, actually The Jackson Family commanded it so...
amarnoNYC (5:06:13 PM): Oh oh
amarnoNYC (5:06:22 PM): wait...I have something for you to see, along those lines
amarnoNYC (5:06:41 PM): check this out!
amarnoNYC (5:06:52 PM): POCKET CEMETERY for the IPHONE...Nico...Nico....I can send Michael a PRAYER from my IPHONE... and flowers...
amarnoNYC (5:07:19 PM): oh and I can bedazzle and customize Michael's tombstone....
nicoontheweb (5:07:22 PM): You are so thoughtful
amarnoNYC (5:07:35 PM): ...it's like the King of Pop Tamagotchi but he's already dead!
nicoontheweb (5:07:59 PM): Can you cry through your damn iPhone app! ?? Can it shed real tears???
amarnoNYC (5:08:31 PM): Well, tears are for those who have souls Nico...I'm in Marketing...I have no soul
amarnoNYC (5:08:39 PM): I DO have an IPhone
nicoontheweb (5:08:41 PM): Ahh, so I forget
amarnoNYC (5:08:47 PM): and I want to grieve in my own way
amarnoNYC (5:09:14 PM): I can make a Nico Tombstone
amarnoNYC (5:09:18 PM): creeeeeeeeeeeepy
nicoontheweb (5:09:32 PM): Cut that out! I feel violated, and we stray from the topic at hand!
nicoontheweb (5:09:35 PM): The stats are still being updated, oh boy!
amarnoNYC (5:09:35 PM): Interesting
nicoontheweb (5:09:50 PM): It's interesting that I feel violated?
amarnoNYC (5:10:00 PM): No, I was just thinking
amarnoNYC (5:10:27 PM): that the memorial was streamed without fees or branding
nicoontheweb (5:10:42 PM): right, except JustinTV did an ad overlay, tacky!
amarnoNYC (5:11:02 PM): but here an attempt to use MJ's death as a marketing means
nicoontheweb (5:11:19 PM): Yeah, IMHO it didn't work!
amarnoNYC (5:11:18 PM): seriously?
nicoontheweb (5:11:47 PM): Not enough hits on the live streams to beat out Obama, or Princess Diana for that matter
amarnoNYC (5:12:14 PM): That's almost as bad as tan VALDEMORT showing up at the Memorial
amarnoNYC (5:13:25 PM): I think that's the 6th brother they kept locked in the attic also known as BOTOXED VALDEMORT!!!!
You can't fool me with that tan VALDEMORT! And I think it's SHAMEFUL, exploiting the death of Michael Jackson to plug your movie opening next week!!! Shaaaaaaaaaame, shaaaaaaaaame!
nicoontheweb (5:13:45 PM): Now that is an argument in favor of geo-blocking!
amarnoNYC (5:14:39 PM): Nico - this is probably silly
nicoontheweb (5:14:49 PM): Yes, it is...
amarnoNYC (5:14:52 PM): No,this... I don't get how a Canadian host can stream a broadcast that is being shot in L.A.
amarnoNYC (5:15:01 PM): in order to stream the memorial service through connected servers?
nicoontheweb (5:15:35 PM): I had nice talk with my colleague Dave over at The Switch, and what happened is, that at the request of "The Jackson Family", the broadcast was made publicly available to anyone who could "tap into it"
nicoontheweb (5:15:45 PM): make sense of that schematic ARNO!
amarnoNYC (5:15:54 PM): ooooooooooooooh, looks pretty techie!
nicoontheweb (5:16:05 PM): If you can tap in to the feed you were able to stream it or broadcast as long as the terms were honored, they also provided a widget for easy webcasting
amarnoNYC (5:16:08 PM): Thanks Switch!
nicoontheweb (5:17:23 PM): So, back to Canada - every CDN is configured differently, according to their own philosophy
amarnoNYC (5:17:59 PM): I see
nicoontheweb (5:18:10 PM): some use algorithms, some use intelligent routing, some use a database of IP addresses and have hard coded paths for media to follow
nicoontheweb (5:19:25 PM): And I quote: Akamai's technology at its core, applied mathematics and algorithms - has transformed the chaos of the Internet into a predictable, scalable, and secure platform for business and entertainment.
amarnoNYC (5:20:00 PM): Did we see crashes during the feed for some streaming hosts?
nicoontheweb (5:21:36 PM): Yes, there were plenty of "issues" - it is still a lot of live streams even though not record breaking, I found that Limelight's feed was a bit better for the FLV and Akamai better for the "Silverlight" media players... But, there could be traffic anywhere on the internet that would affect the delivery of the video I was watching... I am on RCN in the heart of NYC's WallStreet Financial District, maybe peole were actually trying to do work while I was diligently monitoring this event ;-)
amarnoNYC (5:22:48 PM): Nico - how did the team at Switch factor into all this?
nicoontheweb (5:25:01 PM): The Switch has a series of video circuits that transmit and receive video feeds all over the US, also Canada and the UK (trying not to get too techie on you)
amarnoNYC (5:25:31 PM): Thanks babe, I appreciate that
nicoontheweb (5:26:10 PM): It looks like a web of cables that you can connect when you want to send the video from one place to another - like when you hook up your DVD player to your TV and you switch the input source from "cable box" to "DVD" player... kind of...
nicoontheweb (5:26:23 PM): But, here's another perspective
nicoontheweb (5:27:12 PM): There was a lot of build up, and the media went nuts - but just how interested are we in seeing this "show"
nicoontheweb (5:27:27 PM): I only watched to see the back end hold up...
amarnoNYC (5:27:54 PM): ...I love how the article casually mentions that Americans were the majority audience...implying the REST of the world had better things to do...perhaps involving creating their own memorial on their IPhone
amarnoNYC (5:28:19 PM): Yeeeeah, speaking of the show
nicoontheweb (5:28:25 PM): You always bring it home A.M.
amarnoNYC (5:29:00 PM): um, How the hell could the music at freaking Michael Jackson memorial be so AWEFUL? An I'm not hating on my boy Dave Matthews but did Michael really ASK for every upper class white guy to play at his funeral?? Seriously?
nicoontheweb (5:29:38 PM): Michael Jackson's memorial 2nd most-watched funeral ever, after Princess Di, says Nielsen ratings
amarnoNYC (5:31:09 PM): this HAD the potential to be one of the most viewed events in internet history
amarnoNYC (5:32:04 PM): Look at this! Magic Johnson said Michael made him a better point guard. I truly believe him.
nicoontheweb (5:32:38 PM): You are getting caught up in the moment... we can continue this conversation tomorrow!
amarnoNYC (5:34:09 PM): I cried a lot but the Kentucky Fried Chicken part did make me laugh..how cute is that .I want to eat KFC with you too, Michael...
nicoontheweb (5:34:12 PM): Ok Arno, enough of this. I am almost tempted to name YOU this week's Bandwidth Bastard! But, I take credit... on behalf of America. Thank you and good night A.M.
amarnoNYC (5:34:17 PM): Ok, fine.... Bye Nico!

NOTE: Thank you to The Switch and AEG Live for making this happen, behind the scenes.