On January 20th, CNN.com served over 21.3 million live video streams of President Obama’s Inaugural Address, breaking CNN.com’s previous daily-streaming record (5.3 million on Election Day). Page views swelled to 136 million. The CNN feed also included a sidebar that allowed Facebook users to comment live on the speech. Others watched on CBS.com, Washingtonpost.com or Boston.com. This deluge of simultaneous video streaming produced a few minor glitches on MSNBC.com (time lag) and Hulu.com (choppy) and took down some sites, such as the BBC. But, for the most part, inaugural video streamers pushed Internet bandwidth to the limit, and it held.
Search also played a major role in helping people find the inauguration video. Right before Obama was sworn-in, the top searches on Google included “inauguration day 2009 streaming,” “cnn inauguration,” “cnn live stream,” “live inauguration,” and “watch inauguration live online.” The rest of the top 10 searches on Google all related to the inauguration:
In terms of advertisers taking advantage of the huge spike in inauguration-related paid search keywords, it seemed as if Google wasn’t allowing advertisers to bid on those terms, perhaps out of deference to the new President. On Yahoo!, we saw advertisers using paid search to try to sell commemorative inauguration memorabilia, t-shirts, and coins. Some advertisers were even promoting the inauguration video:
Although no paid search ads were running on Google.com for the keyword “inauguration,” we did capture a few YouTube sponsored video ads that were running before the ceremony and also the next day:
YouTube was the place for people to watch Obama’s speech again, the C-SPAN version of the address garnering over 1.5 million views within 24 hours of the inauguration. Users could also watch the AP version of the video on YouTube or on Google News, where it was embedded in the search results for the term “inauguration video.”
The large-scale live streaming of the inauguration has set the new standard for live Web video. Massive demand, search and bandwidth all successfully converged the afternoon of January 20, 2009, ushering in a new President, and perhaps a new era of simultaneous live-video streaming.
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