Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Felix Baumgartner’s Crazy Space Parachute Jump Is Live Web Video’s Biggest Event Ever

Daredevil Felix Baumgartner is currently headed to the outer edge of the Earth’s atmosphere in a balloon-powered space capsule. When he gets to 120,000 feet, he’ll jump out and attempt to parachute back to the planet and set a new world’s record.

Meantime, I believe that Baumgartner, his sponsor Red Bull and YouTube have already set a record: By YouTube’s count, there are more than two million livestreams of the event going out around the world. (Update: The audience for this one kept climbing as Baumgartner did. Latest total: 8 million.) The previous record for a single Web video service: Around 500,000 concurrent streams, which Google served up during the Olympics this summer.

(Thanks to Eugene Wei for reminding me that Barack’s Obama inauguration in 2009 set a different Web video streaming record: Web video utility Akamai reported that it served a peak of seven million streams to different Web video outlets, though not all of them were live video.)

There are a couple reasons this thing is so big on the Web: For starters, you can’t see it live anywhere else. (Correction: My mistake — in the U.S., the Discovery Channel is carrying the same stream live. Not sure about other countries.) Another reason: It’s a crazily exciting stunt, which means it should appeal to just about everyone, all around the world.

Update: Now that the original stream has ended, here’s a 90-second highlight reel of the mission.

There’s also a backstory here about YouTube’s ability to serve up this kind of live event with ease, but we’ll get to that later. For now, enjoy, and hold your breath.

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