Event TV on the Web – Oprah, Limelight, Move Networks and Skype

Mari Silbey —  March 20, 2008 — 2 Comments

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All TV (except sports) is moving to on-demand, right? You can’t successfully have hundreds of thousands of people accessing the same online video at the same time, right? You can’t hold an interactive video event online that’s open to the public, right?

Oprah says otherwise. That’s right, Oprah.

Very quietly Oprah’s been hosting an online, interactive class called A New Earth on Oprah.com for the last three weeks. What makes the initiative remarkable is that she’s using Skype video to do it. Not only can online visitors watch Oprah talk with guest/co-host Eckhart Tolle every Monday at 9:00 ET, they can also ask questions in a video split screen. (see above) Limelight is the content delivery network (CDN) partner for the series and Move Networks is handling the video player and encoding. The scale of the experiment is unprecedented.

Here are a few stats, including some otherwise-unpublished figures (that’s right, exclusive from ZNF…):

  • More than 180k viewers have tuned in for the full 90 minutes of the Oprah series for three weeks running
  • 500k people logged in the first week… and the system crashed. But this was a coding error only, remedied since, not a bandwidth or infrastructure problem. The 500k number breaks the previous Live Earth record of roughly 240k simultaneous streams.
  • The Oprah folks are aiming for a million simultaneous streams. Just wait till they really turn on the Oprah marketing machine.

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2 responses to Event TV on the Web – Oprah, Limelight, Move Networks and Skype

  1. None of the stats you posted on March 20th were previously “unpublished figures”. All of those figures have been published in many places on the web before, in some cases two weeks before your post.

    Also, Oprah has not been hosting the classes “very privately”. She mentions it all the time on her TV show, and it’s been on the home page of her website for weeks, not to mention that nearly every major media outlet has covered the webcast series over the past month.

  2. Dan- Thanks for reading. RE: the stats- I don’t believe the fact that more than 180K viewers had tuned in for the full 90 minutes three weeks running had been published. I wasn’t suggesting that all of the figures were new.

    And while I wouldn’t classify the classes as private, I do think they’ve been managed in relative quiet compared to other Oprah initiatives. And certainly in the tech press, I’ve barely seen mention of the streaming events. Given the scale, I would have thought they’d have gotten more attention after three weeks.

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