Sports & streaming

June 23rd, 2008 by · 1 Comment

According to Contentinople, MLB’s Bowman expects events like the Tiger Woods/Rocco Mediate playoff last week to go from 600K concurrent streams to 10M in just 2 years.  Wow, now that would be some major growth, 300% per year will get you there.  Sports streaming is probably going to be one of the first places we see impressive bandwidth growth come from, just because it is such an easy thing to set up in comparison to other systems.

I can’t help but wonder if the CDNs run by network providers don’t have the advantage here.  AT&T and Level 3 for instance are already doing the data collection leg – from the venue to the broadcast studio.  That existing customer relationship would seem to favor the network operators in winning those CDN contracts.  Another factor is the difference in the character of the long tail and its effect on caching.  The number of people who might want to watch an old great movie is generally much larger than those wanting to watch an old great baseball game.  Knowing how it ends makes a bigger difference in sports.  So in sports once a stream is a few days old, its views drop off a cliff.  You’re either ‘live’, ‘very recent’, or ‘who cares’ in sports – potentially huge bursts in bandwidth followed by nothing.  You have to have lots of excess bandwidth for that sort of thing, especially if they start doing it in HD someday.

I just wish this sort of thing wasn’t so USA specific.  When I’m in Beijing, as I am much of the year, I can’t see any of this – no Woods/Mediate, no Superbowl, nada.  Few of those so called global CDNs actually do any streaming here, even out of Hong Kong where many claim to have a node.  Occasionally I manage to watch a youtube clip, but only after several minutes of buffering.  I’m sure the olympics will be streamed here of course, but maybe in a couple years I’ll be able to get to watch things like that Woods/Mediate playoff.

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Categories: Content Distribution · Internet Backbones

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