They were the backup provider for the Olympics themselves to Limelight, but for the encore they are the primary provider. In a press release by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) today, it emerged that Level 3 will be streaming the Paralympic games, also being held in Beijing and starting on Saturday. But this time it's for free.
According to the PR:
The IPC together with its partners Narrowstep Ltd. and brandstage.tv GmbH have agreed with Level 3 Communications on a solution for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games to provide the live stream on ParalympicSport.TV, free of charge. Said Sir Philip Craven, IPC President: "The IPC is very happy about this great commitment for the worldwide distribution of the Games. It is superb news for those who do not have the opportunity to watch Paralympics on TV."
It does make sense. Level 3's CDN network is built out, and they are trying to ramp customers. But in the meantime, some pro-bono work helps keep their offering in the spotlight. I don't know what the DNC contract looked like, but I'm sure Level 3 mainly saw it as a vehicle for driving future sales more so than as a profit generator of its own and hence they pulled out all the stops. The same goes for the paralympics. It costs Level 3 little to stream these games since the capacity would be idle otherwise and as a Tier-1 network they don't pay anyone IP transit even if the traffic is large - which it isn't likely to be, at least relative to the Olympics or the DNC Obamafest.
For the Paralympics, it means greater exposure, greater participation. For Level 3 it is a further demonstration that they are a power in the CDN business and aren't going to fade away. That does make me wonder where Level 3's PR is on this subject. Perhaps it will be out in the morning, it seems like a no-brainer.