Countless people took to the Internet today to live stream the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. I wrote yesterday about some skepticism over whether or not the social networks and streaming video sites would hold up during one of their most highly trafficked days.
I, personally, used a combination of Ustream and Twitter -- neither of which experienced one single hiccup during my use. The Ustream chat was active and my Twitter network was, as always, engaging and thoughtful. Many wrongfully feared that Twitter would buckle under such tremendous pressure but it held strong. Ironically, it's partner site Current, which was to live stream the election, was having the issues and reportedly providing poor quality video.
Enough about me and what I think. I took the question to the community at large and asked them to help me grade the streaming sites and social networks they used. I received immediate feedback from 500+ people either via FriendFeed, Twitter or crowdsourcing via HARO. While this is a small percentage of the overall Internet user base today, it's still quite telling. Happily, more passes than fails:
- CNN.com -- The most live streaming praise came for CNN.com, which also partnered with Facebook to take its stream to a broader audience and spark more interaction. According to Mashable, CNN hit a record 13 million streams.
- Facebook - The social network did so well that it deserves its own call-out. The majority of respondents were using the CNN / Facebook mash-up to watch the inaugural events. According to Facebook, as of 10:15 a.m. PT 600,000 status updates were posted through the CNN.com Live Facebook feed and there were an average of 4,000 status updates every minute during the broadcast -- there were 8,500 status updates the minute Obama began his speech.
- FriendFeed -- The FriendFeed experience this morning was smooth and while the majority of respondents did not mention the lifestream, those on FriendFeed said they shared the experience in the official inauguration room, which saw great traffic and no downtime.
- Twitter -- Of the 500 people who responded to my inquiry, more than 400 said they were using Twitter (many of which not even in my Twitter network). Several were live tweeting from mobile phones at coffee shops or from their desks at the office. "I cannot begin to rave enough about how much more connected I have felt to others around the country throughout the election and inauguration because of Twitter," said Jennifer Kushell, president of YS Interactive Corp.
- Ustream -- Both online and via the sites iPhone application, people were successfully streaming Ustream video and participating in its interactive chat. Using Ustream myself, a handful of people had issues with buffering, but admitted it was due to their own wireless connections.
- Hulu -- Almost everyone who reported that they tried Hulu said it either broke or constantly hiccuped or froze. "Hulu choked under pressure," said Jason Shultz. More than 150 people claimed the same experience as Shultz, including The Inquistr's Duncan Riley, who said Hulu was "choppy and out of sync."
- MSNBC -- Most of the people who tried MSNBC.com reported that there was a severe time lag and the service was unreliable, therefore requiring that they switch to CNN. According to user Kristin Miller of SSPR, "Unfortunately MSNBC’s video stream is a major failure. I can only hear every third word or so and then it freezes up."
Of course, many experiences depend on your own Internet connectivity and the local servers from which you're trying to stream the content. Some had an overall bad experience with all sites and others had no issues with some of the "fails." Also, there are several other sites that live streamed (as seen in Andrew Nusca's post), however, these are the ones my network was using.
How was YOUR experience? Let me know here or on Twitter.