NetAid concert delivers 2.38M streams

Cisco claims concert was the most-watched live Webcast ever, dismisses brownout rumours.

Saturday's Webcast of the NetAid concerts was the most-watched video-streaming event ever to occur over the Internet, according to event organisers.

Cisco Systems, which organised the Webcast along with the United Nations Development Program, said that served 2,385,455 streams to Web visitors Saturday. Cisco believes breaking the 2 million mark makes NetAid the most successful live, streamed Net event ever. "Cisco is always looking for ways to showcase the power of the Internet," explained company spokesperson Mojan Khalili. "In this case, we harnessed that power for a social cause -- ending world poverty."

NetAid is an online initiative between technology companies, members of the entertainment industry and the United Nations to raise awareness about record levels of poverty and hunger worldwide. The UN estimates 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day.

On Saturday, overlapping concerts were held in the Giants Stadium in New Jersey, Wembley Stadium in London and the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Performers included Sting, Bono, Sheryl Crow and George Michael. Nearly 97,000 people attended the three sold out events. Millions more watched or listened to live broadcasts over television and radio.

"The hope for Saturday was to begin a ground swell of support for this issue and I think we accomplished that." Cisco said 99.33 percent of people attempting to access the live concert stream were successfully connected. Visitors logged in to the NetAid site from 160 different countries. Cisco also denied reports of brownouts (slowdowns) in areas of New York and California -- saying that, if there were problems, they were likely at the Internet service provider level. "We wanted to build a network that would handle record amounts of live video," said Cisco's Kent Jenkins. "We really expanded the terms of what this technology can do. From our standpoint it was a very worthwhile effort."

Rebroadcasts of the NetAid concerts will be aired on various television and radio stations in the coming months. The NetAid site will undergo what Cisco calls "an evolution" in the coming months as it switches its focus from hosting the live concerts to providing information and opportunities to fight worldwide poverty.

A future awareness campaign involving members of the entertainment industry is also part of Cisco's plans. Another concert or similar event is likely, although details have not yet been decided.