Oprah Webcast Draws 500,000 Simultaneous Viewers

Last night, Oprah did a special 90 minute webcast live on the Oprah.com website and just released details on the traffic numbers. They had more than 500,000 simultaneous users viewing the stream and peaked at 242Gbps of traffic. The stream was encoded into the Move Networks platform and viewers could have gotten a stream at 150Kbps or as high as 750Kbps all depending on their connection.

The announcement on the Oprah site today which is on behalf of Harpo, Move Networks and Limelight Networks also says that, "Unfortunately, some of our users experienced delays in viewing the webcast." That comes as no surprise there considering the number of people trying to view the webcast, let alone at a high bitrate. But I give the Oprah site credit for setting expectations before the webcast started.

When you went to the site last night, the webcast page said something to the effect that the webcast would have a huge demand and that potentially some people just would not be able to log on to see it. They made that very clear and also said where and when the archives would be made available.

Half a million simultaneous streams at a high bitrate easily puts this at the top of the list when it comes to large webcast numbers. Is it larger than the MSN webcast last year of LiveEarth? No one knows as MSN only said their event had the "Most Simultaneous Viewers of Any Online Concert Ever" but didn’t say what that number was.

In all, it really does not matter which was the biggest. The big take away from this webcast is that it shows proof that the Internet is not built to handle TV like distribution and those who think that live TV shows will be broadcast on the Internet with millions and millions of people watching, it’s just not going to happen.

Oprah will be doing more of these webcasts over the coming weeks and it will be interesting to compare all the numbers.