YouTube’s Live Event As Overhyped As The Company

I hate to add yet another post in the blogsphere about YouTube's live event from this past weekend, but I really have to ask, does anyone really care about it? It's not a big deal. Over the past ten years there have been a lot of live broadcasts on the web with music and entertainment acts. YouTube has no business model and can't figure out how to make money, even with all of their traffic, yet people are excited that YouTube did a live webcast as if this is some new, cutting-edge trend.

And why is there so much talk about how the webcast was delivered? I see all these posts talking about how YouTube worked with Akamai as if that is some sort of big news and people seem all surprised. Of course YouTube did not stream the event themselves and used a CDN. Who did they think was going to do this? Even TechCrunch says, "We’d heard rumors that Google had partnered with one of the big three live streaming services – Mogulus, Ustream or Justin.TV", "But instead of working with them, or building their own streaming media CDN, they chose to work with Akamai." Who does TechCrunch think Mogulus, Ustream and Justin.TV uses when they do large-scale live events? They aren't CDNs either. So even if one of them was "used", the event would have gone through Akamai, Limelight or another third party anyway. Why is anyone surprised by any of this? How is this a story?

But of course, that does not stop folks like TechCrunch trying to add drama by saying, "All this expensive CDN infrastructure really isn’t necessary to handle live video streams effectively. P2P software can handle it effectively and far cheaper since the users are serving most of the video to others." Really? Of all the P2P based services on the web, almost none of them support live streaming. Some say they do, but try getting a real demo of a live P2P stream. Octoshape works (used by, but most others aren't doing live at all. So how is P2P going to solve the problem? It won't, but it's easy to simply make a blanket statement that says CDN is crap, just solve the problem with P2P.

I think too many people were expecting YouTube to roll out their own webcasting service, which makes no sense. If YouTube were to do that, they would not do it via their own network and would have to use a content delivery network. But the bigger question is does YouTube really need a live service? Absolutely not. If they can't make money with on-demand video, they won't make it with live content either.

I also read posts from a few folks who said the live event probably broke records and that it was the largest event ever online. First, that's not true. It is not possible for anyone to know what live broadcast has had the most simultaneous users because no one shares the raw data. Anyone can say anything they want since no one is checking it. I've done enough webcasts to know what the real numbers were, only to then see the client put out a press release the next day with numbers three times as large.

I don't get all the fuss about YouTube. It has no business model, no clear ad strategy, is slow to adopt technology, has poor video quality and has absolutely no focus at all. I'm reading articles now about how YouTube is starting to offer some videos in HD. You mean the same HD quality that ABC and others started offering a year and a half ago? Welcome to the game YouTube, late as always.

I think it is a shame YouTube gets so much attention in the press. I'm not surprised it happens, but in a time when we should be looking for those companies who truly have innovative products, instead, too much of our time is reading stories about companies like YouTube. I apologize for adding another yet post about them to your RSS reader.