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Streaming Wars: Ustream thinks YouTube’s numbers not so Stratos-pheric

“And since we’re in debate season, I’m willing to debate YouTube at Streaming Media West about their arithmetic” – Brad Hunstable, CEO
Over the past few weeks, several large live broadcasts on the Internet highlight the tremendous popularity and growth of live events.  Whether it was the Mars Rover landing, the first Presidential debate or a live PSY concert from Seoul, live broadcasting is on a roll at Ustream.  Our chief competitor in live video, YouTube, has run into a few bumps in the road lately.  In the face of huge demand, YouTube goes down when pounded with requests for live streams while still claiming “record breaking” audiences. This forced them to use a third party CDN, Akamai.

With all three of their most recent large broadcasts, including the Red Bull Stratos Jumper, YouTube’s claims keep getting bigger and bigger, and frankly harder to believe.  In the case of the RedBull Jumper, YouTube claims they had 8 million concurrent views, the largest live broadcast “ever.”  Dan Rayburn of Streaming Media called out this claim in his blog yesterday. He pointed out that YouTube’s assertion is probably off by a factor of 8 according to Akamai’s public reports.

Meanwhile, Ustream is able to easily scale to millions of simultaneous viewers.

During the most recent Presidential debate on October 3rd, Youtube was unable to support the load.  Ustream easily supported over 3.5 million views during the debate.   The next day, Ustream streamed 1.5 million viewers for a live concert by PSY, the viral music phenomenon of “Gangnam Style” fame.  Ustream received double the viewership of Youtube and ultimately Youtube crashed around the world.

We will follow-up with more posts about Ustream’s world class infrastructure and the differences from YouTube.