Last week the announcement was made that CNN Live was laying off its four CNN.com Live anchors as well as “several production staffers,” and was shifting it’s focus to on streaming major live events, producing video packages especially for CNN.com.
Mark ‘Rizzin’ Hopkins asked “Is live video streaming dead?” and in his attempt to figure out where CNN is going wrong noted the fact that Justin.tv and Ustream.tv each have between 1.2 and 1.6 million uniques a month.
Those numbers are pretty respectable but a quick mental count of who is actually live streaming revealed that I know about less regular live streamers than I have fingers on my left hand (which is of course a pretty standard left hand with 4 fingers and thumb, althoughsays my fingers are magic).
This got me thinking about those 1.6 million uniques and I quickly realized that the vast majority of viewers on Justin.tv and similar platforms are there to watch pirated TV and sports events.
Just this week I was on Justin.tv twice to watch Ireland get robbed by France in the World Cup Qualifiers. I can’t access RTEs (Irish national broadcaster) streaming service when I am away but can usually find the matches on Justin.tv or Ustream.
I took the above screenshot during the first Ireland Vs France game. As you can see, when I took the screenshot there were over 5,204 viewers to that one channel alone. At one point there was well over 6100 simultaneous viewers of the stream and that was just one stream.
There were multiple streams covering the Ireland match, all with large numbers of viewers, not to mention a plethora of other streams covering the other matches that were underway at the time or any of the other sports events and live TV coverage that was being shown.
Chances are that if a sporting event is being shown and you can’t access it, or if a pay per view event is happening and you don’t want to pay for it, you’ll find somebody streaming it on sites like these.
Finding these streams, which are quite obviously displaying illegal content as the people doing the streaming do not hold the rights to the content, is a relatively easy and trivial thing to do.
If I can find the game I want simply by clicking on the sports section and scrolling down, then you can be sure that an administrator could do the same thing and shut down streams.
Yet, they don’t do it!
Why not? The only reason I can think of is that the vast majority of their viewers come for the pirated content and if they were to eliminate that then their numbers (and advertising revenue) would fall away to nothing.