If you tuned into YouTube yesterday afternoon to watch Felix Baumgartner jump out of a balloon from frickin’ space to break 50-year old records for the highest jump from a platform, the longest distance freefall, and maximum vertical velocity, you weren’t alone. Over 8 million people were tuned in to watch the jump at the same time, breaking records for the most concurrent livestream views ever on YouTube.
To put this number in perspective, the previous record for concurrent views of a YouTube livestream stood at 500,000 during the summer Olympics. Felix’s jump even blew the Ustream livestream of the Curiosity Mars landing out of the stratosphere. Ustream’s livestream of the Mars landing had a total of 3.2 million viewers, but only 500,000 concurrently—that’s 16 times more concurrent views for yesterday’s jump!
It should be noted, of course, that the Mars landing happened very late on a Sunday night, while the space jump occurred on a weekend afternoon, which could account for the much smaller number of concurrent viewers. Additionally, YouTube is much more mainstream than Ustream and Felix had Red Bull and YouTube helping to promote the jump. But still, incredibly impressive stats!
In a great post about ‘What Eight Million Livestreams Really Means,’ Peter Kafka of AllThingsD writes, “it doesn’t take much imagination to envision YouTube doing this kind of stuff, at this scale, on a regular basis. Which would mean the Web finally has a chance to rival TV when it comes to serving up live events with huge audiences – one of TV’s last remaining advantages over the Internet.” He points out, though, that, “that won’t happen anytime soon, though. Death-defying jumps from outer space aside, there are only a few live events that millions of people want to watch at the same time. Basically, a handful of award shows like the Oscars, and big-time sports.”
There have certainly been livestreams that have racked up more views than yesterday’s jump—for instance, hundreds of millions tuned in to watch the Decorah Eagles, a pair of nesting bald eagles. However, this was a 24/6 livestream and viewers trickled in over days and weeks. Felix’s jump had over 8 million viewers glued to YouTube at exactly the same time! Were you one of them?
For those of you that missed the livestream, you can catch the highlights in the video below. Felix jumped from a platform 128,100 feet up and landed after a 119,846 foot freefall, achieving maximum vertical velocity of 833.9 mph.
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.