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Inauguration online

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 18:20 UK time, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

My colleague Rory Cellan-Jones has made some interesting observations here about whether the Obama inauguration was best followed (for those of us not actually in Washington DC yesterday) on new media or old, streaming online video or good old TV.

A graphic of the BBC News websiteFrom the traffic figures on the BBC News website yesterday I'd say the most noticeable thing to me was the amount of video consumed by visitors to the site - in particular the number of people simultaneously watching the live stream, which was a new record.

The number of those watching the live stream concurrently peaked at about 230,000 (just after 1700 GMT) and the top 15 clips for the day were all coverage of different aspects of the Obama inauguration story, totalling over two million page views.

More than seven million users came to the site overall, which is high but below the numbers we recorded for the US election itself. Of those, roughly 1.5m unique users accessed video (or audio).

Our technical team reckons that, putting all traffic together (streaming, pages, the lot), the video exceeded 100 gigabits a second for the first time.

At one point - around 1730 GMT - the provider we use to carry our video streaming hit some problems which meant that for a while users who tried to start watching couldn't access it, although people who were already watching will have been unaffected.

The problems seem to have been fairly widespread, with other sites also affected - a result of the historic nature of the event and people's desire to watch it live and online.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


  • Comment number 1.

    It's because there was a great patriotic performance, and Obama is a harismatic man!
    About me page -

  • Comment number 2.

    My news intake now mainly comes from the Web, it's on demand and non linear; it's now very rare for me to watch the TV news, certainly not on a regular basis (nor do I watch much TV in general).
    The live streaming with text commentary is a good idea, I used that a fair bit during the Olympics.
    To answer Rory's question as to how it was for me, old or new media? The inauguration (well, from his taking the oath to the end of his speech, plus various clips) was 100% new media. I didn't turn to the TV or the radio once.
    I'm not convinced in my case that it's a question of what's best, Web, TV or radio? In my case it's about what's most convenient, given what I have to fit into a working day. If I was retired I probably would watch more TV news, if driving was a major part of my job then I'd certainly listen to more radio.

  • Comment number 3.

    I watched the Inauguration on Tuesday on the Television...Because, I knew it would be nearly impossible to watch it online....

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 4.

    I was in Chicago when Obama was made president elect, and it was such an emotional, beautiful thing, with the exception of a heavy, glowering police presence. They also got a little out of hand later in the evening, which is typical of the Chicago Police department.

    I didn't watch the inaugeration because at this point I have no stomach for pageantry and ceremony. We are in deep trouble, and even if in the best case scenario this gentleman manages to do something that proves helpful for us, there are still so many forces beyond his power that need to come into line too. All we can do is watch and wait and cry foul when we have to.

  • Comment number 5.

    It would have been nice to be able NOT to watch it on the news channels. For half an hour from 7:00 I couldn't find any other news on Sky News, BBC News or the Channel 4 News.

    I have no doubt that the inauguration was an important and historic thing to cover, but surely other things happened on the same day, didn't they?

    Thank god for the internet; I would have only received one news story that night otherwise.

  • Comment number 6.

    Barack Obama did not make a mistake at the Inauguration on the 20th of January 2008 , it was Chief Justice John Roberts that got the Oath wrong.

    The Oath reads:

    "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    Chief Justice John Roberts got it wrong by saying..." I will execute the Office of President of the United States faithfully"

    The word "faithfully" was said in the wrong place firstly by Chief Justice John Roberts and Barack Obama is supposed to repeat after the Chief Justice.

  • Comment number 7.

    I had trouble with the web streaming, the sound was OK but the pictures kept stuttering and freezing.

  • Comment number 8.

    Personally I got sick of the wall to wall worship of the new messiah.

    I went on a photography website. Several people noted that there was an unusually high number of people logged on. Then someone else noted we were all there because we were sick of the Obama worship.

    Personally I would like to see a bit more about the (almost half) of Americans who don't worship Obama.

    (Just out of interest how many articles on Obama are there on this site today? - What does Obama mean to children? What will Obama mean to the environment? Obama changes his socks....)

  • Comment number 9.

    Watching the Obama inauguration I was astonished at the sheer rudeness of the presenters talking over the playing of Itzak Perlman and YoYo Mah. Do the BBC producers think that the audience would be better kept in place by being told some trite story about a long-forgotten 19 ct US president? Or is arrogance in their assuming that BBC presenters are by definition more interesting? Or is it that they simply do not know that when listening to great musicians (or any musician) means you stay silentand listen . Respect and manners boys and girls!!

  • Comment number 10.

    'it was Chief Justice John Roberts that got the Oath wrong.' #6

    President Obama took the oath of office a second time on Wednesday 21st Jan. 2009, in front of the press, at the White House - because a word was said out of sequence by Justice Roberts when Obama was sworn in on Tuesday. This time both Chief Justice Roberts and President Obama were word perfect.

    I imagine Chief Justice Roberts felt as if he was back at school again.

  • Comment number 11.

    Was very disappointing that your webstream failed. I was one of the people who was watching it, but then had the connection drop and not be able to reconnect.

    I was specifically watching the BBC because CNN required some dodgy extra plug in to work and Sky News weren't streaming their actual TV coverage, but some kind of "online newsfeed".

    BBC did a good job of what was an important global event - but what are you going to do to ensure that the next time something big happens you don't lose connections?

  • Comment number 12.

    Do your figures just include views of the live stream on the BBC News website? It may be more if you add in the views of the live stream of BBC One via iPlayer.

  • Comment number 13.

    Here's a question for you regarding the first 100 days article.

    Why aren't you running it as a blog? It's much easier to keep track of it that way and offers an RSS. As a BBC News article it gets a bit unmanageable and isn't always obvious when it's updated!

  • Comment number 14.

    Why was/is there a delay between the TV footage and the online streamed footage?

  • Comment number 15.

    I would have followed online, but it wasn't subtitled. About time the BBC sorted out its accessibility of live transmissions!

  • Comment number 16.



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