When, on Oct. 14, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumped from a capsule hanging from the edge of space, he broke more than just the speed of sound. He also broke the record for the number of people watching a live stream on YouTube.
Baumgartner finally jumped from a height of 128,100 feet (2.4 km) after five years of preparing for the stunt. He became the first man to break the sound barrier, reaching a speed of 1342.8 km/h, as well as records for the highest manned balloon flight, the highest parachute jump, and the greatest freefall distance.
As reported by the Official YouTube Blog, Baumgartner also broke the record for the number of live streams on the Google-owned site, with more than 8 million people watching it happen concurrently. This is compared to the few hundred who usually watch live streams on YouTube.
Watching Baumgartner’s record-breaking jump actually reminded me that YouTube Live existed, as I must admit I’d forgotten all about it. Apart from the stand-out events that get featured on the YouTube homepage, Google doesn’t really promote YouTube Live. Instead it’s focusing its attention on the new channels full of original programming.
This seems a shame as there is a lot of content sitting waiting for an audience. At the time of writing there are live streams dedicated to politics, gaming, sports, health, music, and business, amongst others. They may not all be gold like Felix Baumgartner’s dive-bomb to Earth but YouTube Live is still a largely untapped resource.
With television programming being available on demand these days live broadcasts perhaps don’t hold the same level of interest they once did. But for certain events, such as Baumgartner’s startling show of bravery, there is still a place for it. And YouTube would seem to be perfectly placed to take advantage.