World Cup causes streaming delays

Inevitably when a few million people attempt to hook up to a single programme there will be hiccups. The recent semi-finals and final of the FIFA World Cup have won massive ratings for ESPN, Hispanic network Univision and ABC.

The downside snag is that the transmissions have also clogged up the USA’s fibre and cable networks, and GigaOm is reporting that that the ‘live’ transmissions were far from live. As well as occasional pixelated feeds, GigaOm says that some ‘viewers’ were watching signals that were up to 20 seconds ‘late’ such was the demand on the supplying networks.

Fans were complaining that their Twitter info was telling them of goals scored “an age” before the TV signals showed the ball hitting the net.

And the delays are not limited just to cable and IPTV. Most of these operators are drawing down a satellite signal that might have made two or even three pathway hops before it hits the distribution head-end. That complex delivery pattern can add five seconds to the ‘live’ signal.

ESPN’s WatchESPN live streaming service uses Apple-developed HLS format, which is recognised as typically adding five seconds to a feed.

Of course, any feed delay is unimportant provided a viewer is not accessing another data or information messaging service at the same time, such as Twitter.

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