London 2012: Who Can You Blame for the Poor-Quality of the Online Live Streams?

By Sam Saltess

Its probably happened to you once during these Oympics: You don’t want to have the surprise ruined by Twitter and Facebook posts for your favorite Olympic event, so you log on to and attempt to live stream the event.

Then you watch a car commercial and a P&G commercial, and you THINK you are in the clear when your event stream loads, until thirty seconds later, two more commercials interrupt your viewing.

Its annoying and disruptive, so who is to blame for the lagging quality of the live streams? Youtube, Google (who delivers the stream), or NBC themselves?

A Youtube spokesperson told Business Insider, “We’re really pleased with the live-streaming performance around the Olympics so far … The quality and consistency of the live-streaming itself is even out-performing the average on-demand video playbacks.”

The Business Insider says this is because Youtube just sends out the video to your computer, meaning they are pleased with the “quality and consistency” of the video as it gets to your computer.

This is where you start to experience lag and commercial interruption, which has lead folks to believe that it is NBC who can be to blame such interruptive live streaming. Of course, there are many factors that go into playing a live stream, including the viewer’s own internet connection and computer quality. However, complaints seem nearly universal in that they most experience the video stopping and injecting commercials right in the middle of the action.

You must also be aware that NBC had said that it did 45.2 million live streams in the first week of the Olympics, which is a ton of traffic trying to receive video all at once. But as the Business Insider pointed out, NBC is a big, major company, who probably could have (and should have) anticipated that in a day and age of social media, there would be millions of people looking to live stream events. They had plenty of time to try and work out the kinks and make sure the live streams were of a decent quality.

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