Designed to trigger a global movement to combat the world’s climate crisis, Live Earth, a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series, took place on July 7, 2007. With a goal of reaching 2 billion people around the world, the concert was broadcast via all media platforms – TV, radio, Internet and wireless. As a world leader in delivering compelling content experiences, MSN knew it wanted to be part of what promised to be a historic global event. And the feeling was mutual. Impressed by the fact that MSN reaches more than 465 million unique users worldwide every month, the Live Earth organization was excited to have MSN broad- cast the live event via the Internet.
While MSN had historical data from previous large-scale live streaming video events – such as LiveAID, the NCAA Final Four and the FIFA World Cup – there was nothing to compare to the scale of this worldwide concert and it wasn’t certain what to expect. What the company did know is that, for such a high-profile event of this size, it needed to provide a flawless web experience for online viewers. As a web-savvy company with vast experience delivering rich-media experiences online, MSN knew that it needed help overcoming Internet performance and reliability issues beyond its control.
MSN needed to meet two key requirements to support its objectives:
Having used Akamai to support a number of streaming video events in the past, it was natural for MSN to turn to Akamai for the Live Earth event. MSN knew that Akamai has extensive expertise delivering superior web experiences and that it could be up and running on the Akamai global content delivery network in a short timeframe. “With so many logistics to address for an event of this scale, we wanted a partner we could trust to not only get us implemented quickly and easily, but also to deliver the event without fail. Akamai was the only logical choice for us,” explains Lisa Gurry, Senior Director at MSN who managed the LiveEarth project.
On the day of the event, MSN and Akamai delivered more than 15 million live video streams in multiple formats to 8 million people in all corners of the world, with peak simultaneous viewership of 237,000 people. “This was the greatest day in the history of MSN, both due to record-breaking traffic and the superior customer experience we delivered,” continues Gurry.
It was equally important to MSN that site visitors could access on-demand video coverage shortly after it was recorded at the live event. “Akamai Professional Services helped ensure that on-demand video files were available within hours of the live coverage,” says Gurry. In fact, more than 15 million on-demand videos were viewed during the live event. Like the live streams, on-demand content was also available in multiple formats and has been accessed over 52 million times since the event.
The MSN-Live Earth site was launched in May 2007 to drive interest and awareness of the Live Earth concert. “The Live Earth site was a huge effort from a design and content standpoint. Our goal was to combine a great entertainment experience with educational content about green issues in order to establish a long-term relationship with site visitors.” MSN considers a range of factors to assess the success of events such as the Live Earth concert, including gathering site visitor feedback and monitoring click-through rates.
“We’ve been thrilled with the amount of positive feedback from site visitors, both in terms of what they’ve shared with us about their experience and the fact that so many people have gravitated toward not only the entertainment but also the green content,” says Gurry.
Since the MSN-Live Earth site was launched, MSN has seen over 250 million page views to its global sites, and has delivered 67 million video streams, of which over 52 million are video on demand. Millions of people are still expected to visit MSN’s Live Earth site in the weeks after the concert, accessing on-demand performances, artist interviews, exclusive backstage footage, and in-depth information, tools, and resources about the climate crisis.
“Our long-standing relationship with Akamai not only gives us confidence that we’ll deliver a great customer experience, but is critical to successfully delivering an event of this scale,” concludes Gurry. Videos that reach millions of designers and developers worldwide while directly impacting the bottom line. “Adobe’s vision with Adobe TV was to use online video to engage with our customer base in a more powerful way. The success of this endeavor is evidenced by our nearly 10% conversion rate for trial downloads from the Adobe TV site. That means we are effectively inspiring our audience and increasing the likelihood of converting browsers to buyers,” concludes Donlon.