October 30, 2012

The Weather Channel Live on YouTube Spikes Subscriptions

The Weather Channel always gains viewership when major weather events occur. The television coverage of Hurricane Sandy was no different. But after streaming live on YouTube, not only did their Internet viewership increase but The Weather Channel’s YouTube channel subscription rate spiked significantly.

YouTube featured The Weather Channel’s broadcast coverage, less commercials, on YouTube’s Live event page and promoted the event with a notification after a user visited the YouTube site.

YouTube, owned by Google, continues to gain popularity as a site for viewing live events. Previously this month other YouTube channels gained subscribers by streaming live – most notably the 2012 Presidential Debates which were streamed live by major US newspapers including the New York Times , the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal

Red Bull’s Status event streamed live on YouTube broke a YouTube record of over 8 million concurrent live connections.

According to the stats from SocialBlade and VidStatsX, increased subscription rates may be a direct result of streaming live events. And The Weather Channel's YouTube channel gained thousands of subscriptions during their webcast.

The stats from the YouTube watch page revealed over 7.5 million views during the multi-day live stream.


  1. YouTube can get overwhelmed if a live event becomes extremely popular. Many viewers had problems with freezing pictures or constant buffering during the supersonic parachute jump.

    1. From what I understand, YouTube produces live events in two ways: YouTube produced events and User produced events (YouTube Partners who have the live featured enabled on their channel). For larger events that YouTube produces and promotes, third party CDNs are used to alleviate Google CDN network congestion. For user generated events - the Google CDN is utilized. The Google CDN is still evolving and this is one reason why YouTube is limiting the live feature to certain YouTube Partners.
      Most likely, YouTube provided the feature to TWC to encode themselves. This was probably a pretty quick decision.
      It is very hard to determine how many viewers will watch a live stream. Any event that becomes large enough will tax any CDN. Experienced live streaming producers who understand their marketing will use multiple CDNs. YouTube offers Akamai, one of the largest CDNs, as a premium feature to YouTube Partners. I'm not aware if TWC used Akamai or not.
      Infrastructure will continue to evolve and congestion will continue to improve.
      Thanks John for the comment.