Google Chairman Eric Schmidt: YouTube Can Handle NFL-Sized Live Streams

/ Nov 22, 2013


Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt believes that YouTube and online video can unequivocally handle massive live events at scale. Schmidt, who spoke at the 2013 Paley Center International Council in NYC, expressed that the web as a whole is ready for live streaming events like NFL, NBA, and MLB games, which often attract 20-30 million viewers at once.

In a video posted by Rich Greenfield at BTIG Research, Schmidt explains that although YouTube and the web are ready for live sporting events, no one has expressed a willingness to pay leagues the outstanding amount it would cost for streaming rights. Previous to Schmidt’s remarks, many sports industry executives have claimed that their hesitation towards shifting online came from a belief that platforms like YouTube simply cannot handle the technological strain.

However, Schmidt seems inclined to disagree. “We had this crazy person jump out of a balloon at 135,00 feet,” Schmidt said, referring to Felix Baumgartner’s famous “Red Bull Stratos” jump, which was presented live on YouTube among other places. “We live streamed it to 10 million people, and the internet handled it just fine.”

Although Schmidt doesn’t allude to YouTube or any other video platform acquiring rights to league content in any way, rumors that Google or Netflix were in talks with the NFL to acquire streaming rights have been floating around the web for some time.

Back in August, it was rumored that the NFL was speaking with Google about taking NFL Sunday Ticket from DirecTV when the operator’s contract expired in 2015. Although, many analysts believe that those talks were simply the NFL’s way of gaining leverage over DirecTV as contract renegotiations roll around.

Regardless, Schmidt seems optimistic about the future of massive live streaming events online. “Not only can we do it, but it’s going to become much more prevalent,” he said.

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