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Record-breaking skydive takes online video streaming into another dimension

Austrian Felix Baumgartner successfully completed the highest skydive ever attempted yesterday (October 14th), breaking three world records along the way, as well as shattering YouTube’s previous record for live streaming, with 8mn people tuning in to sponsor Red Bull’s YouTube channel.

After seeing two previous attempts fail to get off the ground due to unfavourable conditions, the former military parachutist ascended in a specially-built capsule attached to a helium-filled balloon, and broke one world record before he jumped out at over 128,000 feet – that of highest-ever manned balloon flight.

The event attracted a global audience watching on YouTube, and was also broadcast on television channels around the world, including Austria’s ServusTV and Discovery Channel in the US. The live audience of 8mn shattered YouTube’s previous record of 500,000 live concurrent streams.

Two other records were broken when he made the jump – highest free fall jump and fastest free fall jump (833mph at its peak) – along with the sound barrier. The record for longest free fall jump remains with retired US Air Force colonel Joe Kittinger, who jumped from 103,800 feet in 1960.

Editor’s view: This event epitomises the power and reach of live online video – once the preserve of TV networks, coverage can now be delivered to a global audience without ever switching on a television.

By combining Content Delivery Network (CDN) technology with YouTube’s server farms, sponsors Red Bull Media managed to deliver the event to a rapt audience around the world, and can be seen as a vindication of the stability now offered by online video platforms.

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