CBS Best Inauguration Video Quality, Hulu, C-SPAN The Worst, Others Not Loading

I've now watched over a dozen live feeds of the inauguration from most of the major news portals and hands down, CBS has the best quality and most reliable stream. Others like MSNBC, C-SPAN and Hulu are some of the worst and at least a couple sites has videos that would not even load. He's a quick run down on how the videos compare.

ABC News
The ABC News site had no problem delivering me an ad, but the live stream simply won't load and by the looks of it, the player doesn't even have a full-screen option. 

Associated Press
Looks like they are sharing the MSNBC stream, which makes sense since the stream does not even work. Looks like it is getting hung up on

Video takes a bit too long to load and quality is nothing special. Not bad, but lots of pixelation at full-screen. Should be a lot better for the BBC.

CBS TV Stations
Has the best looking video quality by far with at least seven HD quality streams to choose from. Clean, crisp and great frame rate. Hands down the winner for me.

Upon trying to get the live stream, I was put into a waiting room telling me I would be able to get the stream as soon as there was room. After about a minute of waiting, I got the stream which has decent video quality, but not great. And having to sit in a waiting room is just a bad idea. What is CNN thinking?

Aside from crashing my browser twice, when I did get the video it was simply horrible. They are using the RealPlayer to embed the video in their page with no full-screen option and a very small video window, getting about two frames a second.

FOX News
While the video from FOX News loaded quickly, the video was quite dull with subdued colors and quite a lot of pixelation.

Is sharing the same stream as FOX. Tons of stuttering and barely watchable.

Poor video quality. Very low bitrate, tons of pixelation and the stream took over 30 seconds to load. Same for the NBC News website since they are sharing the same stream.

Probably the faster loading video of any site, with decent video quality as long as you don't want to enter full-screen mode.

Presidential Inaugural Committee
The video feed from the official website looked pretty good. Still not as good as CBS for me, but was still very good.

The SKY news site looked pretty good. Good frame rate, nice and smooth. Still gets beat by CBS, but not bad at all.

USA Today
Here's something I was not prepared for, the stream opened up in my
RealPlayer! Quality is horrible and it looks like a stream that was
setup for someone on dial-up.

Video would not load for me at all. The video player says "on air" but nothing shows up. Even tried the pop-up player with no luck.

Overall, not very impressive. Delivering live video on the Internet is not new and any major news site that relies on days like this to generate traffic has no excuse for not getting it right.

  • James Deane

    It’s amazing to me how much Twitter traffic there was about streaming not being ready for the big time, and how many companies are still blocking streaming media.
    I Being in the biz for so long, back in the days when 176×144 was the standard streaming size, I can’t belive that so many still have issues, and are still afraid to upgrade their internal networks and embrace streaming as a communication tool.
    I hope that there’s enough outcry to get the IT departments in corporate America to shape up and start embracing Windows/Flash reflectors and even multicasting as solutions.

  • Gerben Hanzelaar

    My personal results:
    Current switched from Mogulus to StreamZilla after a few minutes and it kept working. The source was a Italian broadcaster. Flash stream. Encoding quality was average.
    Dutch broadcaster NPO had a decent silverlight stream, quality was average as well.

  • Um Dan…. how about the official Feed at:
    Also for me, as I mentioned on the list, the Hulu feed LOOKED the best.
    The CBS feed was having issues for me here on TimeWarnerCable.

  • How did I forget to put that on the list? Thanks, will add.

  • DC

    I think Move Network hands down had the best streaming today. The quality is amazing.

  • Mike Taylor

    I agree, I was very disappointed with MSNBC live feed.
    I gave up and went to CNN where I also had to wait.
    I thought CNN would of stepped up to the plate and delivered a better quality broadcast.

  • The CBS local station videos are awesome. They also host past presidential inaugurations along with their 7 live HD feeds.

  • The same Silverlight 2 and Move Networks HD quality videos are also available for the DNCC at Both sites were built by Vertigo (see for more info).

  • I watched the Inaug on my N95 over shared WiFi at the office. 1st I went to AP via Ustream via Skyfire which continually stuttered and stopped. 2nd I flipped to our proprietary codec from Swanbay. We were picking up SKY in the UK reencoding it and sending it to our application on my handset here in NYC. It looked great until….the speech. Everything slowed down not just video. But before the rush, ours was a pretty good full screen video on my N95. Killed my battery though.

  • The CBS local station feeds look amazing. The following stations are carrying the events all day (utilizing Move Networks)

  • CBS allowed Move to put President Obama’s speech directly on their homepage.

  • GreenField

    Wow – CNN, put us in a waiting room? after being “greeted” with the statment – Hey you made it! So did everyone else. Really?
    That is worse than handing me the Real player.
    Geez, get with the program.

  • Nobody could withstand the bandwidth so the worked out very well except that they had a jittery camera view.

  • eff hulu

    I had no blocky behavior on Hulu, but hated them for showing the Fox News Channel feed. They seem to get so much right, why bomb their biggest day?

  • I am suprised you found the BBC pixellated. My video here is the UK was very good. Maybe they aren’t trying very hard to cover the USA.
    I was part of the team that did the major work inside the BBC in 1999/2000 to allow digital video on their internal network. They are definitely making good use of that now.
    I no longer work for the BBC but watch it a lot.

  • FYI – you can still watch the inauguration activities on SkyNews and scroll back on the player to view the days events.

  • Kevin

    With out a doubt, CBS and sky were the best. It looks like Movenetworks is the underlying technology. These guys have set the benchmark on quality.

  • Jayson

    CBS had the best coverage with the 7 Live HD streams. It looks like they have moved to an on-demand player now and it’s still in HD(at least the Obama speach). This must be costing them some major $$. It’s also cool to see it leveraged across all their local O&O’s. Very cool concept and incredible execution.

  • Ahem. Those drop-dead gorgeous CBS live streams were encoded in On2 VP7. Move’s network and player (in a Silverlight wrapper), On2’s video codec.

  • greendreamer

    You post a great list! I got a waiting room on CNN- and whats with the download- are they nuts? I went to CBS and was OK.

  • Pez Dispensor

    “Those drop-dead gorgeous CBS live streams were encoded in On2 VP7. Move’s network and player (in a Silverlight wrapper), On2’s video codec.’
    So, how is your On2 investmnet going? Not too good.

  • Vince Lombardi

    Does anyone know the CDNs that were used behind the scenes for the best/worst performers?

  • It’s good to see all the On2 Investors in the house. All two of you should go start a board called “On2: The Great CODEC Hope” and just beat it. Seriously could your postings be any more transparent? Why don’t you just list your broker’s address or a good way to contact the company’s Investor’s Coordinator?

  • I agree, a list of the CDNs that worked behind the curtains yesterday would be interesting. CNN was powered by Octoshape P2P, plus Akamai (?). Worked pretty well for me, but I guess I joined before they opened the waiting room …

  • Dave

    I watched the inaug live on AP at work on the company network and had absolutely no problems. Video quality was good, audio was fine, anchoring was generally free of network bloviation.

  • Nice list of who offered the feeds but a little pointless. Being that this is an industry blog I would’ve thought a more in-depth discussion of platforms, networks, etc would have been ideal for comparison sake so we could all benefit. A lot of us were watching a lot of feeds and we all had more or less similar experiences but without context it doesn’t mean much. Also realizing that if you were fortunate to get on some of the feeds (like CNN) early on, the delivery was almost flawless, while jumping on late (after it was all over Facebook and Twitter where else to go – for example) probably exceeded the capacity for that stream. And then there was the question of how good the video quality was in the first place – CNN and CBS had incredible quality because they had the cams in place, while the PIC carried the congressional feed and did not have a huge production team behind it.

  • I can’t go into who used what CDN. Many of the CDNs told me who their customers are but they can’t give out that info in a public forum unless the customer agrees to it.
    Akamai listed a bunch of the sites in the press release and Limelight did the delivery for MSNBC and CBS told me they used Limelight. CNN used Highwinds for the P2P/Octoshape delivery and Level 3 has some customers as well, although I can disclose who.

  • Jerry

    To really get the full picture shouldn’t we look at this with the context of how many simultaneous streams were delivered from each portal. It is easy to deliver high quality if you don’t have to scale.

  • Mike

    It looks like the CBS sites are continuing to use their player for on-demand as well. If you missed it and want to see how amazing it looks, just pipe it into your 46″ Plasma/LCD screen and run full-screen mode. We did this at the office and brought everyone into the conference room to watch it.
    If you’re in NYC: