World Cup reveals TV Everywhere issue: latency

While the nearly completed World Cup soccer tournament has delivered TV Everywhere its highest usage to date, it has also laid bare an issue related to any kind of video delivered over the Internet: latency.

As GigaOM's Janko Roettgers reports, a number of those who have watched live streams of the World Cup have found them to be not so live, and have had key goal-scoring moments spoiled, either by fellow Twitter users or cheering, close-by cable watchers, who receive the TV signal as much as two full minutes beforehand.

TV Everywhere executives are very aware of the latency issue. "It's a process we're still trying to work through," noted Disney/ABC TV Group executive Andy Cheng, who oversees Watch ABC, while speaking on an industry panel in Los Angeles in June.

And latency isn't just an issue for TV Everywhere--satellite TV, for example, can lag five seconds behind cable. But delivering Internet video simply requires more steps--encoding, formatting, filtering through content delivery networks, last-mile broadband and playback devices--each of which requires time.

This has been only a small issue so far in the early stages of TV Everywhere adoption, but could assume a bigger profile as more live sports are watched via mobile platforms.

Of course, as Roettgers noted, the latency issue has not seemed to have impacted ESPN's numbers for the World Cup, with the network reporting 829,000 unique viewers watching 36.9 million minutes per game through the end of round 16.

For more:
- read this GigaOM story

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