This week, the Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission hosted a webcast from Jamestown, Virginia. They worked with The History Channel to create a webcast aimed at school children to teach about the first permanent English settlement in America. The event was broadcast by satellite on television, but was also available over the Internet. According to news accounts, the audience was estimated at more than one million viewers.
I thought I would track down which technology provider handled the webcast. That was trickier than I thought. Whoever it was completely buried their own branding in favor of their client. I finally found a technical support page that mentioned a vdat.com domain. That led me to the company that Visual Data merged with two years ago (and the one whose name survived)... Onstream Media. Joe Elquez in Onstream's San Francisco office confirmed for me that they were indeed the technical provider.
Onstream handles a lot of these one-way large audience webcasts. They do Fortune 100 investor calls and lots of government events (from local authorities to federal). I remember blogging about their contract to webcast the State of the Union Address back in January. I also talked to them about their webinar business in August.
I was able to check out the archived recording of this event on the Jamestown Live site. I had some problems with popup blocking on the Windows Media launcher and their tech support group got me going with a fast response. The video quality of the event is very good, without color smears or digital artifacts. The sound quality is good on the individually miked speakers, but when they go to wide coverage of groups singing and dancing, the audio quality noticeably suffers. The streaming seems very smooth and I was able to move the slider back and forth to hit any part of the broadcast without having to wait for additional buffering.
Admittedly, I don't handle many events with a million viewers or more. But if you have a need for a battle-tested vendor on a very large webcast, you would be silly not to put Onstream on your contenders list.