Team USA Fans Cut Cable Cord for World Cup

Last week I was one of a reported 1.7 million Americans who watched team USA survive the group of death and advance to the elimination round without using a TV, cable box or antenna.

I live streamed the game and participated in one of the biggest shifts in the media landscape: mass media being rapidly overtaken by mass customization. Since the watershed BBC Olympics (powered by MarkLogic ), live streaming has become the norm in sports:

  • Last week’s USA match outpaced the Super Bowl’s record streaming audience 
  • Adoption is rapidly increasing – this is way up over even recent peaks like the Olympics from BBC and NBC.

And of course its part of a bigger trend: while Netflix keeps statistics close to the vest, Nielsen estimates that up to 38% of all US households use this “over the top” service.

Rapid Adoption of Streaming

For the users it’s obvious: we just want to watch whatever we want, whenever we want and wherever we want. My favorite quote from this new age was from a friend in the UK who said of the BBC Olympic coverage that she “got one of those magnetic iPad holders, stuck it to the fridge and watched in the kitchen”.

For the content providers it means a big shift from mass media to mass customization. Media can’t just be set out there – users need to be able to find it and outlets need to deliver it, customized to the users location and format, individually.

Perhaps no one does it better than the BBC. According to a ComputerWorld UK article, the BBC iPlayer team struggled “with the demands of supporting different platforms – from smartphones to tablets and even gaming consoles.”

They went back to the drawing board and retooled the infrastructure so that every request coming into the iPlayer is now a custom query – the users location, device and choice of show all come together to point them to the right media asset. As the number of users and devices skyrocketed the BBC team had to find the right technology to help them make every request more dynamic.

Using MarkLogic Enterprise NoSQL, the team was able to:

  • Use a flexible schema to handle complex metadata and “have one data store and then shape the data to the needs of the product”
  • Gain dramatic improvement in performance to process data and handle users requests: “what we got in 20 seconds on SQL took us 200 milliseconds in NoSQL”

If the recent numbers are any indicator, many more media companies will be facing these same challenges as more and more users cut the cord and get used to consuming everything on demand and anywhere they happen to be.

This week’s USA knockout game will likely set another high water mark – and help us all take one more step towards the new media landscape where mass customization is just how it’s done.

Go Team USA!