On Sunday night around midnight, NASA landed a new rover on the planet Mars, and it was streamed live on the video website Ustream to 3.2 million people — that’s more people than watched all of the U.S. cable news networks combined on the same night.
The 3.2 million number comes from Ustream, a streaming video site that specializes in broadcasting live events like red carpet premieres, social media interviews, and well, interplanetary journeys, apparently. On the flip side, Nielsen ratings reported that only about 1.6 million people were watching all three major U.S. 24-hour news networks combined (MSNBC, CNN, and FOX News) at any given moment.
Ustream was quick to brag about this, but it’s a little deceptive; not everyone watched every minute of the stream. The concurrent peak was 500,000 — about 300,000 less than primetime ratings for FOX News, the top cable news network. Still, this is an indication that people are definitely more than open to watching live events on the web; live programming has for a while now been one of the few areas where traditional cable still fares well.
Streaming video is only getting bigger, and cable and satellite’s subscription numbers are in decline. We’re a long way from one replacing the other, but the trend is there.