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Nielsen, We Have a Problem


For a generation that never experienced the Apollo missions, NASA’s successful landing of the SUV sized rover, Curiosity, on mars was the pinnacle of interstellar achievement for us millennials.  Perhaps equally exciting for denizens of disruptive media distribution models — when it came to actually watching Curiosity’s descent, far more people tuned in via web stream than traditional broadcast news. Mashable talked to a spokesperson from Ustream, one of the Internet outlets on which the landing was broadcast:

More than 3.2 million people tuned in to the live streaming platform to see Sunday night’s landing of the Mars Curiosity rover, according to spokesman Tony Riggins.

“More people tuned in to watch the NASA Mars landing coverage on Ustream than many of the top cable news networks during Sunday primetime,” he told Mashable in an email.

Nielsen television ratings for Sunday’s primetime slot showed that the major cable news networks (CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and FOX) attracted just over 1.7 million viewers, meaning that almost twice as many people opted to watch online. NASA authorized the broadcast free of charge, which enabled Curiosity’s descent to be shown on a number of online platforms, likely facilitating its superb Internet viewership. Ustream also carries a “social stream” feature, which allows viewers to communicate online while watching broadcasts. On the day of the landing, over 102,000 such messages were sent.  (Unsurprisingly, Ustream, the technology that allowed so many people the world over to take in this amazing event has also been the target of frivolous copyright infringement litigation despite being fully DMCA-compliant.)


New technologies are constantly emerging that promise to change our lives for the better. These disruptive technologies give us an increase in choice, make technologies more accessible, make things more affordable, and give consumers a voice. And the pace of innovation has only quickened in recent years, as the Internet has enabled a wave of new, inter-connected devices that have benefited consumers around the world, seemingly in all aspects of their lives. Preserving an innovation-friendly market is, therefore, tantamount not only to businesses but society at large.