After the popularity of the online-streamed Inauguration, a sense of rising expectation for live video is already palpable.
During Sunday's Grammy broadcast on CBS, for example, the Grammys did exactly what award shows should be doing: they partnered with hip online destinations. Both Twitter and Facebook carried official Grammy updates.
?uestlove of the Roots and producer Diplo also offered a steady stream of Twitter updates from their insider perspective at the Los Angeles award show.
But that wasn't necessarily enough. Eventually to answer users' questions, the Twitter posts confirmed that there was no official way to stream the award show. There was a Twitter stream, but not a (legal) video stream. (Highlight clips were later posted on Grammys.com.)
One user, Scott Heisel of Cleveland, wrote: "It's really kind of sad you can't stream the ceremony online. You wonder why people under 30 no longer watch? Meet our needs!"
In the same week, President Barack Obama's first press conference on Monday was streamed online. Hulu, the video site co-founded by News Corp. and NBC Universal, was one destination.
And when ESPN landed the big interview with Alex Rodriguez featuring his admission of using steroids, the network streamed it on its Web site, ESPN.com, just as quickly as it aired it on its flagship network.
Taking these events together, the message was clear: people now expect major events — particularly those that are live — to simultaneously appear across platforms. The Inauguration raised the bar and people haven't forgotten.
When Obama was sworn in last month, analysts believe the Internet had its greatest traffic ever. CNN.com, for one, provided 21.3 million streams over a nine-hour span.
The huge surge in traffic caused problems for many users who encountered sluggish or broken transmissions, (NPR.org also suffered an outage).
But the robust online video offering helped condition users to expect that to watch a major event, they can turn on their computer just as well as they can turn on their TV.
If an online feed isn't provided, users may take to illegal streams from international pirates or interactive webcasting sites like Justin.tv or Ustream.tv.
Online piracy has become an increasing problem for one of the main sources of live television: professional sports.
The National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League all offer packages of streamed games for a price. Viewers, though, sometimes seek out free, pirated transmissions elsewhere.
Perhaps the next major live event on the horizon is the Academy Awards, which will be held Feb. 22nd and broadcast on ABC. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Thursday confirmed there are no plans for an online broadcast.
CBS's telecast of the performance-heavy Grammys was seen by an estimated 19.1 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was an increase of about 2 million viewers over last year's show, but award show ratings have collectively been falling in recent years.
There are viewers to be found online, though.
EDITOR'S NOTE — How important is it to you that major events be streamed live online? E-mail AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle at jcoyle(at)ap.org.
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