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World Cup Shows Streaming Is The New Norm, But At What Cost?

on Thursday, Jun. 26th

ESPN’s video streaming service had some trouble earlier today keeping up with the demand for the US-Germany World Cup match. This is what happens when 1.7 million people attempt to stream a game simultaneously; one you didn’t bother to show on the broadcast network that is a part of your corporate family.

While the sanctioned reaction to the streaming demand news is supposed to be either “Wow! That’s a lot!” or “They should have known better!” I’m sitting here wondering something else: what’s the carbon footprint of all these streams?

Seriously: does anyone out there know what the energy cost of 1.7 million video streams is versus the same number of viewers tuning in via broadcast or cable? How does it compare to the carbon footprint of other human endeavors? Is it a drop in the bucket, or did we just shave a day off humanity’s life expectancy to watch a team win by losing?

Maybe streaming is more energy efficient–it certainly has to be better than flying everyone down to watch the game live, not that such thing would really work–but no one seems to ever talk about the environmental costs that all this personalized entertainment infrastructure comes with.

Detail from the cover of Snow Crash.'

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Corey McCall with the video game controller that measures the level of excitement in the player. Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

These Game Controllers Will (One Day) Read Your Mind

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