Changes Are Coming to NASA TV on the Web

We’ve been streaming NASA TV on the web in earnest since 2004, when the Mars Exploration Rovers landed. Then 50,000 people watched our mission coverage on RealMedia, in windows probably not much bigger than today’s smartphone screen. Seven years later, more than 560,000 people watched the launch of the last space shuttle mission, many of them on an HD feed in Adobe Flash that filled a 22-inch monitor quite respectably. Others watched on their phones and tablets. Over the course of the mission, all that video meant that in two weeks we shipped almost as much data (1.2 petabytes, or more than 1.2 billion megabytes) than we did in all 2010.

And, unfortunately, we can’t afford to keep that up. Before adding HD and iOS streaming, we were streaming about 50 TB a month. Now we’re averaging five times that. This doesn’t fit well under a firm fixed-price contract. So while we’ve been able to find some additional funds, we’re also going to have to reduce our usage somewhat. Specifically, we’re going to:

  • Continue streaming the NASA TV public channel in HD at its current top resolution
  • Continue streaming to iOS devices at the current top resolution
  • Shift the ISS video stream to Ustream. (The mission audio stream, and the NASA TV media and educational channels, may also switch to Ustream.)
  • Discontinue streaming in RTSP format.

That last will affect users of older Android phones, those operating on OS 2.1 or earlier. Unfortunately, the cost of the RTSP stream was quite high (higher even that the main HD feed of NASA TV) and the audience was never very big, fewer than 800 during peaks that saw hundreds of thousands of users on other formats. So it simply didn’t make sense to keep doing it that way. While we hate to shut down any capability, we do have to manage the taxpayers’ money smartly.

You’ll see these changes take affect late next week. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.

3 thoughts on “Changes Are Coming to NASA TV on the Web”

  1. Why have you changed the live feed to windows media player. It was one of the best things you did, even when there was something private going on there was either los or an external view. Now there something masquerading on ustream with a tiny bit of the original feed. The audio and video quality is horrific and takes away the enjoyment of watching and listening to the crew doing their day to day stuff or iss and its sunrises and sunsets over our spinning Planet.
    That is the biggest loss of all and i will miss that one the most as it was a welcome reflective break from studies watching while i mulled over my next bit of work or assignment. Every time i have looked at your new format it has been a repeat or offline, and i can honestly say by the time exp 30 goes up I won’t be watching any feed at this rate.

    Sad User.

  2. I used to follow NASA TV on my PC desktop in Windows Media Player or VLC, whatever (thank you for that). Now I miss the capability to detach the video from your Web page and keep it as minimal on my desktop. Could you please find a way to restore this feature? Thank you.

  3. You have the brains and technology, please find a way.

    It’s a shame, but there must be a way.



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