Roger Federer, and When Live Media Isn’t Live

I’m as interested as ever in realtime and live media, especially web-enabled. I complained a little today on a related subject, with the absence of the macrumorslive site making the Apple event today a little less fun.

I got to thinking about it a little more this evening while watching the Roddick-Federer quarterfinal tennis match at the U.S. Open tonight. The match is one thing — into the third set, and the awesome Roger Federer is powering his way to a win; meanwhile we have the equally awesome Andre Agassi and John McEnroe in the commentator’s booth — but the mismatch between the live website and the “live” TV broadcast is another.

Why? Because USA Networks is seemingly showing the live event with a 10-ish second delay. You can watch the score change on the U.S. Open website, and then see it change on TV in front of you ten seconds later. Too bad there is no obvious way to lay down some bets accordingly, but the web as the true live media is intriguing stuff.


Here, by the way, is a must-watch Charlie Rose episode on Roger Federer. Why “must watch”? Partly because of the subject, but also because of the interview with tennis great Rod Laver. The latter segment was filmed in the television studio I use in San Diego, and I got a chance to meet Laver while there. A lovely man.


  1. One of the key reasons that a 10-second delay isn’t acceptable for true “live” coverage is how a delay of that magnitude makes it impossible for any real-time interaction with the broadcast.
    The main reason that Ustream is using centralized servers rather than P2P to deliver its live video service is the need to keep the latency of live video less than 1-2 seconds. This allows viewers to interact directly with broadcasters, and vice versa.
    Comments are what make blogs so participatory. Now imagine if you had a way to chat live with McEnroe and Agassi as the match was going on…that kind of real-time interactivity blows away comments.

  2. Brain Storms says:

    The 10 second delay on broadcast TV is in case the microphones pick up something that needs to be bleeped. They are supposed to also be able to cut the video in case of clothing “malfunction” or whatever.

  3. I’ve long wondered if CNBC has a delay,and if so how long it is. I work on a desk with both a Bloomberg terminal and a TV right in front of me. When economic stats come out, most of the time Bloomberg flashes it 15-30 seconds ahead of CNBC. I presume the reporters all get the data simultaneously, and sometimes CNBC does report first. But most of the time Bloomberg gets it out faster. This seems odd unless CNBC has a time delay.
    In any case, this is something you CAN bet on, and I would never depend on CNBC when seconds count.

  4. yep the delay is a madated delay to prevent cursing on the air or other weirdness from getting to Mable in Souix City.

  5. This is a great example of how live broadcast media, particularly sports, is so ripe for delivery via broadband– there is no need for artificial delays to conform to FCC regs. I can’t wait until we gain access to diverse video streams and commentary to customize the sports viewing experience.

  6. I never knew that the delay we experience on live broadcast media is a mandated delay. I had no idea! I guess it is a necessary precaution to avoid showing mishaps that are apt to happen on live television broadcasts.

  7. I don’t think CNBC has a delay. I could be wrong, but I’ll ask.