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A webcast is a media file distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology to distribute a single content source to many simultaneous listeners/viewers. A webcast may either be distributed live or on demand. Essentially, webcasting is “broadcasting” over the Internet.

The largest "webcasters" include existing radio and TV stations, who "simulcast" their output, as well as a multitude of Internet only "stations". The term webcasting usually refers to non-interactive linear streams or events. Rights and licensing bodies offer specific "webcasting licenses" to those wishing to carry out Internet broadcasting using copyrighted material.

Webcasting is also used extensively in the commercial sector for investor relations presentations (such as Annual General Meetings), in E-learning (to transmit seminars), and for related communications activities, such as generating awareness, cultivating thought leadership or delivering brand messaging. However, webcasting is a one-to-many technology and does not bear much, if any, relationship to web conferencing, which is designed for many-to-many interaction. Webcasting technologies that capture who is watching what content for how long are also used in business as engagement marketing tools for generating and nurturing leads.[1]

The ability to webcast using cheap/accessible technology has allowed independent media to flourish. There are many notable independent shows that broadcast regularly online. Often produced by average citizens in their homes they cover many interests and topics. Webcasts relating to computers, technology, and news are particularly popular and many new shows are added regularly.



"Webcasting" was first publicly described and presented by Brian Raila of GTE Laboratories at InterTainment '89, 1989, held in New York City, USA. Raila recognized that a viewer/listener need not download the entirety of a program to view/listen to a portion thereof, so long as the receiving device ("client computer") could, over time, receive and present data more rapidly than the user could digest the same. Raila used the term "buffered media" to describe this concept.

Raila was joined by James Paschetto of GTE Laboratories to further demonstrate the concept. Paschetto was singularly responsible for the first workable prototype of streaming media, which Raila presented and demonstrated at the Voice Mail Association of Europe 1995 Fall Meeting of October, 1995, in Montreux, Switzerland. Alan Saperstein (Visual Data, now known as Onstream Media (Nasdaq:ONSM), was the first company to feature video webcasting in June 1993 with HotelView, a travel library of two minute videos featuring thousands of hotel properties worldwide.

On November 7, 1994, WXYC, the college radio station of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill became the first radio station in the world to broadcast its signal over the internet.[2][3]

The term webcasting was coined (in the early/mid 1990s) when webcast/streaming pioneers Mark Cuban (Audionet), Howard Gordon (Xing Technologies), William Mutual (, Craig Schmieder (Applied Media Resources) and Peggy Miles (InterVox Communications) got together with a community of webcasters to pick a term to describe the technology of sending audio and video on the Net...that might make sense to people. The term netcasting was a consideration, but one of the early webcast community members owned a company called NetCast, so that term was not used, seeking a name that would not be branded to one company. Discussions were also conducted about the term with the National Association of Broadcasters for their books - Internet Age Broadcaster I and II, written by Peggy Miles and Dean Sakai.[citation needed]

The actual word "webcast" was coined by Daniel Keys Moran in his 1988 novel The Armageddon Blues:

... DataWeb News had done an in-depth on it not two weeks ago, and tourists had been trekking up into the New York hills ever since the webcast.

—page 191 of the Bantam paperback

Translated versions including Subtitling are now possible using SMIL Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language.


Virtually all the major broadcasters have a webcast of their output, from the BBC to CNN to Al Jazeera to UNTV in television to Radio China, Vatican Radio, United Nations Radio and the World Service in radio.

One of the earliest examples of a webcast occurred on August 13, 1998 in what is generally believed to be the first webcasted wedding, between Alan K'necht and Carrie Silverman in Toronto Canada.[4][5]

The earliest webcast equivalent of an online concert was by Glasgow band Travis who on May 28, 1999 performed a setlist from their recent album The Man Who in a local internet cafe on Sauchiehall Street.[6]

A notable webcast took place in September 1999 to launch NetAid, a project to promote Internet use in the world's poorest countries. Three high profile concerts were to be broadcast simultaneously on the BBC, MTV and over the Internet: a London concert at Wembley Stadium featuring the likes of Robbie Williams and George Michael; a New York concert featuring Bono of U2 and Wyclef Jean; and a Geneva concert.

More recently, Live8 (AOL) claimed around 170,000 concurrent viewers (up to 400 Kbit/s) and the BBC received about the same (10 Gbit/s) on the day of the 7 July 2005 bombings in London. The growth of webcast traffic has roughly doubled, year on year, since 1995 and is directly linked to broadband penetration.

Connecting Media was one of the first companies to do live webcasting using a special IFP Van (Internet Field Production) dedicated to webcasting.

Today, webcasts are being used more frequently and by novice users. Live webcasts enable the viewing of presentations, business meetings, and seminars etc. for those that telecommute rather than attend. Such sites offer live broadcasting as an affordable alternative to attending physical public speaking events expanding the viewing audience to anyone that has an internet connection. Other live webcasts are held completely online independent of any offline component. Webcast content network sites can enable users to find content that interests them by searching the site.

Live sporting events, both local and national, have also quickly become frequent webcast subjects. With regard to smaller events such as Little League, amateur sports, small college sports, and high school sports, webcasting allows these events to have full audio or video coverage online when they may not be able to book standard radio or TV time. Websites like Meridix Webcast Network, Texas Sports Radio Network, SportsJuice, and others allow local schools, teams, and broadcasters to produce their own webcasts, which also have the advantage of being accessible to anyone with an internet connection (i.e. relatives several states away), unlike the range and market limitations of terrestrial radio and TV.


A wedcast is a webcast of a wedding.[7][8] It allows family and friends of the couple to watch the wedding in real time on the Internet. It is sometimes used for weddings in exotic locations, such as Hawaii or the Caribbean, for which it is very expensive or difficult for people to travel to see the wedding in person.[7]

Webcasting a funeral is also a service provided by some funeral homes. Although it has been around for a decade, cheaper broadband, the financial strain of travel, and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have all lead to a recent increase in this phenomenon.[9]

See also


  1. ^|Generating and Nurturing Leads with Webcasts
  2. ^ Grossman, Wendy (1995-01-26). "Communications: Picture the scene". Online (Manchester, United Kingdom: The Guardian): pp. 4. 
  3. ^ WXYC 89.3 FM (1994-11-07). "WXYC announces the first 24-hour real-time world-wide Internet radio simulcast". Press release. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  4. ^ "Year in reviews August". Online (Montreal, Canada: The Montreal Mirror). 1998-12-25. 
  5. ^ "Various TV News Clips". Online (Toronto, Canada: Various). 1998-08-13. 
  6. ^ "TravisOnline". Online (Glasgow, Scotland: TravisOnline). 1999-05-28. 
  7. ^ a b Blanton, Kimberly (October 22, 2007.). "Can't make the ceremony? Watch the wedcast". The International Herald Tribune / The Boston Globe. 
  8. ^ Lee-St. John, Jeninne (December 6, 2007). "Wedcasting". Time.,9171,1692037,00.html. 
  9. ^|Service companies enable funeral homes to record and stream services

External links


Simple English

A webcast is a media file used on the Internet. It is new technology.


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