On a relaxing Sunday afternoon in October, I decided to settle down and watch something truly spectacular on my laptop from the comfort of my sofa.
Daredevil stuntman and skydiver supremo, Felix Baumgartner ascended into the stratosphere by balloon and then jumped back down to Earth from over 120,000 ft. breaking a number of world records in the process; Baumgartner is the first human being to go through the sound barrier without the assistance of a vehicle.
For someone born in the 80s who missed out on the 1969 Moon landings and indeed much of the ‘Space Race’, this was truly memorable, the like of which we may not see again.
However, it struck me that the medium by which people around the globe watched it – YouTube – was as integral to the story as Baumgartner. Indeed, the jump reached eight million concurrent views on the social media video channel, which in itself is a record and echoes other sporting events such as the Superbowl and World Series which are regularly judged by the number of viewers rather than what actually happens.
For the sponsors, Red Bull, the jump was a real PR coup with Twitter used to full effect through @RedBullStratos and #livejump hashtag as thousands of users joined in to discuss.
Now of course, if it wasn’t for the digital age, we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this feet of human courage and endeavour either via YouTube or rolling news networks, but I can’t help feeling we need to let Mr Baumgartner have his moment and think about viewing figures later.