If they are broadcasting the webinar on the net why is there any limit to those who want to register? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Having run a company that offered a webinar service platform, I know the answer to why there is a limit to the number of people who can register: it's because there's an actual cost involved in every person attending.
Every platform out there has a limit on how many people can attend. They sell you subscription plans that have hard limits - 100, 250, 500, 1000, etc. They make a significantly higher margin based on "broken bucket" behavior from people who buy "big plans" but never fill their rooms, and they're OK with that.
They also have hard limits built into their platforms. While you can get 1,000 person rooms with some platforms, some of them crash when you get close to that or deliver awful audio and video performance.
When I was the architect of the AV system for SlideStorm, I took a different approach based on a couple of decades of doing a thing at Internet-scale, and had a theoretical limit of 1.5 million participants per room. The largest event we hosted was only a few thousand, but we never had performance issues.
The main thing you have to worry about on a cost basis is that you're paying a couple of cents per gigabyte transferred out of your origin server. If you're running audio-only, that's cheap; if you're running HD live-action video, it is not cheap.
So you figure out the average use for a given room size, set prices based on margin targets and the competitive landscape, and hope for the best. But you never let anyone have a room and say "hey, invite everyone in the world!" because it'll kill you, financially.
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