Update (March 16th): Looks like YouTube’s got its act together. The live streaming is working fine for me today. I’m in the office, watching the Royal Challengers challenge the Kings XI Punjab on YouTube.

Earlier (March 15th): The five-minute-deferred-live webcast of the Indian Premier League Cricket tournament on YouTube struggled over the weekend, facing technical difficulties, or just not loading: it was disastrous. Users frequently saw YouTube’s version of ‘the blue screen of death’, stating that “We may be experiencing some technical difficulties. Please stay tuned.”

Bharti Airtel might be giving its users a leg-up, switching them to 2mbps speed when accessing the IPL on YouTube, but this means little if the streaming isn’t working. Even though the streaming did resume, it was intermittent, and the picture quality was rather poor. Given that this was YouTube’s first day of almost-live streaming the IPL, one could expect teething troubles. However, issues continued into Day two, with the site being inaccessible, and at times returning the blue screen. Readers should remember that IPLT20.com also had similar issues last year, though the picture quality was better.

But this is just a small glitch for YouTube: we believe that the company is viewing these IPL streaming rights as a long term investment, and wouldn’t be surprised if they retain them next year as well. The IPL is to YouTube in India what the Olympics was to NBC. This showcase event is a big part of Google’s plan to attract key advertisers to YouTube, now that the company has several channels of premium and professional content on the website, in partnership with media companies. For the IPL, YouTube has managed to land Royal Challengers, HSBC India, HP, Airtel, Coca Cola and Samsung as advertisers.

Apart from the IPL page banner advertisements, pre-rolls and mid-roll video ads, we also noticed “Paste-Up” advertisements from HSBC during the screening of the first game. HSBC might want to do something about the transparent creatives, though: