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Summary:

Adobe’s RTMP live streaming protocol was one of the biggest winners of the Royal Wedding, according to a new report from traffic management specialist Sandvine. That means that most live streams were likely watched in Flash. Twitter, Facebook and the BBC’s iPlayer also saw huge demand.

royal wedding

Maybe Flash isn’t dead just yet: New numbers from traffic management specialist Sandvine reveal that a huge percentage of the record-breaking live video traffic during last week’s Royal Wedding was transmitted via RTMP, a protocol that is commonly used for Adobe Flash live streaming.

Sandvine reports that global video streaming traffic grew 26 percent during the event, and RTMP-based streaming video offerings were the one of the biggest beneficiaries of this surge. RTMP traffic grew by about 100 percent compared to normal levels, totaling about four percent of all Internet traffic. Other forms of video streaming saw more modest increases, with traditional non-live Flash video growing only slightly.

One of the more curious findings of Sandvine is that YouTube video traffic was actually down during the event, which seems odd, given the fact that the official royal family stream was hosted on YouTube. Sandvine explains it this way:

“This could be due, in part, to a preference for watching the event on the television, or on media Internet sites, with commentary and additional visuals that YouTube’s basic camera feeds lacked.”

However, there is another possible explanation: YouTube sometimes gets help from major CDNs to handle large live streaming events, and it could just be that the Royal Wedding stream, while hosted by YouTube, was actually an RTMP stream delivered from third-party servers. We’ve contacted both YouTube and Sandvine about this and will update this post if we hear more.

Update: Sandvine researcher Lee Brooks told us via email that the company did in fact include all the YouTube Live streams into the YouTube traffic category. He added:

“The actual shape of the YouTube profile is indicative of the success of their Royal Wedding Channel; however, with significantly fewer people active online than a normal Friday, over-all YouTube traffic was lower than normal.  The Royal Wedding’s contribution to YouTube’s traffic was still sufficient to make up the difference, though, and the Royal Wedding traffic from YouTube Live likely represented 2-3% of total Internet traffic during the ceremony itself.”

Either way, Adobe can mark this event as a success story for its Flash Media server offering, which is the primary source for RTMP streams. However, the picture may have looked a little different if more TV networks had offered live streams of the event for mobile and iOS devices. Case in point: The BBC’s iPlayer, which is available for iOS, saw huge spikes during the royal wedding, with mobile traffic growing up to 1400 percent.

Also worth noting: Overall Internet traffic was down 10 percent during the wedding, as many people were simply glued to their screens. However, people still had enough time to tweet and update their Facebook status, and the traffic of both of these services grew significantly.

  1. This is just one more proof we should never listen to Apple’s CEO and its armada of lunatics when it gets to any technology that competes with Apple’s way of doing things or challenge its corporate agenda. Flash rules on the web and will be even more significant on mobile (both native and web apps) that it has ever been on computers. Follow the fight on http://www.twitter.com/flexengineer.

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