Final Tally: Olympics Web and P2P Numbers

The Olympics are over, and it’s time for a final medal count. No, we’re not talking about Michael Phelps here, nor about the fact that the Chinese got more gold medals than everyone else. Instead, we’re gonna take one last look at where people went to watch the Olympics online.

First the good news for NBC: served a total of 75.5 million streams during the games despite all the uproar about Silverlight, tape delays and a bad UI. The site clocked a total of 9.9 million hours of online video coverage. That’s impressive, even if NBC’s online video advertising revenue wasn’t, but there are plenty of other success stories all around the globe.

The BBC also had some major success with its web-based offering, serving almost 40 million streams until late last week, according to the BBC Internet blog. It had almost 200,000 concurrent viewers watching a total of 6.5 million hours of Olympic coverage – and those figures don’t even include the competitions held the final weekend, nor the closing ceremony. The BBC hasn’t published any numbers for its iPlayer yet either, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the video platform saw its traffic triple during the games. The broadcaster only served 2.5 million streams during the games in Athens four years ago.

Other European countries saw large numbers of online viewers as well. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) estimates that a total of 18 million viewers tuned into streams from the games, and its member networks served a total of 180 million streams online. The BBC is a member of the EBU, which means that the Brits caused almost a fourth of all of Europe’s Olympic video streams.

China’s state television network CCTV saw even bigger numbers online. The network told the New York Times that more than 100 million people accessed Olympic video streams on its web site.

But CCTV’s site wasn’t the only way to watch the Olympics in China. The network also sub-licensed the online rights to P2P TV platforms like PPLive. The company told us that a total of 5.5 million viewers used its client to watch the opening ceremony, with 1.6 million concurrent users tuning in during the ceremony itself.

PPLive’s daily concurrent viewers during the Olympics. Image courtesy of PPLive.

PPLive saw similarly high numbers during the rest of the games, with daily peak concurrent viewers anywhere between 210,000 and 500,000 during regular competition days, and climbing up to 820,000 viewers for the closing ceremony.

Finally, the pirates didn’t do too shabby, either. The most popular torrent of the opening ceremony still remains in the top 10 of sites like Mininova and The Pirate Bay, with Mininova alone clocking nearly 600,000 downloads for a collection of files that totals about five gigabytes.

Downloaders of the opening ceremony torrent by country. Source:

This particular torrent had almost 100,000 seeders at one point, according to market research company Wiredset. Also interesting: The vast majority of downloaders are from China, with the U.S. only accounting for eight percent of its downloads.