Blog Post

Stats: Five Percent Of English Soccer Viewers Watched Match Online

Let’s hope broadcasters have got their CDNs in order – this summer’s World Cup is proving a genuine watershed for live online TV streaming. Look at these stats…

BBC.co.uk served a peak of 800,000 concurrent live streams during yesterday’s England-Slovenia match; Wimbledon was also streaming, but the BBC said the “vast majority” of viewers watched soccer.

— That’s 5.5 percent of the match’s peak BBC One TV audience of 14.3 million (in other words, about five percent of all the BBC’s England match views yesterday were online, not including the BBC HD channel).

— It blows away the BBC’s previous record, which it set only this Monday, of 355,000 streams of World Cup, Wimbledon and Budget coverage.

— And it’s only just shy of views YouTube’s U2 concert and Obama’s inauguration speech pulled, as James Cridland points out.

— Monday’s record had eclipsed the BBC’s previous peak of 270,000 live streams during last year’s Murray-Roddick match at Wimbledon.

Several factors are at work here…

— General consumer adoption of broadband has grown healthily.

— All of the content was taking place during daytime at UK offices, where people have internet on tap.

— It’s summer and it’s sunny; people have little inclination to work.

— People love live sport.

— No longer just a TV operator, the BBC offers many choices of match to watch – though England was the biggest draw, tennis fans also had a choice of matches to watch on BBC.co.uk.

In fact, online TV viewing is coming in to its own. If the BBC is unable to carry Formula 1 qualifying in its entirety, for whatever reason, on TV on any given Saturday, rather than drop the production it goes ahead anyway, online, satisfying the sport’s loyal following – very smart.

ITV.com claimed an average 130,000 views per match during the World Cup’s opening week, though the two England games it has carried so far were after office hours, when people are back at their TVs.

But all this growth comes with bandwidth challenges…

— UK internet traffic during the game was 55 percent up from a normal Wednesday, ISP Demon says (via Guardian.co.uk).

— Though business ISP easyNet Connect says traffic from offices was 226 percent up – so it’s clear how much UK workplace productivity would have dipped yesterday).

Many ITV.com users complained they were unable to connect last week, and some UK users on Wednesday had problems viewing the USA-Algeria game, which the BBC was streaming online at the same time as England-Slovenia, which streamed just fine.

The BBC has contracts with Level3, Akamai (NSDQ: AKAM) and Limelight (NSDQ: LLNW) for content delivery network services.

Akamai figures from the top 100 news sites in its network show how, after both the England and USA games ended on Wednesday, “traffic spiked to 11.2 million visitors per minute, which moves the event past the 2008 presidential election as the second highest traffic spike of all-time”, Mashable observes.

If this trend continues, the importance of CDNs will only increase.