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Online Olympic Coverage - More and More turn to the BBC iPlayer

August 19th, 2008 at 15:31 by Dave Tomlinson

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that people are watching the Olympics online. Decent quality streams from a legitimate and easy to use source, iPlayer from the BBC for UK viewers is a convenient choice, particularly when you aren’t near a television.

NBC Universal in the USA reports that 4.2 million watched the opening ceremony via their website, increasing to 7.8 million by Monday. It wouldn’t surprise me if even more were watching online by the start of the second week.

Below is a graph showing iPlayer traffic on our network since the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony saw around 600Mbps of bandwidth being used by iPlayer representing somewhere around 1,500 people watching just on Plusnet. On a normal day iPlayer traffic tends to peak around 300Mbps with a few spikes up towards 500Mbps when popular shows and events have been on (such as The Open and Doctor Who).

Today we are seeing over 950Mbps of bandwidth being used by iPlayer, how much of that is down to the new high quality stream is difficult to say, and some may well be catching up on last night’s Dragons’ Den, but we still estimate that around 2,000 of our customers are watching the Olympics right now.

Around lunchtime is also the most people time to watch the coverage, in the time I’ve been writing this blog the high point has gone first from 850Mbps to 900Mbps and now to 950Mbps. I may have to revise this figure to say 1Gbps before it goes live. This graph shows the last two hours (taken at 12:30pm). Note: the graphs show slightly different amounts because the sampling intervals are longer the longer the time period the graph shows, at two hours the sampling is done every 5 minutes.

We are though starting to see a real change, as the Olympics have gone on the number of people watching has increased, the peak on the bandwidth has increased and the length of time has stretched.

What’s probably happening is that people are telling their friends they’ve been watching the Olympics online while they are work and the great success of the British team is certainly helping people to enjoy the coverage.

It is interesting to note that the majority of the increase in iPlayer traffic is coming from business customers, this is largely evident with the times when the traffic is highest (roughly 9am to 5pm).

It would also be interesting to know how many of the people watching online are first time users of iPlayer and whether they will continue to use it once the Olympics have finished and how peoples’ ongoing behavior will change.

Dave Tomlinson

Plusnet Product Team

dave

This entry was posted by Dave Tomlinson on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 at 3:31 pm and is tagged with and is posted in the category Traffic Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


9 comments on "Online Olympic Coverage - More and More turn to the BBC iPlayer"

Be3G

The funny thing is, I've been using the iPlayer a lot more during the past couple of weeks than before, but not to watch the Olympics - I've just generally found there're a couple more things on TV these days that I want to keep tabs on.

phil

Following on from Be3G's post - people could also be using it more because of the interface improvements made by BBC. I use the streaming service exclusively and some of the new features they've added ('recently watched' and the radio streaming within the player) make it more useful than before.

[...] have reported a doubling of iPlayer traffic over their network, this appears largely due to people watching the Olympics at work. With iPlayer [...]

Interesting post. Does your definition of iPlayer traffic also include embedded streaming content from within a page on the BBC site? I would say that most people I've seen watching the Olympics have not being using the dedicated iPlayer, but have been watching the embedded content from the new improved streaming on the Beeb's main sites.

[...] Olympic fever Plusnet’s Dave Tomlinson blogged about the huge demand for Olympic coverage online. This is a hot subject and it was covered by lots [...]

dave

Hi Paul,

Our signature picks up embedded streaming content on the BBC site as iPlayer traffic, simple reason is that the BBC use the same technology for both the main iPlayer streaming application and the embedded content so it just picks them both up the same.

[...] seen, but it’s clear that demand for the iPlayer is continuing to grow strong. UK ISP Plusnet saw its iPlayer traffic numbers double during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and triple during select [...]

Thank Christ for that, the games are coming to an end! We can finally have some network bandwidth back!

BBC I Player! grrr!

People should get a TV! and allow the Internet to be used for what it was designed for!

My 6.5Mbs link has been down to about 2 recently!

James Reynolds. Get yourself a lowered contention connection, don't share yours with the standard 1:50 houses, get 1:10, there is a much more consistent high level of service

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