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.
Plusnet Product Team
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