Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup Traffic

I noted yesterday that the BBC said they had 800,000 concurrent streams of people watching the England v Slovenia match on Tuesday, which I watched in our Covent Garden offices in London - and didn't Kevin in our facilities team do a cracking job of decorating the TV area for?:So I thought I'd find out from Tim in our networks team (who is a general all round transit, routing and peering guru) what proportion of those were our residential customers - and I got all kinds of interesting graphs in response.

Ahead of the World Cup the networks team worked with the BBC and Akamai (the main streaming provider for the tournament) to put in place some dedicated peering links for World Cup (and Wimbledon) traffic and from the peaks we've seen over those links they've certainly been being used:
[Click on for a larger version; Note: Scale removed as figures are commercially sensitive]

We experienced a definite traffic spike when the match was being played on Wednesday compared to a 'normal' Wednesday daytime:
[Fig 2: Total Virgin Media Internet Traffic, 23/6/2010 vs 9/6/2010; Note: Scale removed as figures are commercially sensitive]

Note also the relative dip in the evening as the never ending tennis match on Tuesday night dragged people away from their broadband connections and in front of the TV as well as the evening's football match ... and no doubt a few people out celebrating!

Having a look at the traffic on our dedicated Akamai ports also shows a significant spike in traffic:[Fig 3: Traffic levels over Virgin Media's dedicated Akamai private peer; Note: Scale removed as figures are commercially sensitive]

We believe that we had something in the region of 35,000 to 37,500 concurrent streams (and a 30% increase in traffic compared to the same period on a 'normal' Wednesday) watching the match at any one time which, given our market share, would suggest to me that the BBC had the majority of their streams coming from people watching the game from work connections rather than their home ISP broadband connections.

By contrast, for England's opening match (which was in the evening on a Saturday) we saw an 8% decrease in overall Internet traffic (compared to a 'normal' Saturday) as people watched the game on TV in the main:
[Fig 4: Total Virgin Media Internet Traffic, 12/6/2010 vs 5/6/2010; Note: Scale removed as figures are commercially sensitive]

Overall though I was happiest at the result on Thursday, when my native New Zealand team managed to finish the whole tournament unbeaten - unlike Spain, Germany, France and Italy ... and ahead of Italy in our group to top off a magnificent performance. Well done to them all!

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