With so many people tuned in to their TVs, we thought it would be fun to take a look at how their behavior may have impacted Internet traffic. This year’s Super Bowl is particularly interesting to look at from our standpoint, since it was the first time that the game has been allowed to be streamed online (although the streaming was effectively limited to the U.S.).
With such a popular sporting event, and its newfound availability to be streamed, it should come as no surprise that there were noticeable changes in Internet traffic patterns. When compared to previous Sundays, NBCSports.com streaming saw an exponential increase in traffic. At 9pm, the Super Bowl stream accounted for 6.2% of downstream network traffic – territory usually reserved for the Internet’s biggest websites.
In our Global Internet Phenomena Reports, Sandvine has made the case that subscribers will always opt for the largest screen available to them. So while there were a significant number of users streaming the game, the vast majority of viewers still went offline and elected to watch it on their big screen TV. In fact so many subscribers did this, the Super Bowl actually created a “Super Dip” in Internet traffic.
The chart below, from a large fixed broadband operator in the United States, superimposes Super Bowl Sunday’s downstream Internet traffic over an average Sunday (produced by averaging the previous two Sundays’ of traffic). During the early part of the day, traffic levels were very consistent with the average. However, as soon as kickoff approached, downstream traffic began to fall off from typical levels. At its farthest deviation from the normal level, Super Bowl Sunday’s Internet traffic was 20% lower than the average Sunday.
What types of traffic were impacted the most? The biggest loser was Netflix, which lost the battle for the big screen TV. Normally the largest source of traffic in the North America, Netflix saw their usage drop by over 40%.
Like the New York Giants, some sites came out winners – the Social Networking sites Facebook and Twitter, both experienced a surge in traffic as viewers used their PCs and roaming-at-home mobile devices to provide their own commentary online.
Sandvine’s traffic statistics have showed continued growth in adoption of live streamed sports events, and Google’s search statistics also show that more users are actively looking for streaming options. While the overall experience of Super Bowl streaming got some mixed reviews from users, it is clear that live streaming is only going to get more popular, and if streaming is being provided for one of the most watched events of all-time, then users will soon start expecting it to be offered for everything they watch.