TV is not the only way to watch this year’s games however, with many broadcasters across the world placing significant emphasis on providing live streaming options so subscribers can watch the games on their computer, tablet, or smartphone wherever they are.
In the US, NBC has come under some fire for not streaming all events (such as the opening ceremonies), as well as for only allowing subscribers who have a cable or satellite package to live stream events. Even with those restrictions in place we still think the streaming will be wildly popular with subscribers, so we decided to take a look at how NBC’s Live Extra Olympic Streaming has contributed to fixed access network traffic in the US.
Below is a chart showing the volume and share of traffic for NBC’s Olympic streaming over the weekend. At its peak on Sunday at around 10:00am it accounted for almost 15% of total network traffic. At this time, we believe most people were likely streaming swimming preliminaries, a hypothesis reinforced by the fact that the second peak seen at around 3:00pm also coincided with another swimming event, the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay.
Be sure to keep in mind that the chart above has two axes that shows traffic share (green line), as well as absolute traffic levels (blue line). This is important to note because despite that second peak on Sunday showing a roughly 3% lower traffic share, Olympic streaming traffic by volume was actually 16% higher at 3pm due to there being more users on the network than earlier in the day.
Switching focus to devices used by subscribers to stream, it is interesting, although perhaps not surprising to note that PCs are the most popular device used by subscribers. However, that lead is a small one, and on Saturday we even briefly saw tablet usage overtake PC usage. When tallying all bytes streamed over this past weekend, tablets and smartphones roaming on home networks accounted for over 44% of all video traffic.
One final thing I thought I’d take a look is the impact that the Olympics are having on Netflix traffic because of recent comments from Netflix where they warned that “the Olympics are likely to have a negative impact on Netflix viewing and sign-ups”.
The chart below compares Netflix traffic levels from this past weekend, with the average traffic levels of the previous three weekends in July. Contrary to their own prediction, we actually saw Netflix traffic levels increase slightly over that of previous weeks. While it is too early to tell what impact the full two week event will have on their traffic levels (the first weekend has few marquee events), we would not be surprised to see the Olympics have little to no impact on Netflix and for their traffic to continue to slowly grow organically, even if it might not be growing as fast as other Real-Time Entertainment applications.
Over the next two weeks, I’ll continue to comb through data from around the world and hope to bring some more interesting insight. If you have anything particular you would like us to try and examine, please leave us a comment and I will do my best to look into it.