There is no singular sporting event that captures the world's attention quite like the Olympics. And there is enough data to show that the 2012 Olympic Games attracted the largest aggregate online audience ever for a sporting competition.
Of course, with an event that spans more than two weeks with hundreds of competitions from athletes from all corners of the globe, it is no wonder that total online viewership would break records.
Add the fact that there are more devices and means for consuming sports and entertainment than ever before - with the tablet increasingly finding a spot as a second screen while watching TV - and we can all comfortably surmise that the London games were experienced by more people than any preceding Olympics in history.
On Akamai's global platform alone, we delivered more than one billion aggregate video views - a milestone we believed possible before the games started.
We saw a staggering increase in mobile video traffic for an online event. And when all was said and done after the closing ceremony, we had delivered almost double the amount of total traffic for a one-time event - breaking a record we set two years ago.
Looking at total traffic served for the recent Olympics another way; Akamai delivered the equivalent of approximately 9,500 years of video in just two weeks. We collaborated with nearly every major broadcaster in the world - 22 in all - that had acquired the rights to stream the Games online.
With technology evolving so quickly, it is hard to even compare the recent Olympics to any other sporting event. Consider that there has been unprecedented growth in connected devices since the soccer World Cup of 2010 (another event that ranks among the largest that Akamai supported).
To share some additional perspective, following are some numbers we have compiled since the close of the Games.
Akamai experienced a 151% growth in the rate of content served per hour in Europe over the next largest sporting event we had supported in that region. In terms of data volume transferred, mobile traffic during the Olympics was 3.82% of the total. Looking at concurrent users, this gets to 7% of all viewers leveraging mobile.
We saw an average bitrate of 1,200-kbps during the 2012 Olympics. This is a 23% increase in the bitrate served over the last major sporting event of this size two years ago, the World Cup. This includes mobile traffic, which has lower bitrates, demonstrating that connectivity is better as more viewers are getting higher quality video and broadcasters are less concerned with handling traffic peaks.
So, which competitions drove peaks in traffic on the Akamai platform during the recent Olympics? Following are the top four peaks and corresponding events:
Men's 100m final - August 5th - 1 873-Gbps (Usain Bolt wins gold in 9.63 seconds)
Table Tennis final, Men's sync 3m Diving final, Cycling final, Men's Kayak final - August 1st - 2 850-Gbps
Basketball semi-final, Beach Volley final, Soccer final, Women's Water Polo final - August 9th - 3 833-Gbps
Archery final, Badminton final, Men's Trampoline final - August 3rd - 4 803-Gbps.
Congratulations to the city of London, and all the athletes, on a job well done.
Jeff Young is Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Akamai