World Cup raises bar


Online video streaming ­traffic soared during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In fact, cloud ­services provider Akamai Technologies expects the public’s reliance on web resources such as video streaming to continue to grow with future sporting events.

“Over this year, we’ve streamed a lot of major events across the globe including the 56th Grammy Awards, the Super Bowl and the Sochi 2014 Olympics. And we’ve been seeing a continuous increase in everything from traffic, usage and consumption,” says Nakul Srinivas, product marketing manager for media in Asia Pacific and Japan at Akamai.

“The World Cup is the ­largest live event that Akamai has helped to deliver so far. Our ­customers ­included 50 World Cup rights ­holders and 25 different ­broadcasters across 80 countries.”

Nakul says meeting the demand for quality content delivery continues to be one of the main challenges that Akamai faces when providing its media delivery solutions.

“Over the last two years, the demand for quality has grown at a rate of almost 45% to 50% as people are watching more videos online.”

He cites several reasons for such spikes in Internet traffic during this World Cup season.

“Firstly, a significant surge in traffic came from the 12 venues where the World Cup matches were being held. Secondly, websites hosted in Brazil received many international hits due to searches for travel and tourism information. This is associated with people travelling there (for the World Cup),” Nakul explains.

In addition, he says the overall popularity of football across the globe was a contributing factor as well.

Nakul also says that Internet ­traffic tended to be higher for ­weekday matches. “Matches on Tuesdays, for instance, had higher online video consumption than those on Sundays. This is probably because people were watching the matches on the move as they couldn’t be at home during those times.”

Matching demand

Comparing the traffic due to video streaming for the World Cup to that of the Sochi Olympics, Nakul says Akamai delivered 2.5x more volume this time.

“Over 20 of the World Cup games exceeded the Sochi Olympics peak of 3.5Tbps (terabits per second),” he adds.

The first World Cup match to exceed the previous online ­streaming record was Germany vs Portugal, which had 4.3Tbps of Internet traffic.

However, the highest traffic of 6.9Tbps was recorded during the Argentina vs Netherlands game.

Meanwhile, the second highest figure came from the combined traffic of the Portugal vs Ghana and USA vs Germany matches. Both matches had taken place ­simultaneously.

“There has been such a dynamic shift in traffic volumes in just the span of four to five months, ­especially for sports events,” says Nakul, referring to the stark ­difference in present Internet ­consumption as opposed to what it had been in February during the Olympics.

“Almost 10% of our viewers were consuming content online, while the remainder was through ­conventional means like television.”

Also, online traffic has grown seven times since the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Learn more about Akamai’s World Cup Internet traffic data at ­www.­akamai.com/worldcup.