2012 Olympics Breaks BBC Online Record
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
As the athletes head home, as the temporary venues are closed down and life returns to normal in the British capital, the London Olympics are now just history. For London, the third time was the charm, as the city previously hosted the games in 1908 and again 40 years later in 1948.
Many records were broken while many dreams failed to be achieved.
In the pool, Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands broke the women’s 100 meter freestyle while Allison Schmitt of the United States broke the women’s 200 meter freestyle. On the track Usain Bolt of Jamaica set the Olympic record in the 100 meter in track and field, but American Lolo Jones came up fourth, dashing her hope for redemption from failing to medal in Beijing for years ago.
But the biggest records of all weren’t achieved by the athletes, but by the views the online content received in these games.
For the BBC this was actually the second time the national broadcaster covered the games – as there was no BBC at the time of the 1908 games – and it resulted in its largest web audience ever. In fact the games attracted a bigger web audience in a single day than the eyeballs it reached during the entire 2010 football World Cup!
It was reported on Monday that the BBC served up 2.8 petabytes of sporting content. That amount of data would take about 700,000 DVDs.
However, not all the content that was streamed included those where records were broken. Viewers were able to see streaming coverage of just a bit of the track and field, including morning heats. But Bolt of Jamaica’s eventual run, which set the Olympic record in the 100 meter in track and field was on TV in prime time. Likewise, those who wanted to see Bolt along with his teammates including Nesta Carter, Michale Frater and Yohan Blake take part in the 4 x 100 meter relay – where the Olympic record was also set – were directed to the broadcast.
And it was just records being broken that broke online usage records either. British fans likely helped push traffic to 700Gbits per second on August 1 to see Bradley Wiggins – fresh off his Tour de France victory just a week and a half earlier – win the men’s cycling time trial. That weekday traffic surpassed the prior Saturday’s traffic, when cycling fans likely tuned in online to see Mark Cavendish’s failed gold attempt in the cycling road race with 531,000 requests.
The most popular clip to be requested during the games – at 830,000 times – was a “back flop” by the German diver Steven Feck. The clip went viral and attracted millions of views on YouTube before it was taken down. In fact it was so popular – and because of the ban on the posting of video on social media – spawned recreations including one from the Xbox 360 version of the London Olympics 2012 video game!
Given that influx of social media coverage and how many tried to “avoid” the outcomes being spoiled, it seemed many British fans simply turned to online coverage during the day to see the events live on the computer.
“While PC and tablet usage has generally peaked and dipped at different times of the day, mobile consumption has increased steadily from the morning to a plateau in the early afternoon, before dipping away in conjunction with TV viewing in the evening,” said Cait O’Riordan, a senior BBC’s online sport executive to the Daily Telegraph.
In total, the BBC received 102 million requests for those live streams, as well as catch-up coverage and clips throughout the games. This was about three times the previous record of 38 million requests, which was set during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The London Olympics could go down as the most high-tech games to date, but yet traditional broadcast was still seeing people tune in. The BBC reported that more 90 percent of the population, some 51.9 million people, watched at least some of the coverage on TV. That’s a record in itself.