As the Sochi winter games draw to a close, I'd like to share a live streaming experience I had Sunday, which truly puts the spirit of the games into perspective for me.
My 12-year-old daughter, Stephanie, is a ski racer with the Jay Peak Ski Club in Vermont, USA. Jay Peak is much closer to Montreal than to my residence near Boston, so I have a number of Canadian friends in the club. Sunday morning, my daughter had a race at Burke Mountain, VT, home of Burke Mountain Academy, where American skier Mikaela Schiffrin graduated this past year. My daughter and I have been tracking Mikaela's Olympic progress with great interest, and we watched Mikaela's gold medal slalom run live. And thanks to NBC's terrific iOS applications, we have watched her amazing second run recovery on demand, providing me with a great teachable moment about practice and never giving up. But I digress.
While in the Burke ski lodge preparing their children for the race, my Canadian friends were unfortunately missing the men's hockey gold medal final between Canada and Sweden. Since the game was being played on Sunday morning here in Vermont, the bar with the TV was not yet open. And since the race was in the U.S., rights restrictions prevented my friends from streaming the game through their Canadian provider. As their inability to enjoy their national sport's ultimate contest became apparent, I saw a real opportunity to strengthen international relations. I pulled out my iPad, connected it to Burke Mountain's complimentary WiFi, started up my NBC Live Extra app, and played the live stream. Suddenly, my Canadian friends began swarming around my iPad, asking, "Is that really live?" and complementing the high quality that we were getting in a ski lodge with a few hundred people sharing WiFi in rural upstate Vermont. One even said, "It looks like TV!" Of course, I let them know that Akamai played a big role in helping NBC to deliver the experience; and they were truly grateful. Luckily the game finished with a Canadian victory before the ski race began, precluding any need for tough choices.
As we counted down the final seconds, Paul from Montreal started clapping. No shouts, or hollers. Just a few claps ... followed by an, "I'm sorry," for creating a spectacle of himself. I love his Canadian perspective. Needless to say, they were all very happy, and I was happy to have helped deliver that special moment for them.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to strengthen my German international relations. Joachim Hengge, Akamai's winter games program manager, did a fantastic job keeping our teams focused 24/7 to ensure that the quality was solid for our 25+ customers, while also providing the statistics that have allowed us to understand the scale of the event each day. Of course, he also pointed out when Germany was leading in the medal count. But from my perspective, we were all winning as we delivered the quality at scale that these games required.
Here are some of the statistics shared by Joachim:
- Peak event traffic rate: 3.5 Trillion bits per second (Tbps), during the U.S. vs. Canada Men's Hockey Semifinal. That rate is four times higher than our platform peak during Usain Bolt's 100m dash in 2012's summer games. 4X in less than two years!
- The Gold Medal Hockey Final that we were watching in the ski lodge had a traffic rate of 1.55 Tbps, the fifth-highest daily peak of the games.
- The total traffic delivered by the Akamai Intelligent Platform for these 2014 winter games was more than 70% higher than for the 2012 summer games.
- NBC announced several streaming records, including the more than 2.1 million unique users who watched the U.S./Canada Men's Hockey Semifinal, which it said were the most unique users ever for an NBC Sports Digital stream.
I'd like to thank our technology partners and customers for working with us to make the 2014 winter games one of the most successful, record-breaking online streaming events in Akamai's history. I would also like to thank the Akamai global support teams and other Akamaites worldwide who kept an event of this magnitude running smoothly 24/7 over the entire two weeks. And a special mention goes to our security teams who monitored the ever-present malicious attacks and kept them at bay. Thank you all for helping move my international relations Faster Forward.