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Big Game Meets Big Expectations

NBC Sports Digital's live stream of the Super Bowl last Sunday didn't disappoint; records were broken on the field and online. Tom Brady set Super Bowl records for most completions in a game and most career touchdown passes. Meanwhile, NBC Sports Live Extra averaged a Super Bowl record-breaking 800,000 viewers per minute and peak of 1.3 million concurrent users across desktops and tablets.
With all those successes, however, I found myself questioning another topic. No, it's not the highly questionable call to pass on second down versus shifting fully into beast mode during Sunday's big game. Rather, I wondered if broadband media achieved the same level of operational robustness and predictability.

The short answer is yes.

Working with NBC Sports Digital, this year we planned for active and passive streaming scenarios for the online linear content, a practice already expected in broadcast TV. Internet-based processes including streaming video have struggled to make the claim that disaster recovery is needed and generally the expectation is that some technology element will break.

This year we thought differently. We thought more maturely. We thought about increased expectations. And all that thinking resulted in a game plan that resulted in the technology winning.

As the lines between traditional and online broadcasting blur, the future will continue to challenge us with higher bit rate streams, 4K content and larger audiences. However, if we continue to hold online content distribution to the standard expected with TV we will undoubtedly see more records fall.

John Bishop is Vice President & CTO of Akamai's Media Business Unit.