Akamai Diversity

The Akamai Blog

A bit of political controversy, and a lot of streaming

This morning, the pundits are busy debating whether last night's "Town Hall" will move the needle on the election, but one thing is certain: here in the US, it certainly moved a lot of bits. We delivered a peak of 3.6 Tbps across the ten broadcasters we worked with for the second Trump-Clinton match-up. Compare that to the 3.5 Tbps we peaked at during the Sochi games just two years ago. With dozens more broadcasters and a global audience, exceeding Sochi gives you an idea of just how much streaming has become part of the fabric of our media lives.

Still, last night was off the highs we saw two weeks ago, when Debate #1 delivered 4.4 Tbps (Rio games level). But then, second debates typically shrink in audience size. Voters, it seems, get most of what they need from the initial showdown. At 1.5 million peak concurrent users, the second debate was down about 16% from the 1.8 million who watched the first.

Looking back a week, the 37 million television viewers for Kaine-Pence debate was the smallest for a VP debate since Dick Cheney faced off against Joe Lieberman in 2000, which captured 29 million sets of eyeballs. By contrast, the widely anticipated Palin-Biden debate in 2008 drew 69.9 million viewers.

We delivered a peak of 1.6 Tbps across those 10 broadcasters we worked with for the Pence-Kaine match-up. 

But what does 1.6 Tbps mean? One fun one way to think about it: 1 Tbps averaged across 90 minutes equals 675,000 GB of data streamed. A single viewer would have to watch all 116 hours of the West Wing (commercials excluded) 2,909 times to match this. I love the West Wing, but that's a lot of Jed Bartlett!

There's a lot of debate about whether and how to prepare for debates. But unlike candidates for public office, our advice to broadcasters of live events is prepare, prepare, prepare. High profile events like these work best when you start weeks, even months in advance.

Want to keep current with the stats around streaming elections? Check out our Elections 2016 page. We'll update it after each major live event.