Live news streaming traffic during the Biden inauguration ceremony on January 20 peaked at 12 Tbps on the Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform. The peak, which occurred as now-President Biden was taking the oath of office just before 12 PM ET, is roughly 8x higher than what we typically see for mid-day traffic on a weekday. However, it's still less than the 18 Tbps we observed during 2020 election night on November 3.
It's likely that the enormous interest in the race, not to mention the ensuing drama as results came in, helped fuel election night traffic. Many of the questions surrounding the inauguration, meanwhile, were likely related to what might happen outside of the ceremony rather than the event itself. Also, the inauguration took place during normal working hours for much of the viewing audience, as opposed to election night, which is more of a prime-time and later event.
The Biden inauguration peaked higher than the 8.7 Tbps that the Trump inauguration reached in 2017. Similar to my observations from election night, higher traffic peaks are to be expected thanks to a number of factors, including intense interest, more people watching at home due to the pandemic, and more people streaming video in general at higher levels of picture quality.
No matter the size of the event, what's most important to Akamai is that we're able to help our customers successfully deliver their coverage to their respective audiences without any hiccups. As our live events team likes to say, "The best event is an uneventful one."
Harish Menon is Senior Director, Global Broadcast Operations and Customer Events, at Akamai. He leads the efforts to define strategy and provides executive leadership to Global Broadcast Operations and Customer Event teams at Akamai, and is responsible for flawless execution and management of content delivery across Akamai's top customers.