Akamai Diversity

The Akamai UK Blog

Summer of Sport Sees Online Video Streaming Sprinting Ahead

The 2016 games have been an incredible success - Akamai delivered more video data for Rio than it did for the 2014 World Cup, making this summer's games the largest live sporting event that Akamai has helped deliver. On day three of Rio, Akamai had already exceeded the total amount of video streaming data that it delivered for all 17 days of London in 2012. 

It's already been an incredible summer of sport online, with the Super Bowl and European football competition.  Whilst the European football broke all sorts of sports streaming records including audience figures and a new traffic peak of 7.26 terabits per second (Tbps) on the Akamai network, the former was streamed live in the US by CBS to 3.96 million unique viewers, who watched for an average of 101 minutes each, according to official figures.  Collectively, this is all the evidence needed to show how our video consumption habits are changing.

Super Bowl Success!


The reason the Super Bowl attracted such high viewing figures for a single sports event was because it's easier than ever for the game to be streamed onto larger TV screens, taking it directly into viewers' living rooms. Streaming device sales have grown significantly in the last 12 months complementing the already high percentage of smart TV's in the market. This means TV's are now connected and capable of receiving high quality video streams over the internet. In 2016, Akamai delivered a major global sporting event live in 4k, online, providing an online streaming experience that surpassed what most fans can receive through linear TV technology. 

Whilst we look forward with a great deal of optimism, the idiosyncrasies of streaming high quality live video at scale continue to be a challenge. Viewers have no tolerance for interruptions or poor quality video streaming, meaning brands who want to build an audience, must ensure that video starts and plays without fail with no buffering. 

At Akamai our efforts are focused on developing client based technology to provide new capabilities such as Ingest Acceleration & Media Acceleration, predictive prepositioning of content on devices, multicast technology for delivery to big audiences and peer-assisted delivery to supplement video streaming performance. We also announced the launch of our new Broadcast Operations Control Centre that provides customers with a complete view of their live workflow and user experiences.

Why is this necessary? Because video streaming traffic online is going through exponential growth and unless we address the issues of today, we will not be able to service the requirements of tomorrow. To put this in context, at the 2012 London games, we saw traffic peak at around 1 Tbps. With the massive growth we are seeing in video streaming on the Akamai Intelligent Platform, we predict that traffic over our platform could easily exceed 340 Tbps by 2020. 

This is more than just a challenge, or an opportunity, depending on your viewpoint. This is a seismic shift in how the online world is influencing our enjoyment of sport and other forms of video entertainment. The onus falls squarely on the shoulders of CDNs to ensure that rights distributors can manage live workflows easily and that viewers are delighted with their experience first time, every time.

You can view all of the stats from the 2016 games on the Akamai microsite, which includes online streaming data from across the Akamai Intelligent Platform for individual events.