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Media Networking The Internet

BBC Delivered 2.8PB On Busiest Olympics Day, Reaching 700Gb/s As Wiggo Won Gold 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-for-gold-in-the-bandwidth-olympics dept.
Qedward writes "The BBC has revealed that on the busiest day of its London 2012 Olympics coverage it delivered 2.8 petabytes worth of content, peaking when Bradley Wiggins won gold, where it shifted 700Gb/s. It has also said that over a 24-hour period on the busiest Olympic days it had more traffic to bbc.co.uk than it did for the entire BBC coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2010 games. They revealed they had 106 million requests for BBC Olympic video content, which included 12 million requests for video on mobile devices across the whole of the Games. Mobile saw the most uptake at around 6pm when people had left the office but still wanted to keep informed of the latest action. Tablet usage, however, reached a peak at around 9pm, where people were using it as a second screen or as they continued to watch the games in bed."
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BBC Delivered 2.8PB On Busiest Olympics Day, Reaching 700Gb/s As Wiggo Won Gold

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  • by LoudMusic (199347) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @06:16PM (#40990479)

    This seems like an excellent use of torrent streaming. Even if the average feed was a few minutes behind it should be an improvement in data distribution.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rjr162 (69736)

      Pretty sure they used a CDN or two to handle the traffic, and its possible the CDN uses a hybrid mode which works basically like combining a regular CDN server network with a p2p torrent network

    • by madprof (4723)

      No one wants to get the result late though.

      • by symes (835608)

        Maybe - but define late... there's late in that everyone else knows the result and you might find out before you get to watch it. And then there's late, in that you are few seconds behind everyone else.

    • While using data forwarding within the CDN would probably be a win it doesn't work well for this sort of application where you need both high quality and fast distribution to the end clients.

      The problem is the client's upstream speed. Most end client systems are ADSL or configured as if they are in that the upstream bandwidth is a tenth or less of the downstream. Bittorrent works kind of like a (safe, self building) "bucket brigade" line where the seeder passes the data to the first client and it passes

    • Re:Torrent stream? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @04:58AM (#40994591)

      So, you're browsing the internet and watching the streaming video, as many people do. You inadvertantly find out the result of the 100 meters on facebook/twitter minutes before the race even starts on your video.

      No, people won't accept minutes of delay for "live" events. A few seconds, yes, so long as one isn't betting on the event. But a few seconds is useless for torrent type distribution.

    • This seems like an excellent use of torrent streaming.

      I doubt they would go for that since it would be hard to block it based on geographic location. One day the IOC might stop being so amazing hypocritical and practice what they preach ("bringing the world together through sport") by letting each nation's coverage be available worldwide instead of requiring divisive national firewalls...but given the money they make from it it seems doubtful. What was really annoying though was that, after wrestling through a CTV nightmare website of Silverlight a lot of the

  • by bobbutts (927504) <bobbutts@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @06:18PM (#40990493)
    Imagine if it wasn't restricted to a small fraction of internet users.
    • by madprof (4723)

      That's down to the broadcaster in your country. Fail to see why other broadcasters could not have done the same.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Because of this [boingboing.net]?
      • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @07:39PM (#40991355)

        In the U.S. NBC has carried the excluive contract from 1992 through 2020. Apparently the International Olympic Committee likes them. The company paid $1.18 billion for the exclusive U.S. television rights, and they sold $1.3 billion in advertising, so that's a profit (versus 2006/10 when they lost 0.2 billion each). Here are NBC's stats:

        - 32 million viewers during Primetime broadcast/reruns (highest level since the 1976 Olympics)
        - 73% of Americans followed on television. 17% online. 12% on social media sites.
        - "London's 219.4 million total viewers (you were a viewer if you watched at least six minutes) made NBC's Games the most-watched TV event ever, breaking Beijing's record of 215 million viewers."
        - NBC's digital stats after Week 1 of the Olympics (so the total pull is probably double)

        â34 Million Live Streams, Up 333% vs. Beijing
        â744 Million Page Views, Up 160 Million from Beijing
        â6.2 Million Devices Verified by Cable, Satellite and Telco Customers

        • by Sporkinum (655143)

          I dropped Cable this year, and NBC broadcast is the only network I can't get with antenna. Even with a nice HTPC TV setup, I didn't watch any Olympics as the only time I tried, the content was crap. It streamed OK for the 15 minutes I looked at it though. Adblock took care of the ads, so all I saw during commercials was this. http://i.imgur.com/n9o95.jpg [imgur.com]

        • The company paid $1.18 billion for the exclusive U.S. television rights, and they sold $1.3 billion in advertising, so that's a profit

          Only if they had less then $0.12 billion in other expenses...

        • by madprof (4723)

          There are some things missing from here, sadly, and US customers should demand these next time:

          - live streaming coverage of every sport (if the UK can have it then why can't the US?)
          - live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies UNCUT

          Rio is a friendlier time zone so it should be easier. Let's see what happens.

          • NBC tape-delayed the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, which is on Pacific Time. Not sure if it was for the entire USA, but the West Coast definitely got a TD'ed opening ceremonies.

            I was watching the closing ceremonies live in Canada, could even choose between over half a dozen stations (several English and French which covered different sports during the actual Games, and even got one with Chinese and Mandarin narrators). I switched to an NBC affiliate during a commercial break and it was showing a volleyball final

    • by AGMW (594303) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @06:27PM (#40990599) Homepage
      I understand there was big uptake on VPN services from the US to get around the poor coverage so folks could get the BBC if they wanted, though I don't see why it couldn't be offered as a paid service to offset our licence fee.

      I'd have to say the coverage by the beeb was excellent and well worth the fee, and I'm not a sports fan!

      • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@@@p10link...net> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @06:35PM (#40990687) Homepage

        though I don't see why it couldn't be offered as a paid service to offset our licence fee.

        Trouble is in a lot of cases the BBC can't legally do that either because they bought UK only rights to the content in question from the content owners or for content they created themselves they have sold exclusive country specific rights to foreign broadcasters.

        So any subscription based iPlayer for foreigners would end up with only a fraction of the content the UK iPlayer gets.

        Also afaict the BBC gets traffic to most UK ISPs virtually free due to peering agreements whereas for foreigners they would have to pay transit fees. The prices for foreigners would have to be high enough to reflect this.

        • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

          You - for subject definitions of "you" - can peer with them at AMS-IX and DE-CIX as well.

      • by madprof (4723)

        This is the reason, I think, why they let F1 go almost wholesale to Sky. Right decision. And the streaming held up very well.

        • Right decision for who? Certainly not the British public. Uninterrupted free broadcast from the BBC vs huge subscriptions from Sky.

          • by madprof (4723)

            We still get F1 on the radio, although it is not the same.
            Had they not saved money then we'd be faced with worse Olympics coverage, simply. And as those are a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get it right.

      • by iserlohn (49556) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @07:07PM (#40991041) Homepage

        Don't forget about the 24 *extra* HD channels that the BBC put on just for the Olympics. Was able to drop into any one of the Olympic events at any time through the red button, or just by navigating to the correct channel on my Freesat box. It really did blow my mind. Above all - no ads! The TV license is normally pretty good value for money, but the Olympic coverage was a cut above. Really feel for those that had to endure NBC.

        • by chrb (1083577) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @07:27PM (#40991239)
          The BBC also recorded some of the events in Super Hi Vision [bbc.co.uk] Engadget has a review: [engadget.com] "while watching the swimming event and cut-down highlights of the opening ceremony, there were moments when we could almost have believed we were looking not at a projected image, but rather through a window direct onto the Olympic Stadium or Aquatics Center itself."
      • by fa2k (881632)

        I wonder if it's really illegal to use VPNs, though. At no point does one have to agree to a license or even claim to be from a specific country. It's all done automatically. Maybe it's moot if they can't prosecute you in a different country.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I wonder if it's really illegal to use VPNs, though. At no point does one have to agree to a license or even claim to be from a specific country.

          The door doesn't need to be locked for you to be trespassing. The relevant question is whether it was reasonable for you to infer you did not have authorization to access that server or content. If you used a proxy for the purpose of circumventing their restrictions, then you were trespassing.

          As for the attitude of "they can't catch me where I'm hiding"...that's

        • by F.Ultra (1673484)
          It's not illegal for you to recieve the material, it's illegal for the broadcaster to deliver it to you (or strictly speaking not illegal but breach of contract/copyright infringement). And possibly (but I'm not sure this have ever been tested in court) for the VPN provider to give you the possibility.
          • That depends on the court's interpretation. They could plausibly argue that the BBC was delivering it you your VPN host within the UK (legal and within contract) and you were then copying it to a remote location (violating copyright law).
            • by F.Ultra (1673484)
              I hardly see how a court could come up with such an idea. Copyright does only protect reproduction of the material so you have to distribute it to others in order to infringe. I.e you are allowed within the law to paint a perfect copy of a Picasso and hang it in your house. But you are not allowed to sell it or put it into public display.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm a cycling fan in the US and watched those events via someone in the UK proxying the BBC stream. People do this for pretty much all European cycling events and blog sites like cyclingfans.com maintain links to active proxies. I could have VPN'd but just clicking a link was easier wherever I happened to be.

        No doubt there were a lot of cycling viewers outside the UK, at least for the road race. Wiggins was not a big fan favorite until this year and he won over quite a lot of people who'd previously conside

  • Multicast (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The BBC used to make its streams available by multicast. If everyone used multicast then they could have streamed the Olympics with not much more than a Japanese home Internet connection.

    • Re:Multicast (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i sh.org> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @06:28PM (#40990613)

      Unfortunately, multicast basically doesn't work on the current internet, at least not for most users, because most networks don't properly forward it. The MBONE [savetz.com], a 1990s overlay/tunnelled network, was probably the closest it's ever gotten to general deployment outside specific controlled contexts. 2001's RFC 3170 [ietf.org] on deployment difficulties is largely still accurate, with the exception of its first sentence, "IP Multicast will play a prominent role on the Internet in the coming years."

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        IPv6 supports multicast correctly. I remember reading about IP-TV multicast testing that was going on from Europe to Australia over open internet.
        • by Trepidity (597)

          True, I should've said in IPv4. If the IPv6 transition really does happen to the point where most end-users can do IPv6 transport end-to-end, multicast should be a nice side benefit, assuming nobody introduces a new bone-headed way of screwing it up.

    • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

      They still multicast content, they were multicasting all the extra Olympic channels as well. You just have to be attached to the internet via a provider that's actually on MBONE - one of my house mates was watching it on multicast at work (working at a Uni has its perks).

  • I'm curious if NBC saw a traffic spike (and how big of one) when they stopped broadcasting the closing ceremony live and switched to streaming it while they switched to whatever the sitcom was.
    • I'm curious if NBC saw a traffic spike (and how big of one) when they stopped broadcasting the closing ceremony live and switched to streaming it while they switched to whatever the sitcom was.

      I haven't had the telly on, but based on experience I'd be astonished if NBC isn't continuing to "cover" the Olympics this week, in hopes of milking a few more nickles out of it.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        They are covering the Olympics. The paralympics on their NBC Universal Channel (which was free over-the-air during the 2008 and 10 Olympics, but once Comcast bought NBC that ended).

        BTW we'll be able to watch the 2016 games in real-time. Brazil is on Atlantic time, just one hour ahead of the zone most Americans live.

        Here are NBC's stats:
        - 32 million viewers during primetime broadcast (highest level since the 1976 Olympics)
        - The company paid $1.18 billion for the exclusive U.S. television rights
        - They sold

        • by Anonymous Coward

          No you won't. A lot of the sports events are held during the day. Your NBC will tape-delay that to prime time. Enjoy retarded ad-driven broadcasters...

          see: Vancouver Olympics coverage

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympics_on_NBC#Tape_delay

          "Despite the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver, three hours behind New York, and in all of their previous Olympic coverages, NBC has delayed the broadcast of higher-profile events held during the day to air in prime time. As a result, almost none of the popular a

        • by Bigby (659157)

          You aren't considering expenses in your profit number.

        • by dave420 (699308)
          And all of their coverage is shit. What's your point?
  • I really REALLY want to see the size of their routing/switching equipment, let alone racks of gear for processing/encoding/streaming. Hitting 700gigs/sec is PRETTY killer.
    • by Bert64 (520050)

      It will just be regular cisco kit like 6500 series switches...
      They won't have pushed 700gb through a single device, the bbc has peering with most of the major isps in the uk and the 700gb figure will be combined across a large number of peering and transit links.

      • I could be wrong but I'd expect to see a relatively small number of big routers (big enough to deal with full internet routing tables) at the network edge and then a larger number or switches to connect the content servers to the routers and then an even larger number of content servers.

        I'd also expect to see collocated content servers in some cases. Particularly for a rare spike like the london olympics.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I had access to about 10 dedicated HD channels on my satellite package here in the middle east. Commercial free, with most announcers either Canadian or British ( the Abu dhabi channels were in Arabic), all from the olympic broadcasting feed. There was also an Olympic news channel and a constant stream of official Olympic documentaries. On ipad & computers there was a further 12 digital streaming channels available, but i could get that working due to low bandwidth. Watching it all was the next best th

  • Surely only a tiny fraction of people would be in bed by 9pm, so I can't see that explaining a spike in tablet use mid-evening. My guess is that the main TV was being used to watch normal programs and the iPads (lets face it, the tablets were almost certainly ipads) were being used to follow the olympics out of the corner of the TV watcher's eye.
    • by isorox (205688)

      Surely only a tiny fraction of people would be in bed by 9pm, so I can't see that explaining a spike in tablet use mid-evening.

      My guess is that the main TV was being used to watch normal programs and the iPads (lets face it, the tablets were almost certainly ipads) were being used to follow the olympics out of the corner of the TV watcher's eye.

      There wasn't much normal TV

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      What normal stuff was on TV in the UK during the olympics?

      Everyone I know was glued to it - to the point of watching events by mobile streaming of iPlayer on the bus or during lunch breaks. Offices were streaming it over the web. Every lab on my floor had one machine with the main feed running, and everyone was talking about it.

      No one in the UK was "watching it out the corner of their eye" - at least in my experience, and clearly in the experience of the broadcaster providing the coverage.

  • NBC's online streaming felt like it peaked at 700kbps.
    • by antdude (79039)

      I wonder how much bandwidth NBC used. Its gated wall for requiring satellite and cable TV services probably kept it down. :(

    • by afidel (530433)

      Huh? The 720p feeds were around 6.5Mbps. I did have to use FF as the builtin flash plugin for Chrome didn't want to use hardware acceleration for some reason so it was jumpy as all get out, the Adobe plugin used through FF was as smooth as you can expect from a live event (the archived footage was as smooth as any other stream HD content IME).

  • 2.8PB? What's the big deal? That's only about 3% of the storage capacity of Lt. Commander Data's 'brain'... And he searches that in only a couple seconds..
  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @03:57AM (#40994365)

    What a waste of bandwidth!

    A sad day for the clever minds who invented multicast so you don't need to care about 700Gb/s

  • As a primetime NBC Olympics watcher, I was disappointed they didn't show more diving in primetime.

    Seriously though, if you work all day, then come home to watch some Olympics in the evening, you'd think the only competitions there are, are some Gymnastics, Swiming, Diving, and Volleyball with a few highlights from track. You'd never know of the numerous other events. NBC coverage was so bad that they would analyze and show every person's dive, replay slowmo with computer analysis, watch them get in the
  • A BBC engineer gave an interesting talk [phpconference.co.uk] about their web platform at the PHP UK Conference 2012: "Monitoring your back end for speed and profit [youtu.be]"

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