The first few days of the Olympics are behind us now, and some of the results are already surprising. We are monitoring a large number of our customer networks (mainly in Europe and North America), and we are seeing some trends that we expected and some that we did not.

1. A UK mobile operator that we are monitoring is seeing a decline of 18% in mobile BBC iPlayer traffic on their network for Friday and an increase of 7%on Saturday from normal activity rates. This indicates that the Opening Ceremonies were primarily viewed on fixed or broadcast networks, but people started to watch events online on Saturday. As the Games go on, we expect this traffic to dramatically increase, especially on Monday, when people return to work and do not have easy access to their broadcast TV. We also expect Social Networking to increase over mobile networks as well, we will report on that over the next week.

2. Social Networking traffic (mainly Facebook and Twitter) is up 25% in North America over normal weekend levels with the exact same number of users and connections, indicating that more frequent postings and uploads are driving more activity from the same users. This is measured across a number of fixed broadband networks (both cable and DSL). Twitter has recognized the importance of the event, and has created a dedicated twitter page (https://twitter.com/hashtag/olympics). We are tracking usage to see if specific events are generating spikes in usage on our networks, and we expect that this will be the case as some of the more popular events occur over the next weeks (Michael Phelps chase for more gold, women’s gymnastics, men’s basketball, and Track and Field).

3. YouTube streaming traffic is at normal levels. The IOC has been monitoring YouTube for copyright violations, and is being very aggressive in going after any unauthorized videos (as reported by Tech Crunch): http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/28/ioc-starts-to-delete-unauthorized-video-of-olympics-on-youtube/, which is likely depressing the overall numbers as the Games get started. The reason for this crackdown is that NBC and the IOC have put a great deal of effort into their own streaming efforts (detailed at http://gigaom.com/video/olympics-live-streaming-youtube-nbc/), and are ensuring that they can monetize their investment (NBC’s is reported to be $1.18B). The Olympics channel is well done, and is getting significant traffic, but YouTube levels are below what you would expect to see if people were uploading and sharing their own takes and or tributes to the Games.

4. For the American audience, the nbc.com streaming is very active, with an average of 2% of subscribers streaming on Friday and Saturday. As usual, the iPad video presentation is gorgeous, and the interface (Image 1a) is very well done from NBC. Any event can be watched in real time, and this allows users to not have to hunt through the channels for specific events. The iPad version of the video is streaming at consistent rates of ~10Mbps on my FTTH connection (Image 1b), reflecting great planning by both NBC and YouTube, with no buffering seen throughout the weekend. In a change, the PC/Mac videos are also of great quality (past live events have not fared well with these streams), although the bandwidth used is about half (due to the default resolution settings).

5. There has been minimal activity on file sharing sites, with the Opening Ceremony being only the 202nd most popular file on a leading torrent site indexer (reflecting the widespread availability of streaming and broadcast video) on Saturday and early Sunday. This can be seen for now as validation that if you make content available via streaming, you will see less piracy occurring. Overall file sharing is not changed across the globe, but the Olympics has not been a focus yet. This is an area of interest to content providers and network operators world-wide, and we will monitor this to see if this changes as the Games continue.

We will be watching the Games throughout the event, and will keep you up to date on the interesting tidbits that fall out of our Analytics. Sunday is likely to be an active day, and mobile broadband will become very interesting as the work week starts.

Image 1a: NBC’s iPad Application

Image 1b: LiveView Streaming Olympics Video