ISPs Report Record Video Traffic During Inauguration

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-01-20

ISPs Report Record Video Traffic During Inauguration

News organizations, content delivery networks and ISPs reported record streaming video viewership Jan. 20 following the television broadcast and subsequent Webcasting of the inauguration of Sen. Barack Obama as the new president of the United States. shattered its old record of 5.3 million live video streams-set on election night, Nov. 4, 2008-before the actual swearing-in ceremony even took place.

It served up about 8 million by 10 a.m., 14 million by 11:45 a.m. and 18.8 million by 1 p.m., 45 minutes after the recitation of the oath of office. The final 12-hour total was 25 million video streams served between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., CNN spokesperson Jennifer Martin told eWEEK.

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Akamai, a CDN for about 2,800 enterprise customers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Viacom Web sites, reported it delivered a peak of about 7 million active simultaneous streams at approximately 12:15 p.m. ET on Jan. 20.

Most of those streams were live, Jeff Young, Akamai's director of corporate communications, told eWEEK. It was the highest number of simultaneous streams the CDN has ever recorded, Young said.

A graphical representation of the day's Internet news traffic running in Akamai data centers can be found here.

On the evening of Nov. 4, 2008, following the election of Obama to the presidency, Akamai recorded a record 8.57 million visitors per minute to its sites. Never before had the CDN recorded as many as 7 million video streams at one time, the company said.

"We were getting millions of people logging in and staying logged in to watch the streaming video," Young said. "That's quite a different audience from that of people coming in and out of the site, looking for updates and checking out different categories, as they did on Election Night."

12 million Web requests per second

Akamai also said its servers handled more than 12 million requests per second at the peak of the demand, which was between 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. ET.

Jan. 20 also was a single-day peak on the Akamai EdgePlatform for concurrent live streams utilizing Adobe Flash video, with more than 800G bps of streaming Flash video served up. Total traffic on the Akamai network surpassed a rate of more than 2T bps at approximately 12:15 p.m. ET. EdgePlatform is Akamai's front-line Web-serving software package.

"To our knowledge, there were no major technical issues today. It [Internet service] is going to vary a bit from customer to customer, depending upon the economics of each agreement," Young said. "There may have been some reports of latency, but that can depend on a lot of factors."

Web Use Drops During Swearing-in Ceremony

Young said according to Akamai traffic statistics there was a marked drop in the company's retail Web traffic right at noon, when the new president took office. Akamai's online retail customers include Best Buy, among many others.

"It looks like there's a dip of about 200,000 users exactly at the time the new president was being sworn in," Young said. "It is rare to be able to quantify something like that." A glance at the Akamai graphic illustrates the point. had 792 photos posted in a slide show 1 hour after Obama's swearing-in ceremony. said its television and Internet coverage reached 240 countries and an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide.

TV ratings will be high

TV network ratings weren't yet available late in the afternoon of Jan. 20, CNN's Martin told eWEEK. CNN is available to more than 2 billion people through 24 branded networks, Martin said. had generated more than 160 million page views as of 6 p.m. ET Jan. 20.

Web analytics provider Omniture SiteCatalyst reported that Live served 25 million live video streams globally from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., shattering its all-time total daily streaming record set on Election Day with 5.3 million live streams.

"We built capacity for Live to handle well above and beyond what was, to our knowledge, the most viewed live video event in Internet history," Martin told eWEEK. "Anticipating that this would be a high-traffic event concentrated in time, we arranged for a 'Waiting Room' in order to queue people wanting to view [in order received] as capacity became available without degrading the experience for Live's users active sessions.

"Judging from Live's experience, the Internet at large performed pretty well at what's likely to prove a significant new level of video throughput: another coming-of-age event for streaming video online."

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