|In reflecting on March Madness, it’s clear that trends from across the US show that the use of Internet streaming (especially with the iPad) dropped significantly during the the course of the games. This is not a surprise, as early games are often harder to find on TV because so many are played simultaneously.Below is an excerpt from a Report Studio analysis from one small MSO site that shows the first weekend of the event had more than three times the second and third weekend of March Madness:
For this operator, all told, 5% of their subscriber base watched some part of the event online, but less than .5% were watching at any one time on the network.
A large service provider reported very similar percentage results for the final game (as reported by Report Studio):
The conclusion to draw from the March Madness and the Super Bowl Streaming events so far seems to be that the harder the content is to access on TV (or the novelty of the event), the more likely it is that consumers will choose the small screen over the large screen. If it’s easy to see on TV, audiences, it appears, will still watch it there.
This is a topic that I will explore more in my next blog, which takes a look at what a video service is in relationship to devices; I think the definition for consumers of what a video service is has dramatically shifted over the past year.
|I was a bit disappointed in the Super Bowl streaming last night, and from some preliminary results from our customers, it looks as if many others were as well. A sampling of customers looked at low participation: A DSL operator had less than .5% of their subscribers watching, and multiple MSOs had almost 2% participation – which is lower than I expected for the event. Not a big surprise, but Facebook and Twitter were also very active during the game time (although Twitter has reported that most of the activity was about the commercials and the halftime show and not the game!). There was a noticeable dip of about 33% in other forms of streaming video during the game (Netflix, YouTube, etc), as people stopped watching streaming movies and watched the game (although at Halftime YouTube spiked up). Other types of vide streaming picked up during the game, but dropped back to kickoff levels at the end of the game as even marginally interested parties checked in to see the exciting conclusion to the game. There was no real impact in Canada, and some spotty watching from around the world, but clearly this event was US-centric.
I personally watched both on my iPad and my Mac, and I can see why the performance was spotty. The biggest problem that I saw was that the stream was at least one play behind live action, and although I understand the reason for this, it meant that the stream was really only appropriate as a replacement, and not a supplement to the game, which is how NBC was trying to position the feed. The stream was pristine and beautiful on my iPad, with the bandwidth as shown below and the Quality of Experience metrics showing minimal packet loss on the network (to be fair, I am on Fiber to the Home)…(See image 1a & 1b)
My feed on my Mac was not as well done, with numerous cut-outs, the stream was of poor quality (about 500-700kbps), and was almost two plays behind the game when it was active. Although I did not lose many packets, the stream was not very satisfying. The only cool thing about the stream was that you could shift camera angles, and I used that trick a few times to try and sync the stream back up. (See image 2)The Mac Stream and the iPad stream were coming from different servers, and based on a snapshot from a few customer networks, this may explain some of the issues. Below is a snapshot of the different user agents used to watch the game at one US MSO, with about 1.5% participation. The vast majority were Windows-based, but with a little bit of Mac thrown in (reflecting the larger PC market share).
There were some interesting techniques used by NBC to stream the Super Bowl. They were using streaming playlists to insert the ads into the streams, and rather than being a single connection, I saw connections coming up and down from different servers as the content sources moved around on my live feed. There were even a few new tricks that could be seen in the properties of the http streams using our LiveView application, but I wouldn’t want to spill the beans for NBC.
Although the game was not quite what I was hoping for, the quality of the iPad stream was beautiful, and I hope that more events (Olympics, World cup) follow this model, as it is a significant enhancement and alternative to the TV broadcast. The Super Bowl was watched by 110M people – the World Cup was watch by over 700M worldwide – so that streaming event would be a bit more stressful worldwide. I expect to see more of this going forward, and as consumers get accustomed to the extras they receive online, events like this will put much more stress on operators.
Here are some Report Studio reports from some anonymized customer networks that our customers used to analyze the impact that the Super Bowl had on their networks.