BBC highlights online demand for the London 2012 Olympics

© Rob Bouwman -

Data released by the BBC following two weeks of Olympics coverage highlights the important role played by online services in the public's consumption of sports media.

Between 28 July and 11 August, over 34 million unique users accessed the BBC Olympics section of BBC Online. On the busiest single day, the corporation delivered 2.8 petabytes (one quadrillion bytes) of data.

The peak traffic moment occurred when Bradley Wiggins won gold on 1 August in the men's time trial and saw the BBC shift 700 Gb/s.

The most requested live streams were for the Tennis Singles finals, racking up 820,000 requests.

Cait O'Riordan, head of product at BBC Sport and London 2012, called London 2012 "the first truly digital Olympics."

"[The] peak audiences for Team GB's medal moments were bigger than anything we've ever seen. Over a 24 hour period on the busiest Olympic days, Olympic traffic to exceeded that for the entire BBC coverage of FIFA World Cup 2010 games," O'Riordan said in a blog post.

"Offering everything isn't enough in the age of multiple devices," she added. "Our further ambition was to ensure audiences could access our coverage wherever they were, and whenever they wanted it."

Coverage of the Games was available from the BBC via standard computer, mobile phone, tablet and internet connected TV. Data from the corporation also shows how device usage varied throughout the day, with PC usage peaking at lunchtime on weekdays and during mid-afternoon peak Team GB moments. Mobile devices take over at approximately 6.00pm, coinciding with people leaving the office. Tablets took over in the mid-to-late evening, with their usage peaking at around 9.00pm.

"We invested in delivering the first truly digital Olympics to ensure that our audience had a fantastic experience during the two weeks of the games," said O'Riordan.

"But we also wanted to ensure that the BBC was in the best position to continue to deliver great experiences for years to come. The infrastructure and video delivery systems we have put in for the games will be used for future coverage for both BBC Sport and the rest of the BBC."

"We also hope to leave a lasting legacy in terms of audiences to BBC online. Over the course of the Olympics we attracted huge numbers of new users to our BBC Sport interactive services and we hope that having enjoyed our digital video coverage they will be back for other events the BBC cover in the future."

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.