The Football Stress Test: Streaming Video, Networks and Telecommunications

Posted: July 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on The Football Stress Test: Streaming Video, Networks and Telecommunications

Football is inarguably the most popular sport in the world. That’s why the viewership numbers for the recent games in Brazil kept breaking records. The Brazil vs. Chile match, for example, drew 11.5 million viewers just in the UK. According to The Mirror, that’s more than half of the total share of people watching TV at that time. The Germany v. Brazil match attracted 10.77 million viewers. The final match between Germany and Argentina drew well over 26 million viewers in the US.

Given those extremes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that social media channels become frenzied with activity, either. Individual football matches are attracting millions of tweets – the US-Portugal match saw 10 million people engaging in 20 million interactions on Facebook. On Twitter, fans tweeted about eight million times. The opening match, between Brazil and Croatia, garnered 12 million tweets.

But that’s not only what communications service providers (CSPs) are feeling. The Wall Street Journal reports that about 3.5 million viewers tuned into the Germany – US and Portugal – Ghana matches … by using the Internet. A third of those users were in North America, and a quarter watched from mobile devices.

In a way, football games are becoming a great stress test for operators. The matches in Brazil are an interesting case study in how multichannel video streaming and constant social media activity can quickly create a capacity crunch, and might help show CSPs exactly how much their networks can handle and offer insight as to how they can optimise quality of service (QoS) and the quality of experience for end users.

The Football Stress Test

The past six weeks have shown us a glimpse of the future. CSPs know that the data needs of users are increasing dramatically, but not everyone is necessarily watching the same thing from the same device. Research from video advertising company Yume shows that many viewers are planning to watch matches from computers (33 percent), tablets (22 percent) and smartphones (11 percent).

We’ve discussed the growing need to cater to end users’ unique demands, as well as creatively monetise mobile data plans in new and more flexible ways—and the matches in Brazil are one of the strongest cases yet.

What if CSPs had policy and charging tools that allowed them to create and deploy a service plan that allows for unlimited streaming of a football match, based on a user’s country or team of choice and the time of the game? That might be better than letting users reach their data cap or just force them to watch on their TV. Many may be willing to pay a bit more to view the game on a mobile device – they just don’t want to purchase a whole month’s worth of data for it.

The more insight CSPs have into mobile device usage, the more personalised mobile data plans can become. The right solutions allow operators to monitor usage in real time, and when too much traffic is straining the network, they can adjust the access and QoS for specific services and specific users to balance capacity (according to one survey, 67 percent of IT admins are experiencing IT problems and network management issues that can be directly related to employees streaming the matches from their computers).

While it may be too late to deploy these kinds of strategies for the football matches this year, perhaps, during the next big football event, CSPs will be able to offer both consumers and enterprise customers alike a real-time, dynamic plan that meets their needs.


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