Olympics website performance: Week 1

As previously noted, Apica is monitoring the website performance of London2012.com and other sites reporting on and streaming the 2012 Olympic Games. So far, reports indicate that website traffic is already surpassing that of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On Aug. 2 AdWeek reported that 28 million people visited NBCOlympics.com in the days following the Opening Ceremony. That’s an 8 percent increase compared to the first week of competition four years ago.

Video streaming is up as well. By the sixth day of competition NBC had served up 64 million video streams. A few days later, on Aug. 7, that number had climbed to over 102.6 million. In comparison, 75.5 million video streams were served during the entire Beijing Olympics.

Websites across the pond are just as busy. Last week, BBC’s website broke traffic records on almost a daily basis. On Saturday July 28, it attracted 7.8 million viewers, only to be beat out by 8.3 million viewers on Sunday, July 29. That record was then eclipsed on Monday, July 20, when the site was viewed by 9.7 million viewers worldwide.

The question is, how are these sites handling the traffic? The answer: For the most part, pretty well.

The chart to the right shows the availability and average response times of 11 Olympics-related sites during the first week of the games. On average, availability has been consistent-in most cases, over 99 percent. Though average response times for the sites aren’t exactly what you would call fast. A three second wait time is generally the standard for labeling a website as fast. Only one site in our monitors, YouTube’s London2012 page, is below that threshold. This site also had 100 percent availability during Week 1, making it one of the games’ top performers thus far.

This is especially true for NBCOlympics.com. During the first week of the games, response times escalated to almost 18 seconds, with just 80.12 percent availability. Most of the errors recorded have been of the “waiting for response” variety, meaning that the system can’t handle the amount of load being placed on it. When faced with such pressure, the site slows and even times out, forcing viewers to wait for content.

The graph below the performance of NBCOlympics.com from our West Coast monitoring location. You can see the spikes in response time as well as the fatal errors that impacted availability. The random nature of these spikes could be linked to popular events such as Olympic finals.

BBC is having better luck managing its record traffic. During the first week of the games, the general BBC homepage and the Olympics-dedicated site were available more than 99 percent of the time. Average response time for BBC.co.uk was 3.69 seconds. Although, response times for the BBC Olympics page were more than two and a half times that, at 9.68 seconds. (We should note that the monitoring for all of these sites has taken place in our U.S.-based locations, which could impact the results.)

We compared the website performance of the two sites in the graph below. The performance of the BBC Olympics page is indicated by the more steady, blue line across the bottom; the yellow line represents the performance of the NBC Olympics page, which has shown greater fluctuation in response time during peak periods. Note that the times measured by this graph are in milliseconds (1 millisecond = 0.001 seconds).

Check back next week for our final look at Olympic website performance.