Record breaking start to the Olympics for BBC Online

Head of Product

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Before the Olympic Games began, the BBC promised to deliver up to 24 simultaneous live streams of coverage to the biggest audience the Sport website has ever seen.

And my team managed that within the first 48 hours of live sporting action.

As the Head of Product for BBC Sport, it's been a fantastic weekend for me and my team watching the Games unfold. Just after 3pm on Saturday afternoon we had all our encoders in action playing 24 live video streams of sporting action across desktop, mobile tablet, connected TVs and Red Button.

And Sunday was the busiest day ever on the BBC Sport site - with 6.1 million unique browsers in the UK and 8.3 million worldwide.

The first weekend of the Olympics online, in stats:

  • Saturday - 7.8m global browsers for (5.6m UK browsers) - a global record
  • Sunday - 8.3m global browsers for (6.1m UK browsers) - a global and UK record
  • 1.15m downloads for the BBC Sport Olympics app, with 55% of browsers coming from non-desktop devices on Saturday
  • 1.7m requests for the Olympics opening ceremony in BBC iPlayer, with 925k on Saturday alone - a record for a single day
  • The James Bond Escorts The Queen to the London 2012 Olympic Games clip has been viewed 640k times on the BBC's YouTube channel.

We have been testing the infrastructure and the sites we have built for the games for months using test data and streams and artificial traffic and we were really confident it would work.

But even so it's nerve wracking turning it all on and showing it to vast numbers of real users - so we are thrilled that it's all working so well.

And we've been gratified to see such positive feedback, on social networks and via email, about the things we have built.

More than 1.15 million people have now downloaded BBC Sport's Olympics app for the UK, and we are really pleased that people are staying in touch with the action via the phones while out and about like Mark Ames:

For watching the bits of the Olympic road race happening where you aren't, I heartily recommend the BBC Olympic app: …

-- ibikelondon blog (@markbikeslondon) 3:18 AM - 25 Jul 2012

The reaction to our new interactive video player has been really positive.

All our live and on demand video sessions are split into "chapters" to make it really easy to find the bit you're interested in. That feature was used more than 2.5 million times on Saturday, including by Rich ‏@richardarnatt:

The BBC interactive Olympics coverage is incredible! Jaw dropped at how easy it is to jump straight to *any* event in moments.

-- Rich (@richardarnatt) 12:11 PM - July 28, 2012

Our favourites feature on the desktop version of the site is also being exercised with more than a million interactions a day.

Now people are back at work the graphs are going skywards with hundreds of thousands of people sneaking a look at our coverage in the office, like Simon Warren:

We've managed to hook up two spare monitors in the office so far this morning, 22 more and we can stream all the bbc's live content.

-- Simon Warren (@100Climbs) 2:55 AM - 30 Jul 2012

At around 3pm today, we will have 24 live streams running again and we're hopeful today's going to be another record-breaking day. I'll keep you up to date with the stats as we get them this week.

Cait O'Riordan is the Head of Product, BBC Sport and London 2012

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