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Olympics: Numbers Update

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John O' Donovan | 11:57 UK time, Thursday, 11 September 2008

I promised you an update on numbers after the Olympics and here it is. The statistics are endless and with the analytics tools at my disposal I could prove that I am the rightful King of Sheba, so I'll just give a summary of some key messages.

Overall we served approx. 50m sport video streams during the Olympics. This averaged out at about 3m per day, but peaked at 5.5m on Tuesday 19th August. There were many athletes you were interested in and Chris Hoy and the cycling team, Rachel Adlington, Christine Ohuruogu, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps were all athletes that generated large audiences.

As an example of what people were watching, here's what people watched (ie, started a video stream) or read (ie, viewed a web page) on Wednesday 20th when Usain Bolt was winning the 200 metres:

  • 200m text story: 914,543
  • 200m video: 501,943
  • 200m heats text story: 61,257
  • 100m video: 54,357
  • 200m heats video: 42,986
  • 200m interview video: 33,500
  • 100m text story: 33,500


We found that as much as 45% of the Olympics audience engaged with video from the Olympics site. The trend is more interesting in that in general you were keen to engage with video. Looking at how we promote AV, how we create clips and how we deliver them are all things to build on from the Olympics.

For example, the opening ceremony live stream was embedded on the News and Sport front pages, as well as the Olympics index. Around 80% played the stream on the Sport indexes, while 50% played the stream on the News index. In general, a quarter of the traffic which came to the Olympics site from the UK watched video (that is, those in the UK who can access the geographically rights-restricted streams).

My favourite statistic is that you watched nearly 9.7m hours of Olympic video on the website (yes, you did!) and regularly there were over 100,000 watching at the same time though the peak stayed at just under 200,000 across live and on demand videos.

How do the online and TV viewing experiences compare? Well, online you watched live video for about 15 minutes per day, and dipped in and out of on demand clips for about 3mins20sec per day. TV figures are in Roger Mosey's post here.

The Chinese can't get enough of the Olympics, like they don't want it to end and it's interesting to note that even though they could not see the video, there was a large international audience on the BBC Olympics site, some watching the live text updates, some looking for story details.

As well as the glamour of the Olympics, day-to-day news gathering carried on and also on Wednesday 20th, we served 2.7m news AV clips, with a peak in demand following the Madrid plane crash.

These are all amazing figures and if you are interested in comparing different countries in Europe and how they engaged online, you can start by looking here.

So another lesson? If this blog post had video in it, more of you would have read it... perhaps.

Thanks to you for enjoying the Olympics with us so much. Now go watch the Paralympics... you can get back to work in October.

John O'Donovan is Chief Technical Architect, BBC FM&T Journalism.


  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting stats, thanks.

    It was a shame that many of us using mobile broadband connections in the UK were blocked from accessing video content even though we can access iPlayer content!

    (T-Mobile UK user)

  • Comment number 2.

    Hardly fair to count the views when the coverage of some events was so lopsided.

    Again I say why no replays of events on iPlayer other than those that were readily available on TV. It is the perfect media to allow viewing of the shooting events for example but they were not deemed worthy.

  • Comment number 3.

    H John,

    very useful info. I've definitely found myself accessing more video with the changes to the site.

    One minor frustration though (and this seems to apply more to the News site than the Sport section) are those stories which are only available as video reports.

    For the majority of reports, I'd always prefer to scan an article than sit through video. I therefore find myself skipping quite a few stories of interest when the referring page only links to the video.

    I'm sure it means a lot more work to provide an accompanying article to every video report but, as your stats on the Usain Bolt report seem to suggest, more users still prefer reading an article on the web to viewing video of it.

    The Olympic coverage overall has been excellent and, as a casual Olympics fan, I've found the online content of more use than the television coverage.


  • Comment number 4.

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  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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