How the world watched the Olympics online

Summary:Much has been made of NBC's Olympic numbers, which had the rights for online video in the US, and what that means for Silverlight. I thought the app was solid, the video quality was good, and all in all it was a win for Microsoft and RIAs.

How the world watched the Olympics online
Much has been made of NBC's Olympic numbers, which had the rights for online video in the US, and what that means for Silverlight. I thought the app was solid, the video quality was good, and all in all it was a win for Microsoft and RIAs. In that vein, I'm pretty impressed with how Adobe did across the rest of the world. The BBC in the UK and CCTV in China were both big Flash users. There were a number of other countries using Flash as well (and a couple using Silverlight). I think the numbers show that there's worldwide interest in rich media and strong adoption of Flash.

In fact, the majority of online video for the Olympics was delivered in Flash. There's a great blog post up by John O'Donovan, the Chief Technical Architect at the BBC about their Olympic numbers. For Beijing they streamed nearly 40 million videos with up to 5.5 million Olympic videos watched each day at an average of around 3 million. In total there were 6.5 million hours of video delivered using Flash by the BBC. What those numbers don't include are streams from the BBC iPlayer or the mobile platforms. It's all Flash in the browser. Compare that to 72 million videos in the states, and it shows that in a country much smaller than the US, online the Olympics was a hit.

More importantly, the numbers out of China are fantastic. In the first 10 days CCTV's website streamed Olympic coverage to 100 million people according to the New York Times (registration required). CCTV used an innovative system which combined Flash Media Server with their own P2P technology which made it easy for anyone in China to watch the Olympics regardless of bandwidth. So in China we'll have 2,900 hours of Olympic content backed up and ready to watch with Flash Video.

What's also interesting to see is how the BBC got more comfortable over the course of the Olympics with their video content. By the end of the Olympics they were actually putting the live video stream on the front page of the BBC News homepage as the lead story. That's pretty impressive and I think it's a very good sign that rich media is creeping even more deeply into a role as a primary way to consume content.

Topics: China, Software Development

About

Ryan Stewart holds an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is now a Rich Internet Application developer and industry analyst. After graduating from Penn, he spent two years developing applications for the Wharton School and pushing the idea of the web as a platform for learning. Ryan now lives in Seattle with his wife... Full Bio

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