Maybe it was the lure of $1,000,000 offered by Warren Buffet (Sadly no one will collect on that). It certainly had something to do with Thursday and Friday being work days. Maybe the Big Upsets started getting people online once they started happening. This year, the opening weekend of March Madness had a bit more impact on the Internet than previous years.
A look at a few networks (one in the Northeast and one in the Midwest) show that although the impact was less than 1% of all Internet traffic at peak, that is still pretty impressive considering the TV coverage given the games. Computers went to one site (on Akamai) and mobile devices went to another (turner.ncaa.com) – mimicking what we have seen with the Superbowl and other events that separate the mobile streams from the PC streams.
The Northeast market:
The Northeast market had a more sustained rate of viewing for the tournament, peaking at just over 1% of traffic during peak times, and holding onto viewers online through Saturday, with a drop-off on Sunday as we saw in the Midwest. 1% of overall traffic is nothing to sneeze at (considering what rates we consider exciting for other live events!).
The Midwest market:
Traffic peaked on Thursday as the early games (and some big names in the Midwest getting knocked out of the tournament) had spotty coverage on TV, and then tailing off as the weekend went on and TV became more accessible (but not totally going away). Traffic never got above ~.66% of overall bandwidth on the network, but was still consistent showing that people were watching online even when TV coverage was available during the weekend.
All in all, solid growth versus previous years (2012 report here – where less than .1% of traffic was March Madness, and we did not even cover last year because it was so minor), but continuing the recent trends that users are getting more comfortable streaming events online. This summer’s World Cup will likely blow all of these records to bits online, but that, of course, will be saved for when that event occurs! Stay tuned!