Since the World Cup first kicked-off back on June 12th, we have been covering its impact on application performance and business operations. We asked: would an increase in streaming of the world’s most watched event have an adverse effect on application performance? Now that the Cup is over and Germany beat out Argentina, yes, we can say that network and application performance suffered over the past month. Blame it on Rio.    Blame it on Rio

From the start, it was clear that high viewership numbers would present challenges for IT departments. FIFA reported record numbers of viewers the world over had tuned in during the earlier group stages of the World Cup, with a notable increase in viewers in the United States compared with previous years. According to Forbes, ESPN reported that total average viewership throughout the World Cup was at 56.57 million, with each match involving Team USA garnering an average viewership of 14.14 million. In fact, the USA-Portugal match was the most watched football match ever on US TV – 24.7 million viewers via ESPN and UNIVISION combined – higher than any past NBA Finals game and better than the average viewership of games during the 2013 World Series.

Such high levels of interest from the start suggested that employees would surely be streaming the matches during work hours. This would consume a lot of wireless network bandwidth and stress company networks, including application performance. A report by Cisco found that video streaming and IP broadcast of the World Cup was expected to generate 4.3 exabytes of Internet traffic – nearly three times Brazil’s average monthly traffic. WatchESPN got so many concurrent viewers – a record 1.7 million – that the digital edition of the game sputtered and died for several people.

In anticipation of these concerns, Ipswitch conducted a survey of more than 200 IT administrators which sought to measure the impact of the World Cup on corporate networks and application performance. The results, which confirmed our expectations, indicated the following:

  • Approximately two out of three IT admins (67 percent) experienced application performance problems and network management headaches. These could be directly tied to employees streaming the World Cup across their organization’s wireless network.
  • Of those, 70 percent said that the video streaming of matches had an adverse effect in several areas. Including employee productivity, network and application performance and business operations.
  • Desktop and laptop computers were the most common devices used by employees to stream World Cup matches at nearly 90 percent. Smartphones were not far behind at 83 percent, with tablets showing less popularity at 65 percent.

In some cases, companies chose to handle the problem by playing hardball themselves. For instance, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York banned ESPN from being streamed on employee desktops and laptops because the streaming was causing bandwidth problems at the bank. This proved to be only a temporary fix: employees simply shifted their viewing to Univision.

World Cup viewership continued to break records globally and according to published reports, estimates were that more than one billion viewers would tune into Sunday’s finale. The saving grace for IT being that this was taking place on a non-work day for most organizations.

While the World Cup 2014 is over, it has taught us some valuable lessons along the way. Planning for large scale media events is now a part of the IT puzzle and the ability to anticipate bandwidth spikes that can harm core business functions need to be accounted for. Before the next World Cup we’ll see two more Olympic Games, a new United States President and several other global sporting events. It will be interesting to see if these lessons are applied or if we are doomed to keep repeating our mistakes.

Managing Wireless Bandwidth and Network Traffic Flow

We’d like to help provide guidance on how to manage wireless bandwidth and network traffic flow to optimize application performance. In particular, this Weds, July 16, we will host a webinar that covers:

  • Discovering who consumes bandwidth
  • Monitoring access point health
  • Avoiding access point over-subscription

When: Wednesday, July 16 9 a.m. EDT and 11am EDT

How to register:


Just after the first matches got underway for the 2014 World Cup we put a survey into the field. We wanted to measure the impact the world’s most popular sporting event was having on corporate networks. And whether IT managers and network administrators had heeded the lessons learned from past events to better prepare this time around. With the increased popularity of the World Cup and soccer in general, we were confident there would be a noticeable impact. The majority of World Cup matches would coincide with the heart of the work day here in the United States. And there was wide-spread concern that workers would be streaming matches in record numbers. This would, in effect, adversely affect business operations.   Ball through monitor

Upon completion of the survey our predictions and concerned turned out to be valid. We heard from more than 200 IT administrators and other professionals in the U.S. Among them, approximately two out of three (67 percent) noted that they are currently experiencing IT problems that can be directly tied to employees streaming the World Cup. Even the Wall Street Journal recently reported on network problems due to World Cup streaming.

As to the question of whether they were better prepared based on recent large events, the results were somewhat disappointing. Our survey revealed that only slightly more than half of respondents (53 percent) had a plan in place to deal with the bandwidth spikes caused the World Cup. When plans were in place, most were focused on limiting streaming activity. Setting threshold alarms was the most common with 71 percent of respondents. While monitoring top applications and blocking certain websites received nearly 60 percent each.

Only 32 percent of respondents indicated that they were offsetting World Cup traffic by establishing centralized locations for employees to watch the action. Access was provided via both television and common streaming devices.

We’d love to hear how the World Cup has affected your work lives. Based on our survey results, it looks like it’s been a tough game.  

Ratings for the 2014 World Cup are beginning to surpass even the most optimistic television executive’s expectations. With the drama unfolding further after every match, viewers are tuning in with record numbers. While this is proving great for television, it is creating obstacles for organizations and their networks. One of the biggest issues facing IT pros is the bring your own device (BYOD) population. iStock_000041710126Medium

The average worker brings with them to the office each day two or more personal devices connected to the corporate network – each of which can be used for streaming World Cup matches. When you have a high-interest match such as the United States vs. Germany set to begin airing at noon ET on Thursday, this creates a situation where streaming is sure to surge resulting in large-scale bandwidth drain.

So the question becomes, how do those charged with network performance account for the sudden spike in usage caused by workers personal devices? There are several options that can help the IT manager limit or even eliminate these spikes.

  1. Substitutions – create alternative viewing options for employees that don’t require them to stream the game through their personal devices. Options could include setting up television viewing stations in break rooms, cafeterias, etc.
  2. Yellow Card – issue a warning to the BYOD crowd that bandwidth limits are being set for streaming and if it crosses a certain threshold, it will be shut down and the stream cut. This ensures that the organization will have sufficient bandwidth remaining to complete critical job functions.
  3. Red Card – block the ability to stream the match completely. While this is sure to illicit a number of complaints from your organizations diehard soccer fans and bandwagon jumpers alike, it is a surefire way to ensure that valuable bandwidth is not consumed for non-work activities and is available for critical business applications.

Depending on your organization and market, bandwidth spikes can have differing effects. It is important to understand patterns of usage and how streaming can affect business operations. Having a firm grasp on the demands of your network will ensure that business isn’t shut out by the World Cup.


Part II of our World Cup series looks at the impact of streaming media on your network and how the decline of television viewership is actually creating bandwidth problems for the enterprise.

TV viewership is on the decline. Yes really, you read that correctly. However, that should not be confused with a decline in media viewing which is actually on the rise. The reality is that more people than ever are streaming video via the Internet rather than getting it through more traditional cable companies.

Bloomberg reported in March of 2014 that the number of Americans who pay for TV through cable, satellite or fiber services fell by more than a quarter of a million in 2013, the first full-year decline, according to research firm SNL Kagan. If the slide continues in the coming years, that means 2012 was the industry’s high point.

world_cup_2014It’s not that viewers are watching less video. Online-streaming services from Netflix and continue to draw more users with shows like “House of Cards,” charging fees of less than $10 a month. What’s changed is that fewer people are willing to shell out $40 a month or more for the wider menu of cable channels. There is a whole new generation of media viewer emerging, commonly referred to as “cord nevers” that are changing the media landscape and the way we think about delivering entertainment. While television remains the dominant entity, it is losing its grip, creating a problem across the networked landscape.

According to an article in re/code last month, Sandvine, the broadband networking company that provides periodic reports on Web usage, says that the top 15 percent of streaming video users go through 212 gigabytes of data month. That’s more than seven times the average broadband user, who uses 29 gigabytes.

When you mix the bandwidth suck created by wide-spread streaming media with the world’s most watched event, you can anticipate that network problems are not only likely, but a near certainty. Factor in the number of networked devices being carried by the average employee and the World Cup has the potential to wreak havoc on your network and slow productivity. That is why it will be critical during the next several weeks of the World Cup for IT to be constantly monitoring network and application performance to ensure it is not adversely effected by employees streaming matches live.

Don’t let unattended streaming kick your network into submission!

If asked to name the five most-viewed sporting events in the world, what would you say?

Perhaps The World Series, March Madness or Wimbledon?

All good guesses, but you’d be wrong in each case. Here are the top five events when it comes to attracting a media audience, with the most-viewed at the top:

  1. The World Cup
  2. The Olympic Games
  3. ICC Cricket World Cup Championship
  4. Super Bowl
  5. Monaco Grand Prix

iStock_000037172808MediumAnd while they are all on the same list, the standings aren’t even close. The World Cup is far and away the most watched sports event on the planet. Here are some interesting statistics from FIFA’s 2010 World Cup Television Audience Report.

In-home audience reach based on viewers watching at least:

  • 1+ minute of coverage: 3.2 billion representing 46% of the global population in 2010
  • 3+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.8 billion representing 41% of the global population in 2010
  • 20+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.2 billion representing 32% of the global population in 2010
  • 30+ consecutive minutes of coverage: 2.0 billion representing 29% of the global population in 2010

Think about that for a moment. Nearly half of the world’s population tuned in for at least a brief time to watch one of the 64 matches that make up the World Cup tournament. In fact, FIFA says 909.6 million television viewers watched at least one minute of the 2010 World Cup final at home between Spain and the Netherlands, and the total likely topped a billion when adding online and public screenings. One billion people for one match. Really mind boggling numbers when you consider that the highest-rated Super Bowl (a borderline national holiday in the United States) of all time, the New York Giants vs. the New England Patriots garnered 111.6 million viewers.

With the World Cup set to kick-off today, we thought it would be both an entertaining and informative exercise to look at this event and the potential it has to impact your corporate network. Over the next several weeks we’ll explore what increased viewership of this event, coupled with the increase in networked devices and availability of streaming options mean to your organization.

The world’s most popular sporting event is about to kick-off, is your network ready?


The World Cup is just three short weeks away. But before you prepare your wardrobe for the month of matches (get those jerseys laundered will you??) we suggest preparing your network for the event.

Now, you may be saying “Huh? What are you talking about; why should I be thinking about my network when I have my team to worry about?”

You should be thinking about your network because you are most definitely not the only one in your office who has their team on their mind.

According to a study by IDC Research, the average organization wastes between 30% and 40% of its network bandwidth to non-work related online activities. Just imagine the spike the in that percentage once the World Cup gets underway!

The 2010 World Cup is the first in the history of the tournament where every game will be streamed online live. You can bet video streaming sites such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer and other BitTorrent video sites will be used to their full potential during these games.

And while it’s nice that your co-workers will never have miss a game at work, you can bet your job will be made more hectic than ever, reacting to bandwidth chokes  from the extra usage – or even worse – complete outages.