Broadband News

Was Amazon Prime football streaming behind slow BT on Thursday evening?

Generally UK broadband providers have been very good at not having peak time meltdowns, but the recent launch of live streamed Premier League football matches on Amazon Prime will have been a massive test of capacity planning and the ability of providers to mitigate large spikes in traffic without the public noticing.

Alas the evening of Thursday 5th December saw our daily monitoring of speed tests for BT (excluding EE and Plusnet customers) hit its slowest average speed since 27th October 2019. It is possible that this may have been a random event, but our alerts system draw our attention to average download speed of 21.2 Mbps as it was more than 2 standard deviations outside the mean for the last 30 days in hours 7pm to 10pm.

Plot of Virgin Media download speeds over last sixty days
Trend of mean and median average download speeds for BT Consumer customers in the last 60 days

One would have expected BT Consumer who have been running BT Sport for some years now to be well area of the appeal for live streaming football, but it is possible that they may have underestimated the number who would stream the live event and the amount of data it would consume. On December 4th when another match was on LONAP set a new record breaking the half a terabit a second barrier, previous peak seen was 443 Gbps. The peaks on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings were higher than Thursday evening when you look at the LONAP aggregate statistics for ports they are monitoring.

So while not everyone is interested in football, there may be a few more geeks than usual paying an interest with the next big match due on Saturday evening to see if traffic does spike again and how the different providers cope.

Comments

@thinkbroadband Yes, it was running about 2 minutes behind. I usually listen to Radio Newcastle commentary while wa… https://t.co/8EA4A2WJOm

  • @961a
  • comment via twitter
  • about 1 month ago

My connection (IDNet) definitely showed the effect but it's not been right since:

https://www.thinkbroadband.com/broadband/monitoring/quality/view/eab4d3cae4ec2563533a78cbd762fbd50bab935d

My line is usually very clean but was recently given a bump up by DLM and didn't show any issues until Wednesday night.

  • AndrueC
  • about 1 month ago

I watched football on all three nights both on a laptop and via a fire-stick + TV and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of service. I accept that streaming is going to be a bit behind 'live' TV. In this case it was 1 to 1 1/2 minutes behind the text service, but that allowed me to start paying attention when I knew a goal or significant event was coming. And, yes there were more gaps and 'catchup' times on the Thursday. Looking forward to the Wolves-Man city match on 27th.

  • bobhaden
  • about 1 month ago

Andrew

BT Consumer run BT Sport over a CDN via the multicast facility so do not suffer from core congestion. Amazon appears to be straight over the net so causing core congestion for all customers. It would be interesting to see if other networks has a coincident drop but may not have been as much.

  • jumpmum
  • about 1 month ago

There were regional quality issues with the Amazon service via BT Consumer a couple of days before, too.

Other operators were able to use traffic engineering to manage the combination of traffic with Amazon and streams served via on and off-net CDNs.

BT's automated, telemetry-based <insert buzzwords> network it seems didn't have spare capacity to engineer traffic through or simply failed to do so.

Operators were certainly hitting record numbers but the other 3 of the big 4 seemed to have the network and CDN capacity to handle it from their own customers' and Amazon's point of view.

  • CarlThomas
  • about 1 month ago

Was just saying, I have been having issues for several days on Zen and PlusNet. Packet loss when my line was only under around 20% load causing particularly bad issues when using a VPN. I saw it peak at 50% packet loss with 2000ms ping over the VPN.

Zen wasn't quite as bad as Plusnet (without the VPN I saw pings rise to 100ms with 50ms jitter), but both were suffering, possibly some cabinet contention kicking in there?

I wish Virgin Media would do my end of the street so I could switch the second line to a different technology.

  • alexatkinuk
  • about 1 month ago

BT probably did demand projections based on the dwindling audience for their increasingly dismal and expensive sports channel ! I watched all of the matches from Amazon in UHD which was stunning . Even more
so when viewed through Dolbyvision via an Apple 4K TV box .

Still in picture resolution terms it gives BT something to aspire to before
they dump BT Sports altogether .

  • Marlon88
  • about 1 month ago

Thursday evening after watching Brighton beat Arsenal, a friend in Israel was Skyping me from his garden with a cup of coffee after his match had finished Meanwhile the referee on my Amazon Prime version had not blown his whistle for the end of the match.

  • skipper734
  • about 1 month ago

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