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FIFA 2010 World Cup and Mobile TV

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Beginner

I just returned from a trip to IEEE CQR Conference (http://www.ieee-cqr.org/), where a lot of this year's discussion was around offering quality and reliability for large-scale sporting events.  The focus was largely around the preparations and delivery of voice, video, and data services to Olympic Villages during the previous Vancouver Olympics, and some future thoughts around delivering the same for 2012 London Olympics, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and the 2016 Rio Olympics.  A noticeable missing presentation was around the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but I expect this is largely due to the time constraints given that the World Cup is already in full-swing (with a very noticeable dominance by Germany early-on).

While statistics for the entire coverage are available, the interesting stats to consider are the mobile ones...

NBC Universal numbers released shortly after the Olympic Games show not only that mobile data is on the rise for live sporting events (Vancouver Olympics had roughly 2.5x the amount of mobile traffic as Beijing 2yrs earlier), but also that mobile video usage for live sporting events is finally large enough to be called out separately.  Here are just a few of the NBC stats from their press release:

- NBC Olympics Mobile platforms (Mobile Web Site and iTunes App), through  the full 17 days of the Games have amassed 87.1 million page views, 52  million more than the total number of page views for the entire 17-day  Beijing Games (34.7 million).
- There have been two million mobile video streams in the17 days, more  than six times the total number for the entire 17-day Beijing Games  (301k).
- By the time the Opening Ceremony broadcast started at 7:30 p.m. on Feb  12, NBC Olympics Mobile already generated more page views than the  entire 2006 Winter Games (1.0 million).

All of these statistics, and a recent report by Pyramid Research (www.pyr.com) point towards significant growth in mobile video viewership for this year's World Cup in South Africa.  While many providers are launching applications to provide realtime scores and news updates, there is also a proliferation of social networking applications focused around the WC2010.   FIFA announced it would be offering content tailored specifically to mobile devices for the first time.  ESPN is partnered with just about everyone to deliver mobile video, including MobiTV, and the three largest US mobile providers - Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint.  In addition, Qualcomm is offering a part of the action through their FloTV offering.  Not to be outdone, Yahoo! Sports has launched their own mobile site with scores and schedules.

The question remains - will events like WC2010 finally spark the uptick in mobile video that many have been predicting for the better part of the last 5 years?  The early statistics from ESPN look promising, and point towards WC2010 blowing past the numbers from the Olympic Games just 4 short months ago:

- ESPN's mobile offerings (ESPN Mobile Web, ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup App,  ESPN ScoreCenter App) generated 8.2 million visits and 50.4 million page  views to World Cup content over the first 2 days of the event.  This compares favorably to the 73 million page views to the FIFA mobile website during the entire 2006 World Cup.

- Mobile  platforms also generated 555,000 video views in those two days.

As asked by Sophia yesterday, are mobile networks ready for this type of video traffic?  Let's stay tuned for final numbers from WC2010 to better understand network impacts.

5 Comments

Kevin, very interesting statistics!

Until the  final statistics are known the full impact of mobile video demand at WorldCup 2010 is yet to be seen, but it seems evident the numbers are going up quickly. As you probably know the FCC is proactively seeking to reclaim spectrum for the anticipated demand in mobile services. What role do you see Cisco playing in helping service providers be more proactive in anticipation of that demand?

Beginner

Hi Leonard - solutions for solving video challenges encompass a wide array of functions, ranging from video optimization to transport optimization to network QoS/policy to Call Admission Control (CAC) to offload.  These solutions exist from many different players, and Cisco has solutions for the vast majority.  For instance:

1) Video optimization - tends to run on general purpose (Intel-based) platforms.  Cisco's Unified Service Delivery (USD) solutions, encompassing Nexus switches (by the way, good analyst reports on Cisco marketshare in datacenter switching as a result of Nexus in the last several days), Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS), and storage solutions allow a mobile operator to deploy robust, easy-to-manage solutions for video optimization.

2) Transport optimization - similar to the above, there are many capabilities that exist on general purpose computing.  In addition, point 3 is quite important in addressing point #2.

3) Policy/Qos - Cisco's role in policy/QoS in mobile networks is fairly extensive.  From QoS and queuing in mobile backhaul networks, to our recent Starent acquisition and launch of the Cisco ASR5K with standards-defined mobile policy interfaces (ie, the 3GPP Gx+ interface) to advanced Deep Packet Inspection technologies in a few different platforms, extending into virtualization (and prioritization of flows within the virtualized environment) across the IP core network (MPLS) and datacenter (VLAN, Virtual machines)

4) Call Admission Control - with mobile video, as with all video, there is an absolute utility curve.  This implies that, below a certain threshold of performance, the utility of the video is 0.  This is much different than non-realtime protocols, such as HTTP.  For instance, if the performance threshold for HTTP drops, it just means that you don't get the webpage as quickly.  if the performance threshold for video drops, the video is unviewable.  This drives the need for CAC (as a function of policy, actually), whereby you an recognize, that in a shared environment such as mobile wireless networks, allowing an addition session (video or otherwise) might impact "the greater good" (so to speak), or users who have already established a video session.

5) Offload - Olload technologies, such as femtocells and WiFi, have thus-far been looked at as coverage augmentation.  Going forward, I expect that we will see these offload  technologies more as a capacity augmentation.  This will allow mobile operators to protect their licensed macro spectrum by leveraging any available wireless signal.  From 3GPP to IEEE 802.11u to other mobile standards orgs - these offload techniques are certainly becoming more mainstream, independent of the limited commercial success that femtocell has achieved thus-far.

With these points in mind, I am going to share some opinions I have, versus taking the strict corporate position on your very question - which is where do I see Cisco playing/helping.  I believe the uniqueness of Cisco is that we play in the home environment (Linksys, SciAtl), femtocell (strategic investment in ip.access), mobility network (mobile gateway, backhaul), to core network, and the datacenter.  The interaction between these domains will become increasingly important.  I believe, at that point, we begin to look at a common unifying protocol - and that protocol is IP.  We begin to see IP less as a transport technology and more as a service enablement/delivery technology, and video is just one of those services.

However, I believe the bigger role that needs to be figured out by the mobile SP is how to monetize the video, rather than just "absorbing the impact".  Online content, in general, continues to be de-valued, and service offerings that give away mobile video are failing to recognize revenue from the differentiated service offering.  I believe that operators are still looking at what the right model is, but I do have some concerns that the re-emergence of tiered pricing models are going to impact mobile video growth.  Cisco is one of the companies that needs to help the mobile SP with transformative business models to capture new revenue streams.

Hey Kevin,

What is unique about your comments is that not only are you viewing the landscape from a technology standpoint, but your insights also address the business model. This is important in recognizing the role both play in helping Service Providers reach a level of monetization which will support the technology innovations.

With that said, it would be great to talk with your further about mobility and the role Cisco can play in helping SP's reach their goals.

Beginner

Hi Leonard - I believe my contact info is in my profile, if you click on my name.

Quick update on usage after first 3 days:

ESPN's mobile offerings -- ESPN Mobile Web, ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup  App, ESPN ScoreCenter App -- scored 11.7 million visits and 70.3 million  page views to World Cup content.

The mobile platforms yielded  761,000 video views in those days. This points to a trend of nearly 250,000 videos per day.

Cisco Employee

Just came across the following link looking at London inter-exchange traffic http://www.lonap.net/mrtg/lonap-total.html. Looks like the June peaks were around England matches and were about double the typical traffic in May.

Cheers,

Mark

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