Seven admits Olympics app issues impacted streaming figures

Seven Network has admitted the issues which plagued its Olympics app in the first few days had an impact on the number of streams and minutes streamed.

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According to Seven, the app – which was plagued with problems, with users reporting it was freezing and crashing, preventing them from viewing the Games – has been downloaded 750,000 times, with seven million streams over the first three days and 45 million minutes of streaming posted.

Speaking with Mumbrella from Rio, Seven West Media chief digital officer, Clive Dickens, reiterated that the app outages had nothing to do with Seven.

“One of them was related to our CDM partner, Akamai, and one was related to the Olympic Broadcasting Services who are our distributor provider, but that has not stopped millions of Australians enjoying it online and on TV.

“The stability we’re getting from our service providers which powers the app and the website is improving all the time.”

Dickens said if the outages hadn’t occurred the minutes streamed “would have been significantly higher”.

“We acknowledged those three outages – they were fundamental and significant. At no time was everyone affected and it’s unfortunate. If we hadn’t had the outages just imagine what the numbers would have been.”

Clive Dickens: once the content is out there Seven is keen to keep the branding clear for ownership

Clive Dickens: Partnering with Google to deliver the app “was never an option”

In response to criticism suggesting Seven should have partnered with Google to deliver the Olympics app and website, Dickens said it “was never an option”.

“As to streaming and app production, all of that is delivered by the Olympic Broadcasting Services that’s part of our rights to the broadcast packages. That is the same with all the other rights broadcasters in the world except for NBC and the BBC who have particular relationships to go their own way,” he said.

“In the same way you can’t have 12 cameras at the finish line of the 100m, the access to the international broadcast centre and all those streams is controlled by the global Olympic Broadcasting Services.

He added: “We are partnering with Google, we are partnering through Google’s OneBox. If you type any Olympic term into Google you immediately get redirected to our products.”

Seven has also created a ‘7Olympics’ Youtube channel for Australian audiences where daily highlights, reviews and commentaries can be found. Dickens said the Youtube channel “has clocked over 1m views in three days”.

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Seven has partnered with US-based content delivery network, Akamai, and Olympic Broadcasting Services to deliver the app and website, both of which Dickens said went through “months of testing”.

“The issue of the performance was nothing to do with the app itself, it’s all about the technology in the technology centre in Rio,” he said.

“For example the centre’s had evacuations, air-con failures, power failures – whether you get a pre-roll or a longer roll or a buffer, if the app cannot access the video assets or the world assets, then it’s going to become unresponsive.

“Everything is dependent on the quality of the central services and, unfortunately, on two occasions those central services were not behaving as expected.

“Akamai had issues with dealing with the amount of interest and personally I think it’s because the world is doing the same thing at the same time and that’s putting huge strain on the infrastructure that provides streaming to Australia. That is one of the things that we’re experiencing.

“Normally the internet is a fantastic piece of technology but it’s built for people to be doing different things at different times, it’s not built for everybody doing the same thing at the same time.”

Dickens admitted the streaming minutes figure could have been bigger if everything had run smoothly.

“We’re doing 3m streams a day that means that the Olympics on Seven product is the third-biggest video streaming product in Australia only behind Youtube and Facebook and way ahead of any other product or publisher on daily streams – that includes the whole of News, the whole of Fairfax and the whole of Nine Entertainment on a daily basis on one simple product,” he said.

“It could have been even more and we apologise to the people whose experience has been affected. The audience is building and the platform is stabilising and all the best stories to come.”

When asked if the issues plaguing the app had an affect on any commercial partnerships, Dickens said there has been no impact.

“All of our partners and sponsors have been working with us for a long time across Seven Olympics and we have delivered all of our objectives.”

Reflecting on the app’s performance so far, Dickens said the app’s install rate of 750,000 is “very large”.

“If you compare that to the London 2012 Olympics, where the broadcaster in Australia that had those rights had 135,000 downloads in three weeks.”

Similarly, comparing the 7m streams to the London Olympics, Dickens said the London 2012 official broadcaster reporter 6.2m streams over the whole 17 days.

“We’re now a million ahead of that after three,” he said.

On minutes streamed, Dickens said Australia is currently at around 25% of minutes streamed by US TV broadcasting company NBC.

“The NBC, the world’s biggest broadcaster, released their minutes and in the first three days of the Olympics they have reported they have streamed 216m minutes with a population of 330m and we have 45m minutes, that’s just under 25% of NBC’s minutes with only 8% of the population.

“Clearly the engagement levels of Australians to streaming are way higher than America and the amount of people streaming is indexing way higher than the NBC.”

Dickens said Seven has always expected the app downloads to “be between 1m and 1.5m by the end of the closing ceremony and we’re well on course to achieving that”.

He explained that for Seven website visits is another key metric with 84% of visits coming from desktop.

“That’s not because desktop is back – we’re in a mobile first world. But if you want to watch the swimming you can have one or two or three windows open on your work PC and stream there on your desktop.”


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