Strong Web Performance as the 2012 Olympic Games Begin

by | July 31, 2012

The London 2012 Olympics started off strong on Friday night as the host country treated sports fans and patriots across the globe to a memorable opening ceremony: a look at country history during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, a parachute arrival by the Queen and James Bond, and an emotional performance by Sir Paul McCartney. The ceremony attracted a record number of viewers — 40.7 million — and a record number of tweets as well. From 8 p.m. in the U.K. through the end of the delayed U.S. broadcast, 9.66 million tweets referenced the opening ceremony.

Despite the record-breaking attention the opening ceremony received, websites covering the Olympics performed well on Friday and, for the most part, continue to do so as the first full week of the games continues.

There was some early concern as to whether Twitter could handle the traffic, especially given its pre-Olympic outage the previous day, but the site remained available throughout the ceremony and start of the games. On average in the U.S., it responded in between three and 5.6 seconds, depending on location.

Apica is also monitoring the web performance of dozens of news sites across the globe, and so far we haven’t come across any major issues. In general, response times increased slightly during the opening ceremony, but nothing too dramatic. And since then, response times have normalized.

Users to most sites experienced load times of less than one second over the weekend, though in some cases it could have taken between two and 10 seconds for the page’s content to render completely. YouTube’s London 2012 channel was on the faster end of this spectrum, delivering full-page renders in just two seconds. In contrast, the official websites for The Independent in Ireland and Pravda in Russia took more than 20 seconds to fully load.

It’s worth noting that U.K. news sites covering the games have performed strongly as well. Under simple URL checks, which verify that a website is “alive”, all the sites we’re monitoring clocked in nearly instantaneously, at under 0.03 seconds. Full-page render checks measures how long it takes for all the objects on the page – data, images, JavaScript, etc. – to load. These checks for the sites in our monitors elicited slightly higher response times, but still all under 10 seconds.

Stay tuned as we continue to track the website performance of the news and social media sites covering the Olympics as the competition continues.