It seems that the World Cup tournament currently being played in South Africa is going to be the first of this championship to be remembered for meeting up with the digital age.
The International Federation of Association Football (French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), better known as FIFA, has staged the World Cup since 1930, and due to the world-wide popularity of football (soccer in the United States), it has come to be the most watched sporting event in the world. Although the Internet has been around for several of the past tournaments, it seems that 2010 is the year where it has become a major factor.
According to Akamai, a company that tracks Web traffic to video news sites, the first day of the tournament on June 11th saw nearly 11 million video requests per minute from people looking for news and streams of the games. Up until now, the most watched video event in the history of the Web was inauguration of President Obama last Nov., but that is now being dwarfed on a daily basis as the first round of the World Cup marches on.
Twitter has also been experiencing abnormally high levels of traffic, leading to numerous appearances of the infamous “Fail Whale” that indicate the site is being crushed under the amount of messages it is receiving. Things seem to be improving, but the Whale does keep popping up here and there depending on what teams are currently playing.
Mobile applications have been coming out at a breakneck pace, the FIFA site is enjoying as many pageviews right now as Facebook and the Vuvazela horn has become a Web celebrity for the amount of annoyance its constant droning at games has caused.
Currently the tournament is in its second round of games for the Group of 32, the first round of the series. Each team plays three games in this round, and the Group of 16, which then goes to single elimination, doesn’t even begin until June 26. Considering the traffic we’ve seen during this less consequential round, one can only imagine what it will be like as we get into the rounds of eight, four and the eventual championship match on July 11th.
The question is, if we are seeing traffic of these numbers at this stage, can the Web stand up the crush one can only imagine at those higher stages? We are all familiar with the slowness that comes with Cyber Monday (the busiest online shopping day of the year that comes the Monday after the United States Thanksgiving holiday), could we see that happen multiple times in the higher levels of the World Cup? Only time will tell, but it certainly looks to be an interesting couple of weeks coming up.
What say you? Are you watching the World Cup? If so, are you going with traditional television, or are you doing it online?