I figured they must have won a decent piece of the World Cup CDN business. This morning Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings) confirmed my suspicions, announcing that they have been delivering the World Cup matches in HD to online audiences for several European broadcasters. Of particular mention was Telecinco in Spain, whose relationship with Level 3 was already known. Some 220,000 people watched Spain vs Switzerland live online concurrently. That was the biggest online event that Level 3 and Telecinco have put on so far, but I'll bet they eclipse that record with ease when Spain meets Portugal tomorrow in the round of 16.
The tournament has gotten more attention this cycle from US audiences in recent cycles, but in terms of raw viewership it remains an international audience and therefore much of the CDN revenue to be earned was in Europe where Level 3 has been doing quite well. This being a live event, the company is also able to leverage its Vyvx infrastructure.
Having played soccer in high school, I have long been a fan of the World Cup and I've been watching it both on TV and online - burning as many bits as my meager connection will allow me to. The USA of course was knocked out by Ghana just the other day, but honestly I enjoyed their run this time better than in any past tournament. Not because they played amazingly well, but because for the first time I could sense an independent, American personality from the team that amounted to more than the "look, we can play like almost like Europeans now" that seemed to underlie earlier efforts - successful or not. They felt like ours this time at a deeper level.
There probably is no other event that tests CDNs in such a geographically diverse way. Infrastructure on 6 continents is getting quite a workout, and I'm sure Akamai, Limelight, CDNetworks, and the rest are getting their share of the work as well. So far so good, just wait until 2014 - that's another technological lifetime away still.
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