How Rio 2016 is sucking up all of our mobile data

Angus Kidman 19 August 2016

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25% of all Telstra traffic dedicated to watching a single event.

Streaming of the Rio 2016 Olympics did not get off to a great start, with widespread complaints that the Olympics on 7 app wasn't working properly. Those early glitches were cleared up, and some key Olympic events have accounted for an enormous proportion of mobile network traffic.

Telstra mobile customers have been given free access to the app, rather than having to pay a one-time $19.95 fee, so it's not surprising that they've been fairly enthused. At its media briefing yesterday to outline new mobile plan inclusions, including unmetered access to Apple Music, Telstra disclosed some figures which show just how keen we are to watch sporting events on our mobile phones, rather than just switching on our TV at home or heading to the nearest pub.

The most dominant event so far has been the men's basketball preliminary, where Australia put up a decent showing against the inevitably dominant USA. During the closing moments of that match, 25% of all Telstra's mobile network data traffic was from people watching the event. Yes, that's right: a quarter of all the data flowing around was just for streaming a single sporting match.

One factor in that heavy mobile usage is undoubtedly the time difference between Australia and Rio, which means that there aren't many events happening during prime time viewing hours in the evening. But whatever the time zone, it's clear that our viewing habits are shifting away from TVs and onto our phones and tablets.

Usain Bolt's victory in the men's 100 metres did nearly as well, capturing 24% of total traffic. The women's rugby final between Australia and New Zealand caught 19% of traffic, the women's 100m freestyle final grabbed 18% and the men's 100m freestyle caught 13%. Those high figures for women's events suggest that Telstra's live streaming deal for netball is likely to be a big success.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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