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This year's World Cup first to offer flawless streaming?

Hostway says technology is finally up to scratch

This year's World Cup, which kicks off in South Africa on Friday, could be the first tournament that offers a successful online viewing experience for football fans, says Hostway.

According to Neil Barton, director of the internet hosting company, the 2006 World Cup, which took place in Germany, was the first major football tournament where UK online viewers were able to access matches over the internet.

The BBC alone had three million unique visitor requests per day during the first two weeks of the event.

Unfortunately, many websites couldn't cope with vast number of visitor requests, leaving many web users unable to access the sites.

Furthermore, slow loading times resulted in a poor viewing experience for those who did manage to get online.

"During the last World Cup, many websites dabbled with streaming matches and showing video highlights," said Barton.

"For a lot of people the online experience was as painful as watching England go out on penalties, as websites struggled to cope with large numbers of visitors logging on for individual matches and video highlights."

Barton said over the last couple of years there has been a steady increase in the amount of football video content that has been shown online. This year saw the first FA Cup matches streamed online on the Football Association's website, while in October last year, 500,000 online viewers watched the Ukraine vs England match, which was the first England game to be broadcast live solely online.

As a result of the increase in matches being streamed, a number of tools and techniques, such as intelligent load balancing, content caching and content delivery networks that can give website owners the edge when it comes to improving the performance of online video, have emerged.

"So whether it is the World Cup, Wimbledon or the Olympics, there is no reason why websites shouldn't be able to provide users with an optimal online video experience," Barton said.

"Undoubtedly the 2010 World Cup will be one of the most viewed online events of the year, and thankfully a lot more websites will finally have the infrastructure to cope."

See also: How to watch the FIFA World Cup in style


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