If ever proof was needed Australians love their sport, last weekend Telstra customers set new records for the number of people streaming sports content on our Official AFL, NRL, and Netball Live mobile apps.
We had an AFL round where five games were decided by less than a goal; the NRL had several upsets and some high scoring games; and netball saw results decide who would contest this year’s finals series.
That saw a record number of more than 1.2 million devices being used by people to stream sport on our sports apps. We also set a record for the most concurrent video streamers we have ever seen at any one point in time, across our sports apps. The great news was that all of this happened with no major issues. We have come a long way in a short time in terms of the maturity of our products, platforms, teams and live event production and monitoring.
Our record weekend was not a one off either – this season we have seen a 58 per cent increase in the overall number of customers streaming games. On any given weekend, our customers are streaming almost 40 million minutes of live content over our sporting apps, which puts them among the world’s leading examples for real-time sports consumption.
Mobile connectivity means today’s fans can be immersed in a live game, have the latest statistics at their fingertips and even experience the action from the position of the central umpire who is wearing a camera and within arm’s reach of their team’s star players. We know how important every play, every decision and every score in a game can be which is why we continue to put so much effort into the development of our products, platforms, live event production and monitoring.
Across the board, video streaming of entertainment content continues to be a major driver of the rapid increase in mobile data, whether it be on sports apps, Foxtel, Netflix and other streaming services or catch-up TV. Today, video streaming accounts for 40 per cent of activity on our mobile network and we predict it will account for 75 per cent of all mobile network usage by 2022.
Our challenge – and it is one we take incredibly seriously – is keeping ahead of Australia’s appetite for entertainment content. That means finding new ways to deliver the best experience for our customers, all while freeing up capacity and bandwidth in the network so we can continue to support future growth.
We are doing this by continuing to lead in introducing new technologies such as LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B) functionality on the AFL Live Official app for customers using Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, S9 and S9+ devices. We are the only operator in Australia – and one of the first in the world – to do so on a mobile network.
This gives us the ability to broadcast a single stream of content to large groups of people in the same area, enabling them to watch the same content on their devices at once, instead of requesting independent streams of content over our mobile network. This helps provide a better experience for our customers watching the game and frees up network capacity for everyone else.
We have also introduced High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) technology. As video streaming audiences continue to grow, it helps us to maintain a high quality experience for customers while keeping requirements for data transfer on the network at a consistent level.
We will take a similar leadership approach when 5G technologies become mainstream. We are investing to build the networks of the future because demand for our core products and services – including our sports apps – has never been greater. We have seen data growth at 50 per cent per annum and telecommunications networks have become the most critical infrastructure in the world today.
They say all records are made to be broken and we do not expect last weekend’s sport streaming record to be any different, particularly as we head into the finals race across the various codes. Our role is to keep our customers in the box seat, with the best sports content, the best technology and innovation and above all – a world class experience from wherever they are tuning in from.