2019 Rugby World Cup Final breaks all-time streaming records in Africa


DStv Now served more than 500,000 unique users during match day.

In addition to the Springboks making history at the 2019 Rugby World Cup Finals this weekend, another revolution has been quietly underway. This year marks the point that live-streaming of sports went mainstream in Africa, breaking all-time online viewing records.

Much like the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup campaign, sport live-streaming had a somewhat rocky road to the final. But when things really counted, streaming delivered a record-breaking performance.

In the opening game, as South Africa faltered against New Zealand, DStv Now had its own challenges with some viewers missing out during the first half of the game. Fast-forward to the Final six weeks later and the situation was dramatically different, with viewing breaking all-time records for concurrent users and throughput, and this was all achieved with no downtime or outages.

Speaking about this, Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice said:

“Live events are the single biggest challenge a streaming service like DStv Now can face, as the huge number of concurrent users not only puts our systems under unprecedented load, it also strains the systems of the companies downstream from our servers who deliver the stream to customers. It’s fair to assume that the load during the Final was the largest ever seen in Africa, with three times more peak concurrent viewers than in the first game and double the number who watched the 2018 football World Cup Finals. Over the course of the day, we served more than half a million unique users.”

The number of active DStv Now users is four times higher than just two years ago, and there’s no sign of growth slowing. The number of hours streamed in a single day on the service now regularly tops one million, which is more than 100 years’ worth of viewing for a single person.

Talking about what the company changed to see the turnaround in DStv Now performance between the first and last games of the Rugby World Cup, Ekdahl said:

“We were disappointed at the problems we experienced early in the tournament. We’d of course done load testing and provisioned plenty of capacity, but we didn’t anticipate how congestion in one specific system could cascade into others. I’m proud of the work our engineering team has done to learn from that mistake, to rework systems architecture, and also work with partners who deliver the stream to customers to sort out bottlenecks affecting image quality. Our customers rightly expect systems to work, and in the face of record-breaking demand during the Final, DStv Now delivered the goods.”

The data carried by content delivery network partners during the Final peaked at more than 500 Gbps (more than 4,000 GB of data per minute), another record for DStv Now in Africa.

“This was a major test of our systems and the capacity of distribution networks and ISPs in the region. I’m pleased we came out on top and look forward to working with our partners to beef up streaming ability ready for 10 times and even 100 times the traffic we’re seeing now because the one thing we know for sure is that streaming video is going to keep growing,” concluded Ekdahl.