When Shane Watson’s blitzkrieg in the IPL final yesterday had meant that Chennai Super Kings needed only 2 runs to win, his teammates had began congregating at the boundary to begin their celebrations. But by then, celebrations for streaming service Hotstar had already begun — they’d just broken the world record for the most people simultaneously watching a live streaming event.
— Sohini (@Mittermaniac) May 27, 2018
Hotstar created a world record for the most simultaneous users for a live streaming event during the IPL final last night, with usage peaking at 10.7 million concurrent connections. Usage for most of the match had hovered at around 5-6 million people, but spiked to 10.7 million as it was drawing to a close. By breaking through the 10 million barrier, Hotstar broke its own record of most users which it had set during the 1st qualifier between Chennai Super Kings and Hyderabad Sunrisers with 8.2 million users.
Hotstar’s numbers are particularly impressive, given how major world events which were streamed live only managed to garner a fraction of the viewers that the IPL seems to have attracted. The first Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had garnered 2 million users at its peak; Trump’s inauguration had seen 4.6 million viewers tune in. The Royal Wedding this month garnered 1.29 million viewers. The previous record, which Hotstar managed to break, had been of the 8 million viewers in 2012 who’d seen daredevil Felix Baumgartner jump out of a balloon which had been parked in space.
While cricket-crazy India presumably didn’t need much promotion for the country’s premier T20 event, the challenge for delivering live streaming video to record number of users had been significant. Hotstar had partnered with cloud services provider Akamai, which had provided its platform to help Hotstar stream its feed to millions of simultaneous users. Before the IPL, Hotstar and Akamai had come together and delivered live video to 4.8 million people during the India-Pakistan Champions Trophy final last year.
For India to deliver world-beating video streaming numbers is testament not only the the popularity of the IPL and the efforts of Hotstar, but also to the country’s telecom revolution. Not too long ago, high prices and data caps meant that streaming live sports on internet connections was all but infeasible. Worse, few internet connections could stream video without repeated buffering. But since Jio’s entry into the space in 2016, internet prices have plummeted, speeds have shot up, and the average Indian can now stream sports live on their smartphones. The world record numbers of live-streaming users might just mark the beginning of India’s upcoming internet revolution — thanks to India’s billion-strong population, falling smartphone prices, and perhaps the world’s cheapest data plans, many other industries could soon see themselves being disrupted by India’s mushrooming internet companies.