The Olympic Games get underway this week – and already pundits are saying that this will be the most “online” Games yet.

Riverbed Technology has unveiled new research that states that more than one-third of Europeans claim they will watch this summer’s Olympic Games online. As a result, streaming websites need to be prepared to cope with this demand.

The research identified the Men’s 100m sprint final as the Olympic event most likely to be watched online with an average of 51% of all respondents. The next most popular event to be watched online was the Men’s 100m freestyle swimming event, with an average of 3% , followed by the Men’s Football Final, which had an average of 30% of respondents1 claiming it as one of their most popular online events.

The study, carried out on behalf of Riverbed by several leading research firms across Europe2, surveyed more than 3 500 people across the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

The research uncovered that approximately one in five Europeans said that they were likely to watch more of this summer’s events over the Internet as compared to previous Olympic Games. It also found that over half of all online Olympic viewers would be unwilling to tolerate delays of over two minutes when streaming services before moving to a different source.

Apurva Davé, vice-president of products in the Stingray business unit at Riverbed, comments: “Europeans are changing their viewing habits. And global sporting events like Olympic Games often create traffic spikes as people use their PCs, laptops or mobile devices to watch their favourite athletes, get real-time updates on events, and purchase event-related merchandise.

“Organisations must take extra measures to meet the demand spike created by the Olympics. If they do not, and their websites are not responsive at peak times, then they could see their viewers giving up and choosing to watch the Games through other means instead – that potentially means lost advertising revenue and forgone e-commerce opportunities.”