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Record-breaking stats see BBC Olympic coverage deliver 2.8 petabytes

The arrival of the Olympics in the UK had everyone predicting the worst for our technological infrastructure and its ability to handle the rocketing electronic activity of the Games-obsessed masses.

Questions were asked about the mobile operators’ plans to cope with demand, and TV networks faced a few early glitches when excessive social media use disrupted coverage. But stories of full-scale data jams and service meltdowns never truly emerged, and the BBC Sport’s online team has today given itself a pat on the back for its sturdy performance under intense usage.

Cait O'Riordan, Head of Product for Sport at the BBC, said in a company blog post that “the peak audiences for Team GB's medal moments were bigger than anything we've ever seen,” as the service sustained the pressure to deliver an incredible 2.8 petabytes during its busiest day.

For the unacquainted, that admittedly means very little. But when you consider a petabyte represents a quadrillion bytes, and the equivalent of a million gigabytes, the figure can start to be appreciated. Indeed the staggering popularity of the BBC’s online service meant this peak 24-hours alone exceeded the output of the BBC’s entire coverage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The most requested live stream during the games came from one the less typical Olympic events in the tennis singles finals, as the nation basked in the joy of Andy Murray’s gold medal. Jessica Ennis’s Heptathlon exploits and Usain Bolt’s 100m triumph were less surprising entries in the top 10 most watched.

O’Riordan said over 106 million requests were made for BBC Olympic video content across all online platforms, adding that the service aimed to “leave a lasting legacy in terms of audiences to BBC online.”

Paying tribute to these involved, O'Riordan said, “The digital development teams in London and Salford as well as our commercial partners have worked incredibly hard for months to ensure that we delivered what we set out to do for 2012.”