Akamai, Facebook and Twitter saw dramatic video traffic spike on presidential election night

Akamai's NOCC (network operations control center) in Cambridge, Mass. Image: Akamai
Akamai's Network Operations Control Center (NOCC). Image: Akamai

Akamai, Facebook and Twitter saw video traffic spike dramatically during the night of the presidential election, surpassing earlier elections with voters using higher quality video and second-screen devices to access and interact with video content.

During the election night, Akamai reported that peak election-specific traffic was 7.5 Tbps at 11:53 p.m., an increase of just over 70 percent over the 4.4 Tbps it saw in the September presidential debate.

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Akamai noted in a blog post that overall traffic across the entire Akamai platform was high on election night. At 11:59 on that night, Akamai was peaking at 30 Tbps.

Election Night 2016 peak video traffic rates over Akamai's networks. Image: Akamai blog
Bill Wheaton, EVP and GM of media at Akamai, noted that what also contributed to the higher traffic numbers was the advent of better quality video streams.   

“Not only are more people watching online in general, they’re watching at higher quality, which contributes to the increasingly higher peaks in traffic that we’re observing,” Wheaton said in a Rapid TV News article.

Earlier events like the 2009 inauguration of President Obama reached 1.1 Tbps, and the Royal Wedding in 2011 hit 1.3 Tbps.

More recent events like the Rio Olympics saw 4.53 Tbps in max peak traffic. During the Olympics, Akamai supplied online video streaming, website and video delivery along with security solutions to support 3.3 billion total streaming minutes, 2.71 billion of which were live.

Although most voters spent their time watching election results on live TV in their living rooms, users were interacting with their smartphones, tablets and laptops, engaging with other voters about the results.

According to Sandvine, the two top social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter – also reported a rise in their traffic levels.

Facebook saw traffic increase nearly 30 percent while Twitter's traffic more than doubled on election night.

Election night social networking traffic in North America. Image: Sandvine
In order to build momentum on its Facebook Live video streaming service, Facebook partnered with 50 broadcast stations like ABC, print and online publications on Election Day.

ABC, which used Urban Airship -- a mobile marketing company whose services include sending out push notifications for apps -- delivered 2.5 billion push notifications in the 24 hours surrounding Election Day -- a record volume for the company and a staggering amount for the industry as a whole.

Interestingly, internet usage levels dipped by about 15 percent, which Sandvine said was due to people watching the election results instead of surfing the web.