EE and ITV data shows football watching is coming home

EE reported sharp drop in broadband traffic when World Cup matches are on, while ITV registered the highest viewership on England’s match against Colombia.

The ongoing FIFA World Cup is pulling users away from the internet and pushing them back in front of the television, it seems. If they have to go outdoors while the match is on, then people switch to live streaming on mobile. The chart below shows how viewers followed the matches on Tuesday 03 July:

How fans watched England's win on the EE network

A few factors may have contributed to the lower traffic registered during the Sweden vs. Switzerland match: it was still office hours therefore fewer people were out in the street; when streaming indoor the traffic would more likely go through Wi-Fi; and the relatively weaker following by the general public.

When the England vs. Colombia match was played, a World Cup record of 23.6 million watched it on ITV at home (the number of those watching in pubs are not available). The mobile traffic pattern also followed closely the progress of the match: peaks at the beginning of the match and the penalty shootout, canyons at half time, 90 minutes, then off the cliff after the last penalty was kicked (and scored).

An interesting data point is that around 1/5 of viewers watched the ITV live streaming through the Sky Go aggregator, despite that ITV Hub is free to all, as is the BBC iPlayer.

Equally interesting is the next chart, which shows mobile users’ behaviours when they moved away from live streaming. They went on social networks:

Fans turn off live streams and take to social during half time

An eye-catching anomaly on the chart is that, right after the match was finished, the traffic generated by Snapchat overtook that by Facebook. As Snap users tend to be younger, this may serve as a reminder to Facebook that it may not be the default platform by the next generation internet users when they share their feelings.

Now the nation is increasingly excited with England in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, the match against Sweden, played next Saturday, will almost guarantee to generate higher mobile traffic and viewership, this time on the BBC.

EE allows parents to bestow the gift of data

In a move disturbingly in keeping with the times EE has launched a new service that allows subscribers to give their kids just what they’ve always wanted.

Gone are the days when junior might have asked for a new bike or a train set or some other wholesomely analogue toy. It’s all about data these days and EE knows it, so it has launched what it claims is the UK’s first data gifting service.

It fundamentally seems to be a tweak to the concept of a ‘family plan’ in which everyone has their own basic data allowance but if junior has been hitting YouTube hard on the way home from school and anyone else in the family has a surplus they can recycle their data in a show of digital benevolence.

This seems to be a good compromise towards totally shared data buckets, which run the risk of careless streaming leaving the whole family data-less until the end of the month. The transfer is done through the EE app and, judging by the images above, is pretty straightforward.

On top of that the app is being given a bunch more controls that are designed to enable parents to keep an eye on their kids’ device and data usage and include the following features:

  • Switch their child’s data usage on or off
  • Allow or prevent their child using their mobile phone allowance abroad
  • Restrict or allow international and premium rate calls
  • Set what content access their child has while browsing on the go

“Data gifting with EE helps families to get the most from their allowances by being able to move their mobile data around their smartphones, with easy to use parental controls,” said EE Marketing MD, Max Taylor. “So now mum and dad can turn their data into digital pocket money and reward the kids for good behaviour, or reduce the amount they are using, all without having to spend a penny more.”

Call us old fuddy-duddies if you will but there is something slightly disturbing about using data as the basis for parental Pavlovian reward systems, as it seems to present staring at a screen as the ultimate youthful aspiration. Having said that the genie is definitely already out of the bottle when it comes to kids and devices so maybe we should just resign ourselves to it, just as EE apparently has.

European LTE data roaming increased by 800% in 2017

Mobile data services outfit BICS has published its data for 2017 and it reveals some interesting trends in LTE consumption.

The most dramatic data point is an 800% year-on-year increase in LTE data roaming traffic in the EU, apparently driven by the ‘roam like at home’ abolition of roaming charges between EU countries. Furthermore BICS reckons a significant minority of people still haven’t taken advantage of this opportunity so it expects a further increase this year.

The bigger picture revealed an annual doubling of global LTE traffic thanks partly to more operators getting the LTE memo, but presumably also to the underlying trends of mobile video streaming, more generous tariffs, etc. Africa seems to be getting up to speed with LTE too.

“As infrastructure improves and populations and workforces become more globalised, we’ll see an even greater number of operators across the world offering LTE roaming to ensure they stay relevant and competitive,” said Mikaël Schachne, VP of Mobility Solutions at BICS.

“Roam like at home has upped consumer expectations for high quality, affordable roaming services, wherever they travel. Operators in other regions will therefore look to emulate a similar situation this year by banding together to offer better packages to subscribers while optimising traffic flow and cost efficiencies at the back-end.

“Finally, over the coming year we expect LTE roaming traffic to be impacted by the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a focus on IPX signalling security – and compliance – as well as the overall decrease of data rates.”

It goes without saying that the BICS release also featured lots of commentary on how great BICS is, how well it’s positioned to facilitate all this lovely roaming, etc. With LTE still in such a rapid growth phase all the hype around 5G is put very firmly in perspective. There is clearly plenty to be done with 4G before we go up one more.