America's Cup interest pushes Nzoom to the edge

Nzoom's network capacity underwent a serious test yesterday as Kiwis flocked to its website to monitor race three of the America's Cup.

Nzoom's network capacity underwent a serious test yesterday as Kiwis flocked to its website to monitor race three of the America's Cup.

The first two races, which saw Team New Zealand down 2-0 to Alinghi, played out over the weekend and yesterday was the first working day of the cup regatta.

Nzoom, TVNZ's online portal, is carrying all racing live in text-based form, however such was the demand for the service that executive producer Glyn Jones downgraded the front page to a "lightweight emergency page" yesterday.

"We have that as the front page of One Sport at the moment and I've just made the front page of Nzoom as well. Users only want to see one story at the moment," he said yesterday afternoon.

The downgraded page on Nzoom consisted of as little bandwidth-intensive information as possible.

"It's a text-based page with a small image and links to the rest of the site. We're updating as frequently as we can."

Nzoom has experience of tremendous server load when a story breaks - Jones says they're putting that experience to the test.

"We're absolutely at the limit. We know how much capacity we've got and we're right at the edge now."

Virtual Spectator, which provides the real-time 3D graphical coverage of the yachting, had a boom day as well, according to the general manager of marketing, Jack Ralston.

"I would say we've got about 75% of those registered with us logged on at the moment," he said yesterday.

Ralston says the last week saw a lot of interest from Australia - where for the first time television is not covering the race live.

"We've had thousands join from Australia in the last week alone."

Mobile devices running Virtual Spectator software are also in high demand. Chris Thompson, marketing manager at ISP Xtra, spent the day on the water watching the yachting live but also on TV and on a laptop.

"Someone here's got Mobile JetStream so we're watching the Virtual Spectator during the ads." An Xtra spokesperson says the Team New Zealand website is receiving tens of thousands of unique visitors each day. "In December we received 70,000 visitors. In January that was 100,000. For the first week of February it's up to 50,000 already and on specific days when things are happening that's up to between 20,000 and 40,000."

Problems dogged New Zealand Herald publisher Wilson & Horton during the day, however the general manager of the interactive division, Mark Ottoway, says the problem was not due to excess traffic to the site.

"It was a server failure, not related to traffic."

TelstraClear's network isn't being unduly affected by the traffic, according to public affairs manager Mathew Bolland.

"We had a bigger peak last week for some reason."

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