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Sporting events drive 2023’s biggest daily spikes in European and US network traffic

Analysis from leading internet exchange operator reveals 23% rise in global data traffic in 2023 to 59 exabytes, showing clear seasonal impact of gaming and video conferencing

Online coverage of UEFA Champions League and NFL games caused the biggest spikes in web traffic in Europe and the US last year, according to network traffic analysis from internet exchange operator DE-CIX.

DE-CIX calculates that global traffic across its platforms increased by 23% compared with 2022, with 59EB (exabytes) of data flowing across its internet exchanges throughout the year. The volume has nearly doubled since 2020 (32EB), with the equivalent of 54 million hours of video streamed every day across DE-CIX networks – that’s 19.6 billion hours of video in 2023.

According to DE-CIX, use varied significantly, with gaming in exceptionally high demand at the beginning of the year and video conferencing, which found regular usage in spring and late summer, plummeting during vacation months.

Looking regionally, the busiest day for internet traffic in Europe was 8 November – the fourth match day in the Champions League, which saw action from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester United, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven.

In addition, a number of peak traffic records were set in the US over the course of 2023, where the company runs five internet exchanges in New York, Chicago, Richmond, Phoenix and Dallas. A new record was set on 21 January 2024, when the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in the NFL play-offs, with data rates from DE-CIX’s Dallas exchange exceeding 1Tbps (terabit per second) for the first time. A surge also followed the games on 28 January when the San Francisco 49s and the Chiefs secured their places in Super Bowl LVIII.

Data throughput at peak times at the firm’s New York base increased by around 22% to 1.61Tbps, compared with January 2023. This trend was also visible at DE-CIX Dallas (peak: 1.01Tbps, +61%), DE-CIX Madrid (peak: 1.54Tbps, +44%), and DE-CIX Mumbai (peak: 1.48Tbps, +32%).

The trend was also reflected in other regions where the company is active. For example, in 2023, data traffic amounted to around 3.1EB in Southern Europe, 5.7EB in India, and 6.4EB in North America.

“Whether for emails, artificial intelligence, data-based products, the immersive internet, or the transmission of global sports highlights, the fast and secure connections at DE-CIX internet exchanges are essential for our digital daily lives,” said DE-CIX CEO Ivo Ivanov, commenting on the traffic details. “Our internet exchanges not only connect people and societies worldwide, but also bring individual companies and entire economies together to do business.” 

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