Will the Royal Wedding Break the Internet?

Whether you’re swept up in monarchical romance or sick of all the People (s twx) magazine coverage, you’re undoubtedly aware of the impending Royal Wedding between Prince William and bride-to-be Kate Middleton on April 29.
In 1981, Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding was watched by 750 million people on television in 74 countries (the most viewed wedding of all time, according to Guinness World Records), and this ceremony could beat that record. British Cultural Secretary Jeremy Hunt is reported as saying he anticipates two billion people watching. And most of that viewing may be done online — a storm of streaming that could bring down networks and sites around the world.
With coverage of the ceremony scheduled to begin as early as 9 a.m. GMT/1 a.m. PDT, time zones may prevent everyone from watching the ceremony from the beginning, but figuring out where to watch the event isn’t hard at all; multiple streams will be available. The official YouTube channel for the British royal family (s GOOG) will be hosting a live stream of the BBC TV feed (without broadcaster commentary).
In addition, there will be many other streams, including one supplied by the AP, that will be seeded across multiple sites with help from video wire service NDN. If you want to live stream the Royal Wedding on your own site, you can do so for a one-time fee of $250. The AP feed is set to last for seven hours, making the event into an all-day affair.
This ease of access, however, does mean potential danger for the networks streaming video. The last live-streamed event of this magnitude, the inauguration of President Obama, sparked “significant traffic jams” according to MSNBC (s cmcsa) (s ge), slowing down government sites and news organizations — and even bringing down NPR.org for a time.
According to Andrew Rubin, CEO of network optimization provider Cymtec, in a small office of 25 people, typically no more than a handful of employees are aggressively using bandwidth for their tasks. But if that number increases dramatically, as it does for live-streamed events, that could dramatically slow down or crash the internal network.
While Rubin believes the time difference will make live stream bottlenecks primarily an East Coast issue, other time zones will be affected as awaking Americans catch up on what they missed via archived video. “No matter what, work is going to be the most convenient place to watch it,” he said. And the variety of locations it can be streamed won’t lessen the load, as its high level of availability will inspire clicks from people who might not have gone looking for a stream.
Rubin’s suggested solution for companies is to give employees permission to watch the event, then do everything possible to centralize viewing, either on television (which will have no impact on networks) or a large PC. “If you flood a network with enough of anything, it can bring it to its knees,” he said.
By taking their ceremony to a networked level, “Will and Kate” are helping to put a new, young and modern face on the British monarchy, one that will be visible on a global level. The question that remains is — will the internet be able to handle it?