Traffic Numbers Behind the Rockies Ticket Site Crash

I have to start this post with a shout-out to the Boston Red Sox, the 2007 World Series Champions. As a Bostonian myself and the sister and sister-in-law of Denverites, this year’s World Series was the center of a pretty heated family feud. I am glad to report that the better team came out victorious.

Like nearly every other Denverite, my siblings were hoping to score coveted tickets to one of the World Series game played at Coors Field. As the dutiful sister I am, I (and everyone else in the world) attempted to log on to coloradorockies.com on Monday, October 22 as soon as tickets were released. Despite my hour long efforts, I was unable to connect to the Rockies’ servers. I am sure I looked something like the frustrated fan to the right.

Not surprisingly, the Rockies released a statement later that day indicating sales were suspended due to a system crash that prevented the site pages from loading. The FBI is currently looking into allegations that system failure was actually a result of an "external, malicious attack" on the servers. Despite this set back, they set up shop again the next day and successfully sold all of the remaining tickets within 2 ½ hours. I was still unable to connect to the Rockies’ server the next day, but apparently thousands of other people were.

So what kind of traffic was necessary to take down the Rockies sales site? I examined traffic to colorado.rockies.mlb.com as well as the Californian based evenue.net, the ticketing web site used for sale transactions.

To put the level of traffic to the Rockies’ site on October 22 into perspective, I looked at total traffic to mlb.com as well as the subdomains traffic for the 4 ALCS and NLCS teams. The above graphs show the share of page views and time spent for these 5 segments. For both these metrics, the Rockies’ site contributed about half the total daily traffic to mlb.com.

While the Rockies represented a substantial portion of the mlb.com pie through the playoffs, the traffic to their site on October 22 and 23 was exceedingly high. The following graph shows the Rockies’ daily share of mlb.com traffic for the entire post session.

There is no question that millions, of people were trying to buy Rockies tickets on line. So how did that translate into traffic for evenue.net? Here is a similar time series of metrics for the evenue.net’s daily share of total internet traffic for the month of October.

Notice the large jump in traffic on the 22nd followed by the even larger jump on the 23rd when fans were actually successful in connecting with the web server. While I am not an FBI agent, nor do I play one on TV, it is suspicious that the evenue.net servers would be able to process the large volume of hits on the 23rd, but not the smaller volume the day before. It is also interesting to note that since the Compete panel is comprised of consumers’ clicks and does not include spider or bot activity, we did not pick up the 8.5 million reported hits on October 22. Conclusive evidence of an "external, malicious attack"? I think not. Food for thought? Definitely.

About Debra Miller Arbesman:
Debra Miller Arbesman is senior associate, retailer and consumer products at Compete, a Kantar Media company that helps brands improve their marketing based on the online behavior of millions of consumers.

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