World Cup Soccer Matches Score Big on Internet

The two World Cup soccer matches on Thursday in the so-called Group of Death bracket that includes the U.S. gobbled up more Internet bandwidth than any other live sporting event, said Akamai Technologies Inc.

The two games--the U.S. versus Germany and Portugal versus Ghana--drew more than six terabits of data per second, suggesting more than 3.5 million viewers tuned in over the Internet at the same time, according to Akamai, which distributes video over the Internet on behalf of most of the broadcasters with rights to the FIFA world soccer governing body's feed.

"People's access to television was really limited, and they were accessing it from work," said Bill Wheaton, head of Akamai's media division. That meant many caught the game on a computer or even a smartphone, sometimes streaming both at the same time.

More than a third of that streaming traffic went to North America, Mr. Wheaton said, and about a quarter of the traffic went to mobile devices.

It is hard to translate the figure into a certain number of viewers because fans' streams ranged widely quality-wise, from high-definition feeds for big screens to grainy clips for phones.

Still, Thursday's games beat out other major events that happened during the U.S. workday, including this year's Sochi Olympics and the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The U.S. lost 1-0 to Germany but still advanced into the tournament's round of 16.