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Time to place a bet doubles as online betting sites struggle to deliver optimum performance during Grand National

11th May 2015

It’s been a busy few months on the horse racing scene with The Cheltenham Gold Cup in March and Aintree’s Grand National last month.

This year the Grand National was set to be the biggest betting turnover of all time with 71% of the adult British population expected to place a bet and is the equivalent to the volume of total number of bets across the four-day National Hunt Festival as Cheltenham. So exactly how did top horse racing betting sites cope with this unprecedented demand?

As part of our regular monitoring activity to produce league tables for Betting Business magazine we noticed some surprising performance issues during the Grand National.

There was clear evidence that a number of sites struggled during Grand National day as bets were placed online for this good old British favourite.

  • Average journey delivery time almost doubled in the run up to the race start reaching an average of 21 seconds across all sites at 16:00 on 11th April, compared with a much slicker 11 seconds monthly average for April. Extremely frustrating for online punters looking to place their annual bets.

Grand National journey delivery time

  • Journey delivery times began to slow noticeably from 9am on Saturday 11th April levelling off between 12-1pm for lunch, before ramping until to the race started.
  • Journey availability was also down dropping to an extremely poor 86% across all sites between 15:00- 16:00 on Grand National Day, compared with 98% for the month as a whole.
  • Immediately following the 16.15 journey delivery times dropped back to slightly above normal.

Grand National website availability

  • Availability dropped to 32% in the worst case during the hour that the race started, whilst some sites maintained 100% showing that good user experience is possible even at peak times for sites that are prepared.

Grand National Best Performers

Bet 365, 888 Sport and Bet Victor had the best availability on Grand National Day whilst Bet 365, Sporting Bet and Sky Bet delivered the best page delivery times on the big day.

The thinkTRIBE performance league tables for the whole of April will be available in May’s issue of Betting Business Interactive shortly.

Delivering optimum performance during peak periods

Here are a few tips to ensure that your website is ready to cash in on the next betting bonanza.

  1. Load test critical ‘User Journeys’ Load test around 3 months prior to peak periods so you have time to make the necessary amendments.
  2. Monitor key journeys 24/7 Monitor journeys to understand the user experience delivered to your customers and to identify issues before your customers do and fix them promptly to minimise damage.
  3. Monitor key mobile/multi device journeys Monitor key journeys on the appropriate browser, it’s critical that your site is mobile ready.
  4. Keep journey pages small In this age of mobile, web performance optimisation is critical. Check your monitoring for oversized pages; ensure images are optimised, Java Script and CSS is minified and also consider deferred loading.
  5. Optimise the entire journey Optimising one page at a time may not result in the best speed improvement across the entire journey.

Further Reading

Predicting next years website traffic – and Load testing realism