The Madness begins: Week 1 recap of NCAA website performance

After week one of the NCAA tournament, college basketball fans across the country are pondering whether Duke can rebound after its near-loss this past weekend to make it to the Big Dance and defend their 2010 title. We’re wondering, though, if the sports sites covering the games can extend the solid performance they displayed last year, allowing fans to watch games and check scores quickly.

With two rounds of the tourney already complete, the NCAA’s March Madness On Demand site is looking more and more like the favorite, delivering blazing 2.12 response times and 99.88 percent availability. Response times are well below the average displayed by all the sites being monitored (8.14 seconds), and superior to the average availability (99.65 percent) as well.

Given the increasingly sophisticated capabilities of tablets and other mobile devices, we decided this year to monitor the performance of a few websites on two of the most popular devices — the iPad and iPhone — over the AT&T wireless network from two locations. Sites were tested at five minute intervals. Here are the results.

On the iPhone, the average response time of the four sites monitored was 12.51 seconds, and average availability was 98.54 percent. ESPN.com received top marks with a 9.72 second average response time and 99.16 percent availability. CBSSports.com came in a close second.

The Web experience on the iPad was a little slower, but also a little more reliable. Average response time on this device was 13.53 seconds, and average availability was recorded at 98.71 percent. CBSSports.com won this round with an average response time of 11.07 seconds and 99.44 percent availability.

The higher response times of websites accessed on mobile devices, begs the question: How long will you wait for a mobile website to load? Are your standards for speed less than they are for standard websites?

And one more: Can Duke pull off back-to-back victories?