Space Jam

The iconic 1996 "Space Jam" website was recently relaunched to promote the new movie. Thankfully, the developers still kept the old site around to preserve its intergalactic legacy.

It’s not often that a website stays up mostly unchanged for 25 years. So out of curiosity, I ran a quick check on both sites.

Unsurprisingly, the new site is a lot heavier than the original: with 4.673KB vs. 120KB, the new site is about 39 times the size of the old one. That’s because the new site has a trailer video, high-res images and a lot more Javascript:

byte size comparison of the 1996 and 2021 space jam websites
The new site has gained some weight

This is keeping with the general trend of websites growing heavier every year, with the average site weighing in at around 1.900KB now.

But since our connection speeds and device capabilities are significantly better now - that’s fine. Everything is way faster now than it was back in the days of Michael Jordan’s first Looney Tunes adventure.

Is it though? Let’s find out.

Party like it’s 1996

1996 was a different time. The Spice Girl’s “Wannabe” was in anti-shock discmans everywhere, and the most common network connection was 56k dial-up modems. So of course the original developers had a smaller performance budget to work with, and the site is much lighter. Fair enough - so how long did it take to load the original Space Jam site back then?

I ran a webpagetest with a simulated '96 connection: dial-up on an average desktop computer. Dial-up had a maximum speed of 56 kbit/s, but in reality it came in at something around 40-50 kbit/s.

Here’s how that looked (fire up the dial-up noise in another tab for the full experience):

Test Summary | Film Strip View

We can see the first content (the “press box shuttle” menu item) after 4 seconds. The other menu items -all separate GIF images- come in slowly after that. Since the HTML renders as soon as it is parsed, you could theoretically already click on the items before the rest of the page has finished though. The whole site is done after 28.1 seconds in this test.

Back to the Future: 2021

Now let’s look at the current, futuristic state of the web. Luckily we don’t use dial-up anymore. The most common connection these days is a mobile 3G network, and the most common device is an Android phone (a Moto G4 in this test). A typical 3G connection comes in at around 1.5 Mbp/s, so it is roughly 30 times faster than dial-up. This shouldn’t take long:

Test Summary | Film Strip View

Funnily enough, the first meaningful paint also shows up after about 4 seconds. It’s not actual content though, it’s the loading screen, informing us that we’ve now loaded 0% of the site.

We reach 100% at 12 seconds, but the first real piece of content is not rendered until 21.5 seconds: it’s a youtube video in a modal window. The site is finally ready after 26.8 seconds, although actually playing the video would take some more loading time.

Results

Right. So after 25 years of technological progress, after bringing 4.7 billion people in the world online, after we just landed a fifth robot on Mars, visiting the Space Jam website is now 1.3 seconds faster. That seems… underwhelming.

__

I know that this is just a movie promo site. And of course the requirements for a website are different now - people expect rich content. But I think this speaks to a larger point:

Although connection speeds and devices keep getting better and better, the web is actually getting slower. We see the increasing bandwidth as an invitation to use more and more stuff in our websites. More images, more videos, more JavaScript.

We just keep filling the available space, jamming up the pipes in the process so nothing actually gets faster. Well, at least the dial-up sound is gone now.

Webmentions

What’s this?
  1. WebPerf / WPO Tips
    🔖 The famous "Space Jam" website from 1996 compared with its new relaunched version from the #webperformance point of view. Blogpost written by @mxbck: 🔗 mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/ #webperf #pagespeed
  2. Manuel Matuzović
    “Although connection speeds and devices keep getting better and better, the web is actually getting slower. We see the increasing bandwidth as an invitation to use more and more stuff in our websites. More images, more videos, more JavaScript.”
  3. HJ Chen
    "We just keep filling the available space, jamming up the pipes in the process so nothing actually gets faster." #webdev
  4. Hidde
    ‘intergalactic legacy’
  5. Barry Pollard
    Although connection speeds and devices keep getting better... We just keep filling the available space, jamming up the pipes in the process so nothing actually gets faster. Well, at least the dial-up sound is gone now.
Show All Webmentions (43)
  1. Max Böck
    ha, nice! even kept the <center> and the layout table 😅
  2. Nass.js 🚀
    New and old Space Jam website performance comparison 🚀 mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  3. some thoughts on your thoughts :) In 1996, it's pretty safe to assume that everyone had a 56k connection on a desktop pc in their home, but today devices and connections can vary much more.
  4. Please read this article and engage with the video content inside of it. The full time to consume this article should be about 6 minutes. This matters to me a lot, and is very important to me that people know about it. mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  5. Carsten Bach
    Ich kann @mxbck absolut verstehen, wenn er von 25 Jahren Web mehr erwartet hätte. Mehr, als nur mehr Bilder, mehr Videos und mehr Javascript. mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  6. Jecelyn Yeen
    "Although connection speeds and devices keep getting better and better, the web is actually getting slower. We see the increasing bandwidth as an invitation to use more and more stuff in our websites. More images, more videos, more JavaScript."
  7. Matthias Ott
    “So after 25 years of technological progress, after bringing 4.7 billion people in the world online, after we just landed a fifth robot on Mars, visiting the Space Jam website is now 1.3 seconds faster.” @mxbck did some performance forensics: mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  8. Mantish
    "So after 25 years of technological progress ... visiting the Space Jam website is now 1.3 seconds faster" mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  9. Yoav Ganbar
    25 years later with a speed increase of 1.3 seconds. The Space jam website revisited. Nice write up @mxbck 👍🏽
  10. Tom Hermans🤘
    Technology is getting faster, the web is getting slower. Space Jam comparison '96 VS 2021
  11. Seth Marinello
    Is nothing sacred? mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  12. Bruce Lawson
    SPACE JAM: "Although connection speeds and devices keep getting better and better, the web is actually getting slower. We see the increasing bandwidth as an invitation to use more and more stuff in our websites. More images, more videos, more JavaScript." mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  13. Stuart Robson
  14. Benjamin Schwartz
    The worst type of sequel is the one that destroys your ability to enjoy the original ever again.
  15. Brian Perry
    Huge advancements in the web, but we were only able to make the Space Jam website 1.5 seconds faster. Lol.
  16. Ksusha
    It’s certainly worth noting that the Space Jam website, which made its way into umpteen conference talks for being fabulous evidence of the web’s strength in backward compatibility, has been replaced. We could have saw that coming. Everything is... mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  17. Eric W Odom
    Everything is way faster now than it was back in the days of Michael Jordan’s first Looney Tunes adventure. Is it though? Let’s find out. --- A fun dive into web design history, pop culture, and the internet. Excellent insight by ⁦@mxbckmxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  18. kyoh8
    面白い。25年前とファイルサイズは40倍になったけど表示されるまでの速さは変わってないという話(対象が3Gなのはあれだけど) mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  19. Mark McDonald
    Web developers, this needs to be read (and shared) 👇
  20. Hasheem M.
    "Although connection speeds and devices keep getting better and better, the web is actually getting slower. We see the increasing bandwidth as an invitation to use more and more stuff on our websites..." - @mxbck: 🔗 mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/ #webdev
  21. Jonas Rebmann
    Traurig, wie mies die neue SpaceJam 2 Website ist, vor allem im Vergleich zu seinem historischen Vorgänger. mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  22. Alan
    From the article: 👀 "So after 25 years of technological progress, after bringing 4.7 billion people in the world online, after we just landed a fifth robot on Mars, visiting the #SpaceJam website is now 1.3 seconds faster. That seems… underwhelming." 😆
  23. FullStack Bulletin
    Space Jam new vs old performance comparison mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  24. [mastodon] ~/
    The web before and now mxb.dev/blog/space-jam #spaceJam #web
  25. Friday Front-End
    Space Jam: "The iconic 1996 'Space Jam' website was recently relaunched to promote the new movie. I ran a quick check comparing them, and unsurprisingly, the new site is about 39 times the size of the old one." by @mxbck mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  26. Pablo Lara H
    Space Jam by Max Böck @mxbck "Although connection speeds and devices keep getting better and better, the web is actually getting slower." #web #webperf mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/
  27. Duncan Mackenzie
    "The most common connection these days is a mobile 3G network, and the most common device is an Android phone (a Moto G4 in this test)." From: mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/ Do you test your site for that? Or do you assume that you're a typical user?
  28. adam
    "I'm running a speed test on the new Space Jam site: the 1996 version on dial-up VS. the 2021 version on a 3G connection. Who will win?" | mxb.dev/blog/space-jam/ | @mxbck this is great!