Cloud is the Perfect Disaster Recovery Solution for Live Sports Events

Blackout screen during a match.

Can you name a single live television show that has the same power of drawing people together like sports events?

When a major sports tournament takes place, billions of viewers across the world are watching intently on their TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets.

OTT streaming is ubiquitous today, and it has opened up a whole new world of revenue opportunities for video content and service providers. Amazon and Facebook have expressed interest in streaming live sports, and ESPN recently launched a new OTT service in collaboration with Twitter.

Why?

Because live sports draw in big crowds of viewers, and that means more advertising dollars.

But before getting too excited, you should know streaming live sports can be quite challenging. Content rights are expensive, sports fans expect a high quality of experience (QoE) and securing a live event through reliable disaster recovery is important.

In the past, service providers have relied on traditional on-premises infrastructure with a disaster recovery headend for resiliency purposes during live streaming events. The problem with that approach is the significant investment required. Service providers can’t afford the costs involved for an event that is only going to last a few days.

So what’s the solution?

A combination of software-based media processing on-premises with disaster recovery on the public cloud via software as a service (SaaS) is proving to be resilient and cost-effective for live sports streaming. Running media processing on-premises and disaster recovery simultaneously in the public cloud, content providers can cover major sports events, with superior QoE delivered to viewers across all screens at minimum cost.

One of the biggest advantages of the cloud is scalability. Content providers can scale up and down dynamically, which comes in handy for quickly launching occasional or temporary channels that cover sports events. Moreover, the economics of delivering sports events are improved drastically with cloud media processing, which are based on usage and subscription models. Service providers only pay for what they use. Content monetization comes easy because content and service providers can create channel variants quickly and cost-effectively. Content can be customized to include specific branding (e.g., graphics and digital video effects), blackout or content replacement based upon content rights.

This exact setup —media processing on-premises and disaster recovery running at the same time in the public cloud — was recently used by one of our customers (a tier-1 telco operator in North America) for the Super Bowl.

A few days before the big event, the operator cloned its on-premises media processing application in the public cloud — we’re talking about a total of more than 190 channel variants, each with its own channel branding, blackout management and ad placement. By duplicating those channel variants in the public cloud for the duration of the Super Bowl weekend, the operator was able to successfully deploy a full disaster recovery solution that scaled and sustained peak hour traffic, with 100 percent service uptime, at minimum cost.

This type of hybrid on-premises and public cloud solution has also been deployed by a number of leading content and service providers for major sports events.

Learn more about Harmonic’s VOS™ cloud media processing family and its benefits for live sports applications, here.

– Olivier Karra, Director, OTT & IPTV Solutions, Harmonic

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