Editor’s Note: Grand Slam Tennis tournaments are among the sport’s most anticipated events annually, with millions of fans globally now streaming the live or catch-up TV action on their favorite mobile devices in addition to those watching on TVs. The Australian Open kicked off the action in Melbourne in January. It will be followed by the French Open this May (Roland Garros in Paris), Wimbledon in July (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London), and the US Open in August (Flushing Meadow, New York). Read on for insights into how Australia’s Channel Seven redefined the tennis fan’s viewing experience.
One of four Grand Slam tennis championships, the Australian Open is among the country’s most-watched sporting events. In January, leading Australian broadcaster Seven Network unlocked the Open experience to viewers. Serving up every match live with the launch of pioneering freemium OTT live sports offering, with viewers streaming over 64 million minutes live. Seven partnered with Elemental and Amazon Web Services for a complete live end-to-end workflow and a first-of-its-kind integration between Elemental and AWS.
The Australian Open culminated Seven’s month-long Summer of Tennis showcase of broadcast and streaming live tennis across six national tournaments. Giving fans unfettered access, with up to 16 live matches at once and extensive Video on Demand. In addition to Seven’s terrestrial broadcasts, 7Tennis product provided viewers live and on-demand content at no cost, available on key platforms - Web, iOS, Android, TVOS, Telstra TV and FetchTV. Additionally, 7Tennis offered a $9.99 AUD premium option for fans to upgrade their viewing experience. With High Definition (1080P), full-match replays and faster access to streams without pre-roll advertising.
Delivering such an ambitious multi-screen video experience with maximum resiliency and consistent high quality - called for an innovative, software-based approach to live video processing and content delivery.
On-premises Elemental Live encoders, in a portable rack kit with full redundancy, streamed 16 court streams from Seven’s Melbourne Park production. Elemental Live encoders also inserted Video Advertising SCTE triggers for downstream Dynamic Advertising Insertion (DAI) with partner Yospace, as well as video slates, effectively creating 16 TV channels in addition to Broadcast.
Delivering 1080P high quality video reliably at scale, required redundant Amazon Direct Connect networks to an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) hosted on AWS. The VPC hosted a scalable origin architecture using NGINX web servers for delivery over Amazon Cloudfront CDN. In Seven’s Broadcast centre, Elemental Conductor orchestrated Broadcast simulcast 24x7 streaming encoding with the network’s existing Elemental Live headend and Akamai CDN.
The new live content delivery model was a smashing success for Seven. Moreover, the Open set a new benchmark for the network’s live streaming capabilities, proving the value of Elemental and AWS to support expanded user experiences – and help monetise premium viewership – as Seven looks ahead to a remarkable slate of live sports events including the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, thoroughbred racing’s Melbourne Cup, the 2018 Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
Authored by Nancy Garcia, Community and Diversity Program Manager at Elemental, and Chris Brown, Executive Vice President, Conventions and Business Operations at the NAB Show
The media and entertainment industry’s opportunities to improve its diversity and inclusion (D&I) have come into sharper focus in recent years, thanks in no small part to the efforts of industry advocacy groups as well as observers, such as UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, which measure the makeup of our industry and propose paths to improvement.
One of the reasons our industry is so closely watched on this issue is also one of the main reasons it’s so gratifying to be a member of this community: simply put, the media and entertainment industry has a profound influence on the cultures that it serves. This influence means every gain the industry makes in matters of diversity and inclusion has the real potential to reverberate through society in ways large and small, while at the same time, making our companies richer, stronger and more competitive. That’s a power we all enjoy; and with it, as they say, comes great responsibility.
We’re excited about the momentum we’ve observed in addressing D&I within the media and entertainment companies we connect with. We see organizations large and small making a serious commitment to diversity and inclusion and taking meaningful steps to improve from within. Among the most fundamental actions companies are taking as part of their D&I initiatives: Company-wide educational efforts that support a more inclusive, aware and culturally responsive workplace. Employee development programs that help unleash every worker’s growth potential and support their long-term success. And implementing formal hiring practices and programs that ensure outreach to and provide opportunities for people from underrepresented communities.
These and other company-focused efforts present a number of paths that we as individuals can take to support and champion D&I within our own organizations. Beyond that, there are things we can best accomplish by coming together as an industry community, not only by creating awareness and inspiration for the work that needs to be done, but by generating funding and support for organizations that focus their expertise and resources on helping underrepresented communities succeed.
This is the valuable role that events like the 4K 4Charity Fun Run at the 2017 NAB Show play to support D&I in our industry. We’re grateful to see our industry is forward thinking in action as prominent industry leaders step up such as HBO, Comcast Technology Solutions and The Weather Company, an IBM Business.
Support for increased diversity and inclusion and the 4K 4Charity Fun Run is also driven by leaders including Aspera, an IBM company, Nokia, Verimatrix, Dolby Laboratories, Accedo, Brightcove, Broadstream, Irdeto, ChyronHego, Tektronix, Sports Video Group and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), as well as media partners NewBay Media and Rapid TV News.
The generosity of our sponsors and participants will benefit Mercy Corps and Women Who Code in their charitable work protecting, educating and inspiring underserved communities around the world. With 100 percent of individual registrants’ contributions dedicated to these worthy orgnizations, we hope you’ll extend your support to this vital cause.
You can take action by signing up today to join your fellow professionals for a fun and energizing experience in support of this important cause. And why not invite your colleagues and co-workers to join you in a corporate team or as part of a Fun Run challenge? We’d love to discuss sponsorships or corporate matching gifts with your company’s community investment or D&I initiative team as well. For more information about the run or to learn more about supporting as a sponsor or group, please reach out to Kate Incerto, 4K 4Charity Fun Run manager. We hope to see you on the course and appreciate your support for a more diverse, more inclusive industry.
Globo.com provides digital platforms and services for Brazil’s Grupo Globo, connecting online audiences to a vast portfolio of content and services including Globo TV’s broadcast networks, film studio Globo Filmes and over-the-top television service Globo Play. As part of its mission, Globo.com provides video-on-demand (VOD) services for programs produced by more than 100 TV affiliates across the country. Recently, Globo made the strategic business decision to develop a subscription-based 4K VOD service and turned to Elemental, its long-time source for video processing solutions, to power the deployment.
Prior to developing the 4K service, Globo.com conducted extensive market research, including monitoring the types of viewing devices connected to its video services. It identified a significant number of devices in use, particularly smart televisions, capable of displaying 4K video, while underscoring consumers’ expectations for enhanced picture quality from 4K services.
Informed by its findings, Globo.com built the plan to develop and launch its 4K VOD service. Transcoding speed and video quality were among its top requirements. Speed is critical to Globo.com not only in terms of fast time-to-market for its new service, but in its ability to quickly process great volumes of content as it continuously builds a library of 4K streaming video from its vast number of sources. At such a high resolution, superior video quality is clearly of fundamental importance to the viewing experience of its audiences across Brazil.
According to Igor Macaubas, product manager, online video platform of Globo.com, “The system integration advantages of choosing Elemental were very important in launching our new service quickly, but our main concern was that we achieve the exceptional image quality our viewers expect from 4K video while getting our content to market as quickly as possible. Elemental once again proved it could deliver. We’ve trusted Elemental for many years and its ability to stay ahead of the consumer technology curve while maintaining interoperability and ease of deployment continues to impress.”
Software-defined video solutions from Elemental are uniquely well-equipped to meet Globo.com’s stringent requirements to implement the 4K HEVC codec in multiple bitrates. HEVC is powerful, delivering highly efficient video compression that makes online delivery of 4K content practical. HEVC is also computationally intensive, requiring the development of complex algorithms to achieve its superior compression ratios. Elemental’s HEVC solutions allow advanced video encoding to be implemented in dedicated appliances, virtualized in a data center or hosted in the cloud, whether supporting real-time streaming or batch-processed encoding.
The Globo.com 4K VOD service is slated to go live in February 2017, and will offer a rich library of 4K content.