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.