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Streaming Media East: UFC's DIY Approach

Whether you're talking about NBC or Major League Baseball, most video content owners have a middleman to work out the problem of distribution. But the UFC does it all in-house, which means it has had to build a workflow from scratch.

This presents a number of problems, such as closed captioning and metadata in a huge number of languages for its global audience. But one big challenge the company is tackling now is turning around content more quickly in order to feed the demands of social media.

Christy King, VP of digital and technology R&D for UFC, says that the typical video has a shelf-life of 90 minutes, and if it takes you 36 hours (which is often the best-case scenario for UFC) to turn around a clip you'll miss your window to engage the social audience. But that's not the only challenge that the UFC is facing on the social front. Increasingly, the social media conversation that surrounds a piece of video or an event is being treated as a sort of metadata. And when the UFC distributes video of a match to a third party, that third party wants to be able to replay the social media conversation alongside the video.

King says that the UFC is turning to the cloud to help solve many of these new challenges. From very basic issues like storing lots of hardware at the UFC's very hot desert offices in Las Vegas to cutting down the production turnaround time through live ingestion and logging in the cloud, pushing these functions outside of the company firewall is starting to look like the answer. In such an event-driven business, King says it makes sense to "pop a lot of expanded jobs to the cloud" rather than keep enough hardware onsite to handle the increased demand on live event days.

The UFC has solved some of the other distribution issues it faces through automation. For instance, metadata for a video can be pulled directly from the company's CMS because often the first time that information appears is on its site. So rather than require staff to perform that redundant task in order to fulfill a request, it's been automated.

Of course, if you choose to do it all yourself, there is perhaps one lesson to take away from King and the UFC's experience: Your job is never done. There will always be a new device or a new platform to consider.

Watch the full video below and download King's presentation.


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