How to Scale Live Streaming Architecture
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Dom Robinson: What are the scaling challenges in live? I'm going to go back to Darren for the infrastructure challenges first of all. But then I think we can build on that on the production side. So Darren, talk to us about what the challenges are for infrastructure scaling.
Darren Lepke: So I'd say the biggest question has been, can we see television-size audiences, cable-size audiences online? Can we make that transition? Can we really fully move things away from traditional television? And I'd say 15, 20 years into the live streaming industry--at least from an infrastructure perspective--we're definitely there where, on a regular basis, we're seeing up to tens of millions of viewers in live events and having a fairly successful delivery of those large events. So I would say five years ago, we were maybe seeing some challenges at the distribution end, maybe the downstream piece where we're trying to deliver across last-mile networks and seeing congestion there. I think those have largely been solved.
Right now, we still hear about the occasional event that falls over, or has the issue refunds, or something happens. Generally, those bottlenecks are around things like payments, signing up for the event, a last-minute flood of people rushing into pay their $50 to watch the boxing match. And the reality is, with a little bit of preparation and a little bit of rigor in your planning, those things are usually predictable and solvable if you have plans for disaster recovery, It was interesting to see the world of the internet aspiring to be like television, like broadcast. And I think in the early days we saw some of the downsides of that in that it wasn't always rigorously planned, but now we're seeing the broadcasters come into the world of the internet and bringing some of that rigor that you see from traditional television.
So, for example, when we streamed the Super Bowl for Fox Sports, over a year of planning went into that to look at every single point along the distribution chain, from the stadium to the cloud to the user, and for each one of those steps, they had a plan. There was no single point of failure. There was redundancy for everything. There were runbooks to execute if they saw even the slightest sign of something happening.
And obviously, that's the Super Bowl. You're not going to get that with every single event. But we do see that, given the current state of the internet and the infrastructure, given the rigor that's being brought into the space, these questions of can we scale to extremely large audiences, will fade to the background. And I think we'll start to seem ore questions along the lines of how do you attract that size of audience, or how do you keep them there, keep them engaged, and really optimize revenue for your event.
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