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Scale Up to the Future of Live Streaming at Streaming Media East 2022

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"What does it mean to deliver reliable live streams at scale?” asked Hulu VP of Software Development Nick Brookins at a recent Streaming Media event. “‘Delivery’ immediately makes you think of the CDN, but you really have to go back all the way to ingest to consider everything that makes this work. You need to measure availability and reliability. You need to monitor average bit rate, because if you're delivering streams under the level of quality or functionality that your users expect, they're still not going to be happy. All of this needs to come together, and scale is the really tricky part, because it's always way easier to do something for one user or a hundred users than it is for hundreds of thousands of users or millions of users. Expectations are always rising, so a level of buffering or reliability that might have been acceptable five years ago isn’t acceptable now.”

And when it comes to streaming at scale, failure is not an option.

Two years into the pandemic era, when streaming has often been the only game in town, and when on-site events have returned in many cases as hybrid offerings that must be streamed, the streaming-at-scale genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back in. So how are content providers, event producers, and streaming pros to respond to escalating demand and rising expectations for large-scale streams, and adapt to shifts and advances in the enabling technologies of live production and delivery that have followed the increased demand?

To help you manage the current and emerging challenges of live streaming at scale, Streaming Media East 2022–making its long-awaited return May 24-25, live and in-person, at Boston’s Westin Copley Place–features a jam-packed Live Streaming at Scale track. These seven sessions and panels offer how-to’s and best practices to make sure your live events go off without a hitch, whether your crew is on-site, remote, or hybrid; your workflows are on-prem, in the cloud, or both; and whether your audience is in the thousands or the millions.

Day 1: Moving Beyond DIY, Scaling for a Growing Audience, Delivering Large-Scale Streams, and Shifting to Hybrid Workflows

Leading off from an inflection point where many small-to-midsized webcasters find ourselves when our tech and business needs change is Streaming Media Contributing Editor Robert Reinhardt of videoRx with a how-to session titled “LSS101. Moving Beyond DIY Live Streaming.” With new and improving inexpensive video-platform-as-a-service (VPaaS) offerings popping up all the time, when is it time to consider offloading streaming media server infrastructure to one of these easy-to-use, affordable services? 

Reinhardt will introduce you to what’s out there, give you a practical cost-benefit analysis of maintaining your own streaming backbone vs. going the VPaaS route.

Robert Reinhardt Beyond DIY

It would be great if we could ramp up just one thing at a time–say, scaling reliably for a larger audience or making sure we can guarantee high-quality playback on a range of devices–but of course these requirements go hand in hand when it comes to rising demand for large-scale streams. 

On our “LSS102. Scaling for the Demands of a Growing Live Audience” panel, Synamedia’s Gwendal Simon and others will help you identify the tools you need to guarantee a top-quality viewing experience for your live streaming audience, with a particular eye to mastering the demands and meeting the expectations of large-scale event and sports streams.

Without a doubt, today’s live streaming viewers love to be dazzled by top-notch video quality and engaged by innovative interactivity–but what they need is to see a stream that works, without rebuffering delays or downtime. Without a solid, reliable backbone, your stream isn’t going to dazzle anybody. That’s where a robust CDN–or even better, a multi-CDN approach–comes in, and helps you meet that elusive five-nines reliability standard toward which we all strive. 

For our Tuesday afternoon panel on “Delivering Live Streams at Scale,” Rethink Technology Research’s Tommy Flanagan, Stackpath’s Nathan Huey, and back-by-popular-demand Streaming Media mainstays Corey Behnke of Live X and John Petrocelli of Bulldog DM will explore the current state of streaming infrastructure and offer hard-earned lessons on what you need to know to maintain five-nines streaming reliability when 99 1/2 just won’t do.

A lot of funny and not-so-funny things happened in the streaming world when the rest of the world went into various levels of lock-down, streaming became the only way to reach an audience, and remote and hybrid workflows became the only way to create streaming content. Oddly enough, remote production approaches born of necessity changed some of our long-held assumptions about how we budget and crew our shows, how we use tech, and how many events we can run at once. 

Now that large-scale, in-person events from esports and entertainment to trade shows are by and large back—reconfigured, in many cases, as hybrid events with co-equal offsite streaming audiences—will we also continue to develop and rely on hybrid approaches, with master control, technical direction, graphics, or other production elements managed off-site? Our panel of hybrid production innovators including Corey Behnke of Live X and Ben Ratner of CNN+ will discuss how the “adapt and survive” mandate that characterized the initial shift to remote and hybrid workflows has become increasingly “adopt and thrive.”

Corey Behnke on Remote/Hybrid Production Workflows

Day 2: Saying No to Unsustainable Discounting, Prioritizing Low Latency, and Streaming Sports at Scale

Sometimes streaming can feel like a race to the bottom for small- and midsized streaming outfits, with the ever-present demand from clients to slash costs and deliver comparable bang for fewer and fewer bucks. 

Kicking off the second day of Live Streaming at Scale, Robert Reinhardt will present a practical how-to session, "LSS201. Webcasters Unite: Avoding the Rush to the Bottom," for webcasters looking to refine their current business and production models, and reduce costs without sacrificing quality, and to keep discussions with clients focused on your services and expertise rather than ever-deeper discounts.

“How low can you go?” is definitely the wrong question when it comes to selling your streaming services short–but for some applications, it’s the one you need to answer when it comes to streaming latency. Ultra-low latency is the sine qua non of esports and online gaming, as well as things like auctions and in-arena betting. But how much you prioritize latency really depends on what kind of streaming you’re doing. In which large-scale streaming situations is latency particularly important, and what steps can you take to reduce it? In “LSS202. Latency & Live Streaming at Scale,” Jan Ozer leads an all-star panel discussing the most pressing issues facing streamers today, how low you can-or need to–go.

Jan Ozer on Low Latency

We’ll round out the Live Streaming at Scale program with a one-two punch from the sports world in a joint presentation from leading Spanish-language media and content company TelevisaUnivision and LTN Global. TelevisaUnivision, which targets a 600 million-strong global audience of Spanish speakers, has partnered with LTN to bring more than 4,000 live sports events (sometimes broadcasting as many as 20 simultaneously). In "LSS203. Streaming Live Sports at Massive Scale," reps from both companies will be on-hand to discuss how they plan to deliver these large-scale sports streams to audiences across the U.S. and Mexico, with attention to effective decoration and versioning, as well as assessing the merits of a managed services approach.

Register now to secure your spot at the Live Streaming at Scale track and to take advantage of all the program highlights of Streaming Media East 2022. (Which, if I neglected to mention it, is live and in-person, May 24-25 at Boston’s Westin Copley Place!)

Our latest Streaming Media Survey reveals that 72% of your industry peers are ready to return to trade shows and conference, so you'll be in good company! If you sign up by April 22, you'll get the early bird rates for both a full-conference and an all-access pass which includes both Streaming Media East and Streaming Media University Workshops.

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