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How to do Interactive Streaming at Scale

What are some of the biggest issues encountered when handling interactive streaming at scale? Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, Producers Guild of America (PGA), VR AR Association (VRARA), talks with Darcy Lorincz, Chief Technology Officer, Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, and Oliver Lietz, CEO, nanocosmos about their thoughts on the specific challenges their organizations face to ensure that their users have the smoothest and most dynamic interactive streaming experiences.

Pfaff says to Lorincz of Barrett-Jackson, “Maybe you can give us a feeling for what your issues are in terms of the size of your audiences and what the volume of your events is, just to give people sort of an idea.”

Lorincz emphasizes the importance of having everyone on the same network despite scale. “I guess scale is in a bunch of buckets,” he says. “But as far as in total number of interested people, everybody has to have the same network because we don't know if they're going to bid at any point in time or be in the fantasy bid or just be a viewer. So we have a low latency network that's global and…you get a great experience no matter if you're just a viewer or a participant. But that doesn't necessarily finish the scale because we also have to have the ability to transact. So you have to have eCommerce in real-time layered on that.” He notes that the newest challenges for Barrett-Jackson are their progression into Augmented Reality (AR) and also understanding how to overlay that in real time.  

“I think we conquered reach and scale a while ago,” Lorincz says. “But that was just for one way. Now,  it's interactive, so there's definitely pressure on the network. We don't have a single point of failure. We've got four networks at any point in time…you’ve got to have a multi-vendor approach. You know, the greatest networks in the world just don't get you everywhere there's a buyer and we have people in the Middle East, we've got people in Asia, Australia…so it's these new things, really the gamification that's going to create the biggest stress for us.” As an example, he cites that one of the major business platforms of Barrett-Jackson, online automobile auctions, is an area where they can push technical boundaries depending on specific high-profile customers. “When somebody's trying to hook up on a $10 million Batmobile and they're in Australia, they're the number one candidate for it to stay on air,” he says.

Pfaff remarks, “It's just a function of the evolution of technology. Yes, the pandemic helped accelerate some of it, but things like watch parties, I mean, you see this obviously in sports. I think it's going to find its way into other domains.” He turns his attention to Oliver Lietz of nanocosmos and asks him about his organization’s “hero projects” which demonstrate their success on the ultra-low latency spectrum.

Lietz says that “audiences are everywhere now all around the world. So we have customers from South America streaming to Southeast Asia and the other way around. And that's for 24/7 operation things and the enterprise space as well. So people want to join their whole employee space from Europe to all around the world. So that's [a] given and everyone expects having engaged audiences [and] then to enable interaction with polls, voting, etc., or even buying things like in the auction space.”

However, Lietz notes that there remains a gulf between the classic OTT space and the interactive space. With OTT, he says, “You have that lean-back experience, large screens on a TV like Premier League or NFL sports, and the interactive things where you also have [a] completely different user experience and user front end user interface. And also the audience is more specific [and] dedicated to use case. So usually our customers have this large audience, kind of [a] traditional OTT space, and then specific dedicated audiences for the gamified content with us, the betting or purchasing or whatever things in the entertainment space.”

“Right?” Pfaff says. “Obviously Twitch has been [in that space] and of course was acquired many years ago now by Amazon. But Twitch has sort of shown the way for what you can do with that size of a global network and basically layering in different experiences, which is to me just fascinating.”

Learn more about interactive streaming at Streaming Media West 2022.

Watch full-session videos from Streaming Media Connect 2022.

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