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What Tech Innovations Are Driving Live Sports Streaming?

Google Head of Sports & Entertainment Kiran Paranjpe, NASCAR Digital Media Director Brendan Reiley, World Surf League SVP Rich Robinson, and WWE SVP Jared Smith discuss what's driving sports streaming in their keynote at Streaming Media West 2019.

Learn more about sports streaming at Streaming Media's next event.

Watch the complete presentation from Streaming Media West, Keynote: The Next Generation of Sports Streaming, in the Streaming Media Conference Video Portal.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Kiran Paranjpe: When launching a new updated streaming experience, a lot of external attention will be paid to the UX, monetization models, things that, people can sort of touch and see. But the underlying infrastructure, especially for live events, can really make or break your audience development, your monetization strategies, retention strategies. In the last few years, what new technology has given you more confidence that you can deliver an ideal product? And what gaps do you feel like are left, that you'd like to see the industry and providers address? Brendan, why don't we start with you.

Brendan Reiley: Sure. We're always trying to make our streams more efficient, and you kinda cut out middlemen. We've recently moved away from satellite, to using cloud for streaming. Actually, we've implemented Google's dynamic ad insertion. Which has been a huge step for us, it's giving you guys a little bit more control on the streaming side, but it's allowing us to advertise to our audience across devices. We couldn't do that previously, we were missing out on mobile web. So implementing DAI has really helped with that. It's helped us become more efficient, I remember the first time we tested it out, I was a little nervous about it, to be honest with ya. 'Cause our first race of the season's the Daytona 500. So, we're always kinda testing our big race, right? But, we had the guys from Google DAI on the call with us, super-smart guys, gave us a white glove service, and everything seemed to go great. But that's really been huge step for us, in monetization and streaming reliability.

Kiran Paranjpe: Great. Rich.

Rich Robinson: We take remote production as far as you can. The biggest shift I've seen in the last five years or so that we've been doing it, has definitely been similar, move off of satellite, everywhere we used to bring sat with us to every single tour stop. As connectivity has continued to extend in all of our different far-flung areas, we build to rely more on fiber. Just pushing a lot of those services back into the cloud, where the digital product tends to handshake with the production team, it's become a lot easier for us to pass things off without the same concern of the dark art of encoding somehow getting in the way in a way that we have to kinda address. That's where we've seen a lot of success with fiber cross-connects, and really kind of planning out how we're gonna go from one network to the next, depending upon the vendor makeup that we work with. On the tech side, on the outside, DAI is huge for us. We're an ad and sponsorship business; we don't currently offer a subscription model. And what's important for us is taking a global sponsor with us, and being able to promise them the ability to stitch up their various regional marketing teams spend, into one commercial break, so we can have, some are inventory in northern hemisphere, winter inventory in the southern hemisphere, and serve that up to our global audience, it's all tuned at one time in the same commercial break. That's been a strength for our sponsorship team and being able to really, demonstrate value to those sponsors throughout the season. And I don't think we could've produced in any other way, and when we started out we were burning ads in from the truck, and it was very limiting. It limited the stories we could tell, and really the ways which we could've incorporate those folks, so that's been huge, yeah.

[Kiran] When launching a new updated streaming experience, a lot of external attention will be paid to the UX, monetization models, things that, people can sort of touch and see. But the underlying infrastructure, especially for live events, can really make or break your audience development, your monetization strategies, retention strategies. In the last few years, what new technology has given you more confidence that you can deliver an ideal product? And what gaps do you feel like are left, that you'd like to see the industry and providers address? Brendan, why don't we start with you.

- [Brendan] Sure. We're always trying to make our streams more efficient, and you kinda cut out middlemen. We've recently moved away from satellite, to using cloud for streaming. Actually, we've implemented Google's dynamic ad insertion. Which has been a huge step for us, it's giving you guys a little bit more control on the streaming side, but it's allowing us to advertise to our audience across devices. We couldn't do that previously, we were missing out on mobile web. So implementing DAI has really helped with that. It's helped us become more efficient, I remember the first time we tested it out, I was a little nervous about it, to be honest with ya. 'Cause our first race of the season's the Daytona 500. So, we're always kinda testing our big race, right? But, we had the guys from Google DAI on the call with us, super-smart guys, gave us a white glove service, and everything seemed to go great. But that's really been huge step for us, in monetization and streaming reliability.

- [Kiran] Great, Rich.

- [Rich] We take remote production as far as you can. The biggest shift I've seen in the last five years or so that we've been doing it, has definitely been similar, move off of satellite, everywhere we used to bring sat with us to every single tour stop. As connectivity has continued to extend in all of our different far-flung areas, we build to rely more on fiber. Just pushing a lot of those services back into the cloud, where the digital product tends to handshake with the production team, it's become a lot easier for us to pass things off without the same concern of the dark art of encoding somehow getting in the way in a way that we have to kinda address. That's where we've seen a lot of success with fiber cross-connects, and really kind of planning out how we're gonna go from one network to the next, depending upon the vendor makeup that we work with. On the tech side, on the outside, DAI is huge for us. We're an ad and sponsorship business; we don't currently offer a subscription model. And what's important for us is taking a global sponsor with us, and being able to promise them the ability to stitch up their various regional marketing teams spend, into one commercial break, so we can have, some are inventory in northern hemisphere, winter inventory in the southern hemisphere, and serve that up to our global audience, it's all tuned at one time in the same commercial break. That's been a strength for our sponsorship team and being able to really, demonstrate value to those sponsors throughout the season. And I don't think we could've produced in any other way, and when we started out we were burning ads in from the truck, and it was very limiting. It limited the stories we could tell, and really the ways which we could've incorporate those folks, so that's been huge, yeah.

Jared Smith: I'd echo what Rich said about, proliferation of services into the cloud, and so giving us the ability to quickly scale up services, around spikes for live events. The other thing I would add, on a slightly different path, that has been extremely helpful for us is, our ability to mine all of the user comments and feedback that's out there, in close to real time. And run that through categorization, and sentiment analysis, topic modeling, that'll allow us to identify issues that are happening in close to real time. And so when we have live events going on, or we have people engaging with our service, if there's some type of blip or disruption, we're able now to identify that, so much faster than we ever could, and put ourselves in a position to then resolve it in a much shorter timeframe.

 I'd echo what Rich said about, proliferation of services into the cloud, and so giving us the ability to quickly scale up services, around spikes for live events. The other thing I would add, on a slightly different path, that has been extremely helpful for us is, our ability to mine all of the user comments and feedback that's out there, in close to real time. And run that through categorization, and sentiment analysis, topic modeling, that'll allow us to identify issues that are happening in close to real time. And so when we have live events going on, or we have people engaging with our service, if there's some type of blip or disruption, we're able now to identify that, so much faster than we ever could, and put ourselves in a position to then resolve it in a much shorter timeframe.