Australian broadcaster live-streamed Winter Olympics with AWS

It would take someone over five million years to watch the amount of video carried across IP networks each month in 2021 – that’s how much video content we’ll be consuming over the next few years.

Throw in 4K – or even 8K – quality streaming videos in the mix and you’ll get a staggering amount of video data that broadcasters would have to process while meeting high consumer expectations of streaming and image quality.

Building their own infrastructure to support those needs is not only expensive for broadcasters, especially for one-time events like the Winter Olympics and the World Cup, it is also time-consuming – given that broadcast rights may not be secured until weeks away from the opening ceremony in some cases.

The most obvious path forward would be to turn to the cloud, which is what Australia’s Seven Networks had done. To provide full coverage of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics over 18 days, it used Amazon Web Services (AWS) to encode and stream 140 million minutes of live video to viewers who were using the OlympicsOn7 and 7plus apps.

With AWS Elemental Live L505AE multi-channel H.264 encoders, Seven Networks provided eight live streams simultaneously, letting users follow their chosen sport including snowboarding, alpine skiing and ice hockey. Premium users could also access the live streams in HD 1080p quality.

To ensure redundancy, all live streams were packaged into Apple HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) encrypted format, with the content then being pushed out over Amazon Direct Connect dedicated links into multiple AWS availability zones within the Sydney region.

Live content was then cached in AWS Origin Servers and, from there, served out via Amazon CloudFront and Akamai’s content delivery networks to meet the demand from viewers throughout Australia.

With the use of APIs, the broadcaster was also able to insert advertising triggers into live video streams, as well as overlay graphics into live video. Seven Networks is also expected to provide similar live streams for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Apart from Seven Networks, AWS has amassed a growing list of broadcasters and over-the-top video content providers, such as PBS, Netflix, itv in the UK and NDTV in India. Amazon itself is reportedly eyeing the broadcast rights to the English Premier League in the UK.

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