SBS shares online World Cup strategy

Moving to the cloud has allowed broadcaster SBS to successfully cover this year’s World Cup with no outages of its online coverage and four million successful video downloads during the global soccer event.

According to SBS online technical director, Matt Costain, moving the organisation's website hosting and media content to the cloud helped address a number of pressures facing the broadcaster in the lead up to the Cup.

“As a media organisation we need to respond quickly to events which in our world generally are catastrophic news events or scheduled sporting events," he said. "If we haven’t planned for our maximum capacity then we’re going to be behind the game and loose out to other networks. We have to say to ourselves, ‘ok as a media organisation, this is the capacity we can meet’.”

Costain said that prior to the World Cup, SBS had planned out its usage estimates at a high level, but during the Cup found that demand reached five times this amount. However, with the cloud was able to double this figure again.

"While we never needed to turn that on, the knowledge that we could was a really important thing to have in the back of our minds,” he said.

In moving to the cloud SBS partnered with HostWorks, but Costain says the partnership is not exclusively cloud-based.

“There are a lot of different definitions around cloud, and I think while the service we used could be seen as cloud-like, it probably doesn’t represent the ultimate vision of the cloud, which is more self-provisioned,” he said.

The World Cup signalled a large increase in videos being streamed online, with half of the website’s users streamed World Cup videos at the highest bit rate possible, according to Costain.

“Over 50 per cent of our video users represent 30 to 40 per cent of our unique browsers and 50 per cent are consuming video at the highest bit rate we offer which is currently 1mb per second," he said.

“We’re looking where we can take that to maximise the experience for users against the cost of storing the delivered file.”

Costain also highlighted the importance of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and its influence on the adoption of cloud services, arguing that the NBN would help SBS continue to deliver video in the future.

“The NBN is very important to the cloud because it’s not just about streaming video," he said. "At the end of the day the cloud represents a client on the end and services that run in the cloud and the bottleneck becomes the bandwidth. As services are increasing, that bandwidth is becoming more and more important. The most immediate thing for us is delivering video.”

The news comes as the ABC last month shared insights into the deployment of its largest ever technology project.

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