When the Presidential Inauguration and Michael Jackson Memorial Service were touted as two of the most-streamed live events in Internet history, Highwinds was there. When Tiger Woods took home the FedExCup in the PGA TOUR Playoffs this fall, Highwinds was there. When more than 100,000 people gathered on the National Mall in April for the nation’s largest Earth Day celebration, Highwinds was there. When Alicia Keys performed live on YouTube for World AIDS Day, Highwinds was there.
And because Highwinds was there, many others were able to be there, too.
People around the world have gone online in droves to bear witness to events like these. And when it comes to streaming experiences, today’s audience consists of savvy Internet users with escalating expectations and diminishing patience. They expect the ability to watch major news, political, entertainment, philanthropic, sporting and other live events through high-quality online coverage. They expect instant-on, reliable, broadcast-quality streams. And Highwinds delivers.
“It takes an enormous effort to pull off the streaming of record-breaking levels of hockey games for our significant following of hockey fans, and we required a CDN partner who could keep up with the fast-paced nature of our business,” said Marc Ruskin, president of FASTHockey (www.fasthockey.com), the premier network for watching amateur hockey online. FASTHockey is delivering more than 15,000 hockey games this season over Highwinds’ CDN, including games from USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, the American Collegiate Hockey Association, and others.
Highwinds, in large part, is able to “keep up” with its customers’ live streaming needs through revolutionary self-provisioning technology. StrikeTracker, the value-add media manager used by Highwinds’ customers to manage all their content and rich media, enables customers to create and schedule their own live events for streaming. “We have the ability to control the entire streaming experience,” said Ruskin. “We simply provision new [hockey] games on-the-fly – a tremendous asset to our process – and our customers continuously enjoy high-quality streams.”
The National Hockey League (www.nhl.com) is also using Highwinds’ CDN and StrikeTracker to power and manage live and on-demand video on the league and team web sites for the 2009-2010 hockey season. StrikeTracker enables the NHL to provision sub-accounts for each team and also provision all the games for streaming, which provides a means for sharing the workload among the 30 teams in the league. The result is a better viewing experience for professional hockey fans in the United States and Canada, who will see more video faster than ever before.
AEG Digital Media (formerly Incited Media) is another Highwinds customer who relies heavily on the self-provisioning tools in StrikeTracker. A provider of production and encoding services, AEG Digital Media partnered with Highwinds in January to create an end-to-end live event streaming solution. During the 35th Annual People’s Choice Awards, hundreds of thousands of streams were successfully delivered to online audiences tapping into extensive coverage of red carpet events, backstage interviews and post-show festivities. All live streams were produced in real time by AEG Digital Media, alongside the traditional broadcast coverage on CBS, and sent to Highwinds’ CDN for immediate streaming.
“We stepped up the online coverage this year to give our broadcast viewers the opportunity to see more of the behind-the-scenes footage while the awards ceremony was underway,” said Hooshere Bezdikian, digital executive producer of the People’s Choice Awards. “Incited Media and Highwinds delivered an online experience that was both entertaining and easy to use.”
Other streamed events for AEG Digital Media’s customers include the Alicia Keys live concert on YouTube for World AIDS Day presented by American Express; the LA Philharmonic webcast of ¡Bienvenido Gustavo! from the Hollywood Bowl, the first live webcast in the history of the Hollywood Bowl; Farm Aid 2009, which was streamed live from the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis; and Cirque du Soleil’s Poetic Social Mission Cirque, where founder Guy Laliberte delivered a message about charity from space to coincide with the Cirque opening in Moscow. With the People’s Choice Awards, these and other recent events, AEG Digital Media has worked with Highwinds to ensure exceptional user experiences for online viewers.
Creating exceptional user experiences also lies at the heart of the partnership between Highwinds and Octoshape (www.octoshape.com). “Highwinds and Octoshape together deliver streams of the largest events on the planet to massive audiences, and through streams that are simultaneously high in quality and quantity,” said Scott Brown, CEO of Octoshape U.S. Events supported by Highwinds and Octoshape have included two of the most-hyped, most-watched, most-streamed ones in the history of the Internet: the 2009 Presidential Inauguration and Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service. In January, the inauguration coverage broke all previous records for Highwinds – and for the industry as a whole – and provided further proof that Highwinds ranks among the top echelon of CDNs for its capacity, speeds, scalability and reliability.
And this summer, the partners did it again, this time further proving streaming quality. On July 7th, over one million unique users in 203 countries watched 2.7 million live streams of the Michael Jackson Memorial Service using the Highwinds-Octoshape solution, and cumulative successful stream time exceeded 94.8 million minutes throughout the day. Exceptional user experiences, including high quality and no buffering, were delivered through the Octoshape platform over the Highwinds CDN, as evidenced by reliable streams that averaged 90 minutes in viewing time per user. Furthermore, a testament to the global reach of Highwinds’ CDN, nearly 40 percent of the viewers were from outside the United States. “It is because of a successful track record with these types of events that customers who require scale and quality at a sustainable cost rely on Highwinds with Octoshape Infinite Edge technology,” said Brown.
Octoshape and Highwinds also teamed together to provide live coverage of the 2009 PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup (www.pgatour.com), which included The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship and THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. Streaming of the month-long tournament utilized the Highwinds-Octoshape solution and delivered quality streams of the PGA TOUR globally. It also saw the introduction of a fully customizable video player from Octoshape that enabled golf fans to enjoy enhanced features: digital video recording, leaderboard overlays, scorecard overlays, social network interaction, etc.
Certainly, the Internet soared to new heights in 2009, and new online viewership records for live streams were established. In 2010, many more live events will be streamed to an ever-growing number of online viewers. Perhaps 2009 viewership records will be broken in 2010; perhaps not.
Of course, not all events can rank among the largest ones on the planet and break streaming records. They can’t all be as hyped as the Michael Jackson Memorial Service or as watched as the inauguration of President Obama. But that doesn’t make them any less important in the eyes of content producers and their audiences. And they’re not any less important to Highwinds either. In fact, Highwinds delivers live events every day for customers large and small.
On any given day, a customer is logging into StrikeTracker to provision their event for live streaming, perhaps to an audience of dozens or to an audience of millions. And the beauty of Highwinds’ CDN is that it provides true scalability. In reality, the network had to be built with massive amounts of scalability, because Highwinds puts complete command and control into customers’ hands. All customers upload when they want. They stream at their discretion. They don’t have to notify Highwinds in advance. Yet the CDN is there to support all live events.
In 2010 and beyond, count on Highwinds to stream your events to your audience with the quality and reliability they expect and you require. When it comes to live streaming, Highwinds is there.
And because Highwinds is there, many others will be able to be there, too.