IBC Innovation Awards finalist Deluxe, delivered 13 channels of live eSport competitions using public internet across multiple regions with low latency. 

Deluxe partnered with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) to enable the delivery of live ESL broadcast feeds over the public internet for the finals of the 2017 Intel Extreme Masters tournament, held in Poland. The eSports tournament reached more than 46 million viewers.

ESL who needed to find a delivery partner that could deliver live feeds to 13 broadcasters in multiple regions, with additional OTT and digital cinema delivery to some territories.

Deluxe Vice President and Lead Architect Broadcast Delivery Network Anders Hoog explains the partnership:   

What was the initial challenge faced by the end user: technical, creative or commercial?

eSports company ESL, which organises gaming competitions worldwide, was growing in popularity and looking to cover more events in response to audience demand. For Season Ten tournament finals of the Intel Extreme Masters, ESL wanted to reach television, web and cinema audiences in Europe and the Middle East.

They began the search for a technology partner to help them do this in February 2017 and selected Deluxe.

ESL wanted to cover the event at the 11,500-capacity Spodek Arena cost effectively, reliably and securely, so they opted to utilise alternative content delivery methods and partnered with Deluxe to enable the delivery of live feeds over the public internet.

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Live ESL broadcast feeds

The big challenge was to transition from traditional satellite delivery to an IP-based delivery solution and to do this within a very short timeline.

The first of the season’s ESL IEM tournaments were due to take place in late February and March from the Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland – so a very tight turnaround indeed.

For ESL, it was critical that they worked with a delivery partner whose technology was reliable and resilient enough to deliver live feeds to 13 broadcasters in multiple regions, with additional OTT and digital cinema delivery to some regions.

 How did you collaborate to find a solution? Talk us through the process and timeline

We were working to a tight two-and-a-half-week turnaround time from the commissioning of the project through to the live broadcast of the first event.

We utilised the Deluxe Broadcast Delivery Network (BDN) and Portalive, which is our web-based Master Control Room (MCR) tool, onsite at the Spodek Arena and at each of the delivery handoff points.

ESL was keen to reach even more viewers in 2017 with its tournament coverage, delivering a feed to 13 broadcasters including Sport1 and ESL (Germany), OSN (Dubai), TVN (Poland), Telefonica and ESL (Spain), TV3 Sport (Denmark) and Viasat in Sweden, Finland and Norway.

Deluxe was also responsible for delivering the Katowice tournaments to the UK broadcaster, BT Sport, who recorded the live feeds. OTT feeds were also generated and delivered to a number of takers.

Delivery speed was hugely important, so the BDN, which traverses the public internet and can deliver simultaneous live feeds to 13 broadcasters across Europe and the Middle East, as well as four OTT platforms and a Nordic digital cinema chain, was central to the Deluxe solution.

Those broadcasters that were already part of the BDN marketplace required no additional support or on-site set-up; we were able to simply switch the ESL feed using PortaLive from the Deluxe Network Operations Centre (NOC) in Sweden and delivery was enabled to each of the broadcaster’s locations. During the live tournaments, the transmissions were monitored and supported from the NOC.

ESL benefited by being able to connect to the premier network of content owners and broadcasters that were already part of the BDN marketplace. This gave ESL immediate access to reach more markets and broadcasters through greater brand visibility that grew audience and revenue for the event.

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Live ESL broadcast feeds

What challenges did you face when collaborating with the technical partners in order to develop a solution?

In total, there were seven sites that were not yet part of the Deluxe BDN.

We had to deploy our edge-based IP encapsulation devices and encoder/decoder platform at each of these locations. These were set up and supported by Deluxe remotely, eliminating costs and bringing each location onto the network quickly.

Connection to the BDN was achieved once the equipment was installed at each secondary location and the workflow at the primary location (Spodek Arena) was up and running.

What makes your project unique from your competitors?

The biggest differentiators in the Deluxe IP platform vs other solutions delivering over the public Internet are our ability to deliver low latency/high quality, our service levels and global reach.

Deluxe has a proven track record for uninterrupted delivery of high profile real-time contribution and distribution video feeds for many large, international, broadcasters achieving in excess of 99.999% availability since the inception of the IP based BDN.

To minimise latency across the BDN, our platform includes buffers to compensate for any lost packets. Even with sub 500MS latency from London to Sydney, our proprietary technology delivers SD/HD/4K/8K content with no buffering, jittering or dropouts over IP to any device, at the highest availability.

The BDN reach is global, covering five continents and connecting a huge community of broadcasters, satellite earth stations, production facilities, playout facilities and sporting venues.

As a result of the project, what has the outcome been for the end user? What is the benefit for the viewer/consumer?

The Intel Extreme Masters World Championship 2017 in Poland reached more than 46 million unique online viewers in addition to the 173,000 fans at the Spodek Arena and the surrounding festival over two weekends. This represents a 35 percent growth from last year’s event.

The event was the most widely broadcasted event in eSport and ESL’s history – another amazing achievement – with 70 linear and digital partners worldwide, with content produced and distributed in 19 languages.

If you look at just the live streams, highlight clips, and custom features on Twitter and Facebook, the World Championship reached 55 million fans on social media channels, again a phenomenal increase from last year’s figure of around 30 million.

We were able to help ESL significantly expand its reach by delivering a simple and cost-effective broadcast delivery solution to ensure that millions of eSports fans in Europe and the Middle East were able to keep track of all the action. As many of ESL’s rights holding broadcasters already connected to Deluxe’s IP Network, the set up process was much smoother and faster.

What lessons have you learned as a result of this project? Have they resulted in any changes to the way you approach future projects?

  • There will be challenges and changes at short notice during any live programming project; instilled in the team is that reactivity without the service being compromised is hugely important
  • The BDN can be used in many ways – i.e. remote productions and onsite at live events
  • Starting small on something with growth potential is really important; sometimes chasing the big projects gets in the way of seeing the value of smaller projects that have potential to grow. We were able to further hone our approach and identify best practices – and grow our relationship with ESL as well. It’s mutually beneficial
  • The main value in the network is its reach, Deluxe is looking to further accelerate its coverage in broadcasters and platforms globally

 Why is it important to participate in the IBC Innovation Awards?

The IBC Innovation Awards are highly regarded for identifying ground-breaking technology and approaches.

IBC’s commitment to honouring collaboration between vendors and end users is something which sets them apart from other awards. To be recognised for the technical innovation that went into delivering this project for the ELS, and to millions of eSports fans across EMEA, is a great honour for Deluxe.

IBC2017 Innovation Awards ceremony takes place Sunday 17 September