How can Interconnection Mitigate Delay in Broadcasting Sporting Events?

Soccer is a national passion. Here in Brazil we are in the middle of the State Soccer Championships. In June, we will have Copa América and FIFA Women’s World Cup. In this context, it is important to review something that we have noticed in other sporting events: the user experience determines the success of any broadcaster or content producer. Those who watch games via cable or streaming can clearly notice the delay in broadcasting when their neighbors who are watching the same game on broadcast TV or radio scream “goal!” way before them. For example, during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, several videos circulated on social media showing, in some cases, a difference of up to 40 seconds, proving that even a small delay in the transmission of real time sporting events can ruin the experience of those watching.

The reason for this delay is already well known: the signal path from image capture to end-user reception is longer on cable TV than on broadcast TV (and even longer via streaming). But what would be the alternative then? Many people buy antennas, which is definitely not an ideal solution (particularly not for those who have invested in HD or 4K TVs in search of quality). Actually, the solution to reduce this delay is out there – it is called interconnection. The end-user may want their internet provider to be well interconnected so that less “hops” are made to reach the content.

These companies’ current platform is still engineered around traditional technology and centralized networks for the reception and distribution of media. Broadcasters receive the transmission of a game from the other side of the world, send the data to their headquarters (usually via public Internet) and then distribute it to subscribers, either via fiber or satellite. This fixed siloed model of creation, storage and distribution no longer supports the increasing data volume, the global scale business growth or today’s required transmission speeds, as it is still too costly, rigid and restrictive.

Interconnection, on the other hand, allows direct data exchange between content and digital media companies, without necessarily going through the Internet. By connecting privately to multiple data centers across the globe, interconnection creates a kind of “private highway” open only to these companies – a less congested and much faster route than the Internet’s “public highway”. In the Global Interconnection Index Volume 2 (GXI), we predicted that in 2021 interconnection bandwidth should reach more than 8,200 TBps of capacity, or the equivalent of 33 zettabytes (ZB) of data exchange per year. This represents a significant compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over a five-year period, reaching 48% – almost twice the expected 26% CAGR of global IP traffic.

At a basic level, datacenter interconnection helps ensure that real-time video streaming is delivered seamlessly. In the case of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, for example, the transmission would have the speed and low latency needed to guarantee the best possible viewing experience (i.e. with high-quality image and no delay). We believe that this method to avoid delay will not be ready for events taking place later this year, but there is time to prepare the ground for future events. With an interconnected platform, content and digital media companies can quickly and easily scale their productions, connect privately with content delivery partners, and create innovative, customized products for the end-user, generating new revenue and new forms of media consumption.

One example is Discovery Communications. The company implemented an interconnection-oriented architecture that has enabled it to transform its business into a distributed, fully cloud-based model. Placing its IT infrastructure in interconnected data centers in Ashburn, London and Paris, Discovery Communications has consolidated 80% of its platform, optimizing the delivery of global content and accelerating product delivery in real-time latency connections. The idea is to meet the consumption demand for the broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

Here in Brazil, the adoption of the interconnection movement by the Content and Digital Media industry is growing everyday. Companies have already taken note of how important this approach is, mainly regarding to the possibility of innovating and generating new sources of revenue, especially in relation to streaming services. According to the above-mentioned study, this will be the fastest growing segment in Latin America up until 2021, growing at a CAGR of 63% and representing 35% of the total Interconnection Bandwidth in the region. See the diagram below for all LATAM industries:

Now is the time for our companies to invest in technology and become more competitive. With the user experience so prominent, Brazilian broadcasters and content producers must take the next step, preparing now for upcoming major sporting events and becoming truly global companies.

To learn more about how interconnection can support this industry, check out the Content and Digital Media Playbook. In addition to market trends and insights, the asset brings a complete roadmap for companies to know step by step how to become a digital provider.

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