How Red Bee Media is using Equinix to Expand Access to Its Content Distribution Platform

Growing an “everything-live digital media” store with interconnection

Matthew George

It’s hard to believe that the first live stream show on the internet was 27 years ago and YouTube was born 12 years after that. Today, there are so many places to consume content that winning eyeballs is as much about reach and quality of experience as it is about the content. Users are more likely to try a new channel if it is well-known and more likely to come back if the streaming experience is fast and without the glitches that latency can bring. And, with the COVID-19 pandemic sending many in-person entertainment instances, such as live sports, online, the competition for those eyeballs is only getting tougher.

Delivering an optimal experience requires removing the distance between content providers and consumers as much as possible. This is driving demand for interconnection, which is the direct and private exchange of traffic between key business partners.[i] In fact, the Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 3, a study published by Equinix, projects private interconnection bandwidth in the content and digital media sector will grow by 41% annually between 2018 and 2022.”

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A shifting digital media landscape

Media consumption habits have been shifting away from traditional models for some time. Viewers expect more personalized choices and a consistent quality of experience on whatever device they use from whatever location they’re in. To meet this demand, content and digital media (CDM) companies need to move away from a centralized IT infrastructure to one based on interconnection at the edge, closer to the most networks, clouds and end users and their ever-important eyeballs. Interconnection allows CDM companies to gain proximity to dispersed users globally, as well as securely exchange latency-sensitive data with partners in real-time, bypassing the public internet. Moreover, an interconnection-based approach provides content creators and distributors with the scalability, flexibility and security they need to collaborate, innovate and expand in this rapidly changing landscape. In short, it is condensing the media supply chain

How Red Bee Media is distributing live media via private interconnection

Red Bee Media, a leading global media services company, has recently expanded its connectivity on Platform Equinix® in the U.K. to support growth in its Channel Store. Existing Red Bee deployments within Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers in Amsterdam and Helsinki use an interconnection approach to enable content owners and distributors to market and deliver multi-format, live content. Red Bee’s Channel Store is a global signal aggregation and distribution platform where thousands of hours of live content are aggregated from multiple sources over Red Bee’s network. By offering an end to end managed service for content owners and distributors to connect and handover live content, Red Bee aims to be the market leader in distribution of live media to Cable, Satellite and OTT platforms. Red Bee acquires content from their own geo-redundant teleports in the Netherlands and Sweden, in addition to a further 100 IP connected signal providers, not to mention their own extensive playout facilities across Europe, Middle East and APAC regions. Today, the Channel Store delivers over 1,000 active channels with a catalog of over 10,000 that can be spun up quickly whenever needed.

Interconnection at the edge allows content and digital media (CDM) companies to get close to the most networks, clouds and end users and their ever-important eyeballs.
“Efficient distribution of live content to global platforms is increasingly important to content owners, who need a service provider that can offer the benefits of scale and flexibility. We want to be able to tell our customers that we can deliver their content to wherever it needs to go, reliably and securely with the lowest latency and highest quality possible.” Kris Langbridge, Head of Transformation and Distribution, Red Bee

Interconnection plays a part in signal acquisition. While Red Bee does acquire live TV signals from its satellite dishes, there are times when it needs to acquire signals through an IP connection to a signal provider in the data center. By leveraging direct and secure, low-latency Equinix Cross Connects between signal providers, internet service providers (ISPs), networks, clouds and distributors, Red Bee can acquire new signals quickly. Acquiring signals quickly is essential for fast delivery of online live media to multiple content distributors.

Proximity to content distributors and their own points of presence (PoPs) also plays a key role in how Red Bee delivers its services, validating signal integrity and handing over content securely. TV and Radio signals must be monitored at the point of handover to help pinpoint issues in the distribution network should they occur. Secure network infrastructure is then used to ensure distributors can only access the content they are entitled to carry.

Red Bee achieves a high level of reliability by delivering the signal simultaneously across their geo-redundant PoPs in multiple data centers, using interconnection to reach third parties, affiliates and public cloud providers such as AWS, Google or MS Azure, who then distribute those signals out to the consumer, whether that’s through Cable, Satellite or OTT. The diagram below illustrates how that works.

Ecosystems are key when it comes to growing a platform

The density of signal providers and distributors available on Platform Equinix is another key reason why Red Bee has partnered with Equinix over the long-term and in the recent expansion. With more than 1,800 networks, 2,900+ cloud and IT service providers and 650+ content and digital media players available, Red Bee can easily interconnect to the key partners and providers it needs to throughout the content acquisition and distribution process.

The density of signal providers and distributors available on Platform Equinix is a key reason why Red Bee has partnered with Equinix over the long-term and in the recent expansion.
“Finding data centers that can offer cost effective access to greater numbers of signal providers and distributors in one place helps us achieve our mission. An interconnection-based approach on Platform Equinix enables us to do this. We see Equinix as a marketplace which is crucial as we expand our market reach with international signal providers, while delivering high-quality outbound streams to distributors securely at speed.” Kris Langbridge, Head of Transformation and Distribution, Red Bee

By leveraging interconnection on Platform Equinix, CDM companies like Red Bee can rapidly and easily scale their productions; connect to supply chain partners; create valuable digital assets for optimal user experience (UX); deliver assets in new and emerging markets; and create ecosystems and models that differentiate their products and drive new revenue and consumption.

Read the Content and Digital Media Playbook to see how industry leaders are harnessing interconnection to meet the digital demands of today’s users.

[1] Interconnection bandwidth is defined as the total capacity provisioned to privately and directly exchange traffic, with a diverse set of partners and providers, at distributed IT exchange points inside carrier-neutral colocation data centers.

Matthew George
Matthew George SME/Senior Manager: Enterprise Solution Marketing: EMEA