Sky Racing, a world leader in multi-venue, multi-channel thoroughbred horse race broadcasting, is telecasting more than 120,000 races each year to millions of viewers in Australia and around the globe. Sky Racing has recently expanded its use of AWS Elemental Live encoders. Sky utilises AWS Elemental Live for the adaptive bit rate encoding and Apple HLS packaging of thoroughbred horse racing content for live streaming delivery. AWS Elemental Live appliances were originally chosen by Sky to power their live streaming delivery in light of the product’s ability to provide efficient, high quality video encoding of demanding racing content for live streaming delivery at efficient video bit rates that are more cost effective to deliver to large audiences. Building on that success Sky has further expanded and now stream over 40 live video channels simultaneously, using AWS Elemental Live encoders supplied and supported by Digistor.
Sky Racing is also making use of AWS Elemental Quality Defined Variable Bit Rate (QVBR) encoding. QVBR maintains consistent quality video encoding whilst only using the minimum bit rate needed at any given time to maintain a user defined target video quality level, by continuously adapting to the complexity of the video content. Scenes with less motion and less image complexity – such as results being shown, or video footage of horses being in the parade ring – will use a lower video bit rate to encode with a given high video quality, than, for example, complex fast-moving video footage of horses during a race. The latter, more complex content will automatically be allocated a higher video bit rate to maintain the same target quality level. Using QVBR, Sky are able to continually optimise video bit rates for the content, yielding lower average video bit rates overall, in order to provide Sky with substantial savings in the costs of distribution of content to large live streaming audiences, whilst still maintaining consistent high video quality.
When Sky was seeking to expand the number of simultaneous live video streams for the launch of its new Sky Racing Active Service, the broadcaster decided on Digistor and AWS Elemental Live as the logical choice, based on their past and proven success.
Sky’s key requirements for live stream encoding are to maintain consistent high video quality when streaming demanding content, whilst at the same time using the minimum possible video bit rate required in order to control content distribution costs. Live stream encoding must also deliver video streams with low delay and with highly reliable 24×7 operation.
Sky uses AWS Elemental encoding software installed on high performance turnkey on-premises hardware to maximise the number of video channels that can be encoded per device from uncompressed video feeds originating at its Sydney broadcast facility.
Sky also makes use of the AWS Elemental Conductor Live management system in order to manage encoding. AWS Elemental Conductor Live offers Sky centralised control and monitoring of all live streaming channels including features such as automatic changeover to back-up systems, thus ensuring reliable 24×7 operations.
In order to encode an additional 16 live video channels simultaneously for the new Sky Racing Active Service, Sky purchased two AWS Elemental Live L525AE encoders, each performing adaptive bit rate live stream encoding for 8 HD video channels.
The AWS Elemental Live encoders take in uncompressed HD video channels from Sky’s playout centre. Each channel is encoded into video streams at the multiple different video resolutions and bit rates in which Sky needs to deliver to viewer devices. These video streams are then packaged as Apple HLS video segments for delivery via content distribution networks to a wide variety of consumer devices including phones, tablets, web browsers and connected TVs. The AWS Elemental Live encoders are also equipped with high-speed optical Ethernet interfaces to support SMPTE-2110 uncompressed video over IP inputs. This gives Sky a future-proof solution as it migrates from traditional HD video over coax cable infrastructure to video distribution over IP networks within their playout centre, both of which the AWS Elemental appliances can support.
Sky Racing has also purchased multiple AWS Elemental Live L532AE multichannel encoders to provide up to 48 HD channels of live streaming encoding for a disaster recovery facility in order to further strengthen its operations by backing up all of the live stream encoding from their primary site at the disaster recovery site.