Bringing Live Streaming to Life for March Madness

This is the seventh year Turner Sports and CBS have partnered to bring fans live coverage of all 67 games from the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. More people watched “March Madness” this year than ever before averaging 10.827 million viewers and a record 98 million live streams.  

With a new streaming infrastructure powered by iStreamPlanet, fans were able to experience 275 hours of uninterrupted, high-quality video across 15 different platforms.

“Fans don’t necessarily realize what it takes to bring March Madness Live to life, but it is a huge undertaking,” said iStreamPlanet’s Director of Software Engineering Dan Penn.

There’s a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes to move content from the court to people’s living rooms, mobile devices, tablets and laptops. This was the first time iStreamPlanet provided streaming for the tournament, and with their involvement came some significant upgrades including moving the all-source switching, content splicing and content management to an IP domain. This provided great scale and flexibility to move and edit content.

Penn added, “iStreamPlanet is no stranger to high-profile events, having streamed multiple Olympic Games, Super Bowls, NBA basketball, Master’s Golf tournament, Premier League Soccer, ELEAGUE and countless others.  This was the first year we delivered March Madness Live and it provided some interesting challenges, particularly video stream redundancy.  Our goal was to ensure that fans could catch every tick of the clock without any service interruptions.”

You can read more about the technical aspects of the video delivery workflow on the iStreamPlanet blog.

Viewers weren’t the only ones who benefitted from the new streaming infrastructure. For advertisers, there were much better tools to monitor ad inventory through an entire life cycle, and they were provided more data and insights about the audience. User-friendly dashboards enabled sales execs at Turner to monitor what ads played where, how frequently, on what game, and on what devices while pairing that data with performance metrics pulled in from user behavior.

Mio Babic, founder of iStreamPlanet said in an interview with CNET, "I thought we would do well, but this even surpassed my expectations….This shows if you give the fans the content they want, they will come, and they will come in large numbers."

(Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.)

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