2014 World Cup: HBS, Deltatre Stream to a Worldwide Audience

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Football fans around the world will be able to view the 2014 FIFA World Cup from Brazil on-demand from their tablets and smartphones thanks to innovative second screen technology devised by FIFA and host broadcaster HBS, in tandem with service suppliers Deltatre and Netco Sports.

The interest in digital distribution for the sport has, by Deltatre's reckoning, multiplied tenfold since the UEFA European Championship in 2012.

“In 2010 and even in 2012 we could say that multiscreen distribution was for early adopters, but now, in 2014, it is reaching the mass market,” reports Deltatre's World Football Unit director Gilles Mas.

Audiences -- in Europe in particular -- who may not be able to watch the late night matches live from Brazil will want to catch-up on their way to work next morning.

Recent research from YuMe suggests that 63 percent of fans intend to stream World Cup highlights online.

FIFA initiated its multimedia project with the goal of offering a simple but flexible service to mobile and broadband licensees that will allow fans to view the vast amount of material produced for the finals.

About 40 rights holders have already signed to take the mobile and web services from FIFA and HBS. This includes customers for white label services in the form of FIFA World Cup smartphone and tablet apps, and a customisable web player. Additionally, many broadcasters with their own digital platforms and services (such as the BBC) will access only the main content feeds.

“We are very satisfied with the amount of service bookings by our rights holders," says Stefan-Eric Wildemann, manager of sales and distribution at FIFA TV. "It shows that broadcasters have shifted focus on distribution over multimedia platforms and that our solutions for the upcoming FIFA World Cup are at the forefront of what is currently being offered to sports fans.”

Among digital media services offered by HBS to rights holders and managed and delivered by Deltatre is an advanced web video player. In addition, Deltatre will collect and generate statistics for all 64 games to produce the official results system for FIFA. It will also provide a set of tools to populate the official FIFA.com website and associate FIFA online services during the tournament.

Functionally, the web player (based on Deltatre's Diva product) and mobile player are similar, with a platform difference. The mobile product chosen by FIFA and HBS was developed by Paris-based second screen specialist Netco Sports.

Viewers will be able to experience a single match from different vantage points or watch simultaneous play angles with a suite of tactical, player, and team specific cameras by switching through six live camera feeds during the games alongside the multilateral production. The Diva video player also includes live DVR functionality.

“By combining live tournament data, editorial coverage, social media feeds, and video footage from every camera angle on the pitch, Diva has changed World Cup viewing into an interactive, engaging experience,” Mas says.

All content will leave the International Broadcast Centre in Rio under control of server and second-screen technology from EVS, and will reside on an Amazon server farm also controlled of EVS. From there, Deltatre will host content on its origin platform, encoding it for live delivery using Elemental technology over the Akamai CDN or -- if the stream will be integrated to a third-party CDN as preferred by the rights holder -- via the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

Delatre has experience handling traffic for major events, including the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympics. While the amount of data for an Olympic Games is greater than for a World Cup, the football tournament comes with different infrastructure demands.

“While the World Cup commands the second biggest audience for a live event after the Olympics, most fans will consume the experience in typically high concurrency usage,” Mas says. “The World Cup is premium content for a concentrated audience. This has an impact on how we scale and design our architecture. When we design for an Olympics we focus on the permanence of content distribution over a wide footprint for a three week period, while the World Cup is more about taking care of bursts of activity over a similar timeframe.”

This means having the capacity to scale in a timely manner based on constant monitoring of resources.

“We retain as little pooled content as we can on the origin platform and allow the CDN to take care of distribution and multiplication of demand,” Mas explains. “That way we can manage scale and we can scale horizontally when bursts of traffic are predicted.”

BBC to Live Stream Classic World Cup Matches

YuMe's survey suggested there would be strong interest in on-demand streaming of previous World Cup matches. The BBC will make available full "live" digital coverage of vintage England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland World Cup matches exclusively online in the run-up to this summer’s tournament.

Combining as-live video, running text commentary and contributions from special guests, BBC World Cup Rewind will be available online and through the BBC Sport apps. The schedule begins May 30 with the 1966 final England vs, West Germany.

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