When the British and Irish Lions take to the field at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday to face the All Blacks in the first Test, they will be expected to give everything they’ve got to deliver the performance demanded by their fans back home.Posted on 22 June 2017 -
In similarly heroic but slightly less physically demanding circumstances, here at Tibus we will be putting in the hard work for 80 minutes to make sure those same fans can listen to live commentary of the match, which will be broadcast live via talkSPORT’s free online streaming service at talkSPORT.com.
That means that, much like Lions coach Warren Gatland, we will be watching our performance unfold in front of us, making sure everything is going to plan and ready to intervene if we spot a potential issue.
Saturday’s match is just the tip of the iceberg for us in terms of workload. Much like the players themselves, the hard yards have been put in well advance to give us the best possible chance of delivering the quality of streaming service we expect.
We have designed and built a network that is capable of delivering broadcast grade services. We’ve also built it with the flexibility and scalability to handle any upswing in traffic. Typically, traffic levels might double during a live commentary broadcast (and it is quite possible that the first Test will attract an even bigger audience than that), but our network can cope with those demands.
Just as the players have been playing warm-up games to get themselves ready for the first Test, we perform various tests on our network. We play out the scenarios that might happen if there is a surge of traffic to the live stream to make sure the network handles this as expected.
During the match itself we'll monitor all of the infrastructure to keep an eye on output and platform performance, and look out for any warning signs that something is amiss. We'll also monitor the links to our transfer providers and Internet exchange points (IXPs) to make sure our network traffic is balanced across these, which helps to maintain the highest levels of performance and availability.
As we said above, this is like Gatland watching his game plan being put into action. We know how everything is designed to work and that it all went to plan in testing, but with so many moving parts in play, we have to make sure no single piece of hardware is going to let the side down.
Thankfully, we trust our infrastructure to work without intervention based on our testing, its performance record to date and our ongoing investment in it. Nonetheless, it gives talkSPORT and the other broadcasters we work with extra piece of mind to know that we're keeping an eye on everything. Our tactics are a bit different to the big CDN operators, who generally operate a self-service policy and leave you to your own devices.
If we do spot a potential problem, we have a strong bench to call upon. We have five separate transit providers in three locations and we peer with most fellow internet service providers at two or three IXPs. You can think of this as being like a rolling maul: we'll push forward to stream the match to listeners via the quickest route. If we get held up or slowed down, we can simply move in a different direction and keep driving towards the target. In other words, if one of the routes to stream the commentary is not pulling its weight, there are plenty of other options to get the job done.
If we lose a network device, our network is designed to start moving traffic in another direction, avoiding the trouble area. This is a bit like a blood replacement: we take it out of action, work to stabilise the problem, then reintroduce the troubled device back into play in a method that will not affect listeners once it is patched up and ready for action.
After the game we will sit down to look at the data, see what worked well and any areas where we can improve. No doubt Gatland and his squad will go through a similar post-match process.
We’re continually investing in the network and optimising it to ensure talkSPORT and our other broadcast customers never need to give it a second thought. More importantly we ensure their listeners get to enjoy broadcasts that are delivered in a manner befitting the high quality content.
Enjoy the game and spare a quick thought for us putting in blood, sweat and tears of our own behind the scenes.