Events Microsoft

Notes on PDC2008 Sessions – Inside the NBC Olympics Player

This session was done very well by Eric Schmidt (Director, Microsoft).

Some top-level highlights were:

  1. 34 top level events sorted by icons
  2. At the peak, 17 live separate events were happening
  3. 2000 hours of live content and 2200 Highlight content that was created

The result was staggering: 1.3 Billion Pageviews, 50 Million Unique Visitors, 70 million videos watched, 5000 Unique clips viewed per day during the final week, 600 million minutes of video delivery, 27 minutes of viewing per session, 35 million mobile views (external), 130,000 peak streams, 3.4 petabytes of video delivered, were built for 2.5 times of what was delivered.

Four main types of contents:

  1. Live Content were delivered with Windows Media Server, with commentary was coming from commentators typing in a CMS which got moved as XML to production
  2. Rewind – Video on Demand play of live content
  3. Highlight NBC pulled out 50 Interns from college put them in 30 ROCK and make them create these 3-5min highlights of individual events.
  4. Encores – Broadcast replays

Other points mentioned:

  • Planning of capacity was most important. When, Where and Size (each sport is of different length) was to be planned to determine the CPU, storage and ingress/egress needs.
  • NBC was helped by Intel Penguin processor, NBC waited for it and the servers got shipped around in May and took 6 weeks to go to Beijing
  • Bandwidth out of Beijing was limited to a 40 meg (DS3). 40 encoders were running live, so about 1MB per encoder (Digital Rapid). All this went into two windows media services box in Beijing, this got patched to window media services in 30 Rock, New York so that they can control if they had to. Which was then mapped to Limelight & Level 3 CDN’s massive WMS boxes. More details of encoding process in the blog post here
  • No full screen due to IOC Advertising requirements on the percentage of advertisements to video
  • Many partners were involved: Deltatre (Italy) had the CMS the best in the world to do live score on web
  • HTTPWatch Professional (and Fiddler) was useful to see what’s going on

Lessons Learned:

  • Scrum and Scrumming builds better teams as the teams were distributed worldwide
  • Meeting Face to Face was very important, especially to bring this up cost in RFP stage
  • Everyone should know all roles and all architectural touch points
  • Reduce complexity via common schema
  • Long-tail delivery hides issues, when you are watching current items you needed to focus on the older contents that were being watched by the long-tail
  • The industry needs better telemetry and monitoring solutions
  • “Chunked” workflow (smaller sized thousand of files created) presented new challenges – Now IIS 7.0 Smooth Streaming in Media Pack announced yesterday does this better
  • Over 250 people between Microsoft, NBC and all other partners

1 Comment

  • wow… I would call this "statistics" and real life lessons from one of the best implementations of Live Media Coverage. This is in fact bigger and better than "Live Concerts"