Blog

Tokyo Olympics: A new era dawns for Cloud

June 22, 2021

By Vijaya Sagar Vinnakota, VP Engineering, Streaming TV

The Olympics is a big event, and that I know is an understatement! More than 11K athletes from across over 200 countries are expected to converge at Tokyo between July 23 and August 16, 2021 to play the XXXII Olympiad and demonstrate the spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

For technology companies, Olympics stands out as a ‘new-age technology’ demonstration exercise. For broadcasters to cloud companies, and playout and media technology providers like Amagi, Olympics is a marquee show they don’t want to miss!

This edition of Olympics will stay special in the collective memory of Amagi as we help herald the new era of cloud for live sports. Amagi has been chosen by NBC Olympics, a division of the NBC Sports Group, to provide UHD playout with cloud automation for its production of the Olympic Games, on its Olympics Channel.

Cloud playout for standard SD and HD in itself is a formidable challenge that very few tech providers in the industry are equipped to handle. Given this background, delivering UHD on the cloud, without a single piece of hardware in use - combined with live workflows - is a feat that Amagi is poised to achieve with confidence.

We are excited to be able to make this possible for NBC Sports Group at a grand global stage like the Olympics.

We are offering an end-to-end cloud solution with the following key features:
  • On demand orchestration of the solution on the cloud
  • Dual region redundant live and non-live streams with UHD
  • Smart on-cloud hitless switching
  • Compute-efficient architecture with CPU and no GPUs
  • Orchestrated live closed captioning
  • Live to VOD recording
  • Rich HDR graphics with DVE effects including HTML graphics
  • Dolby Atmos 10 channel audio
  • Multi-view monitoring and 24/7 tech support

Here’s a peek into a few top Amagi cloud advantages

Cost effectiveness

With Amagi’s live orchestration system on AWS cloud, resources are provisioned or deprovisioned based on requirements, delivering significant cost savings.

The broadcaster might cover a more popular sport like a track event and skip another that is not preferred much by the US audience. Which means, it might decide to stream only a limited number of hours of live content in its 24 hours programming every day. Amagi’s system ensures that cloud resources are provisioned only for those live hours, thus directly translating into cost savings. (Of course, with our live-to-VOD recording capabilities, the network can create live recorded and live deferred content that can be added to the rest of the programming schedule.)

Here’s another highlight. Unlike many other vendors, we leverage normal off-the-shelf CPU processors instead of high-end GPUs for processing visuals. These result in additional cost savings that do not come at the cost of quality, as we are able to ensure high quality visuals, validated by multiple eye ball tests and screen quality tests.

High reliability

A high stakes event like Olympics demands greater reliability and seamless operations. With dual region redundant streams combined with Amagi’s smart hitless switching, we ensure that the high profile event is insured against one major geographical outage. Even if the redundant input from one region goes down, the end output is hitless. As a result, consumers will have a seamless viewing experience. I would say, this is as good as it gets! The smart here is in the Amagi switcher that resides in the cloud.

Deep integration for simplified operations
One of the biggest advantages we offer is tight integration of our solution with NBCUniversal’s existing workflows. Our flexible and well-integrated solution enables seamless operational capability to the network’s various teams. In addition, our single, unified web interface is extremely user-friendly, allowing the network teams to easily access all workflows from anywhere, anytime, thus simplifying operations.

Awesome viewer experience

Olympics is a much anticipated sporting gala and the latest edition is one that the world - that has been under the grips of uncertainty unleashed by the pandemic - is keenly awaiting. Amagi is proud to play an integral part in making this a great experience for viewers across the US, with first of its kind UHD live playout on the cloud. We have built effective tools to reliably transport the higher bitrate UHD streams in and out of our playout solution, and also added support for new video formats like HEVC, specifically to support UHD. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, in spite of leveraging CPU processors, Amagi will deliver rich, high quality visuals.

As for audio, by supporting Dolby Atmos 10 channel audio, we are helping augment the rich 4K experience with immersive sound that would give viewers at home a near-live experience.

Closing note
There is palpable excitement in the teams as the countdown to the grand event begins, and we will be bringing you more updates in the coming weeks and days. I would like to leave you on this note for now:

The Olympic experience is a huge opportunity for Amagi to reinforce the power of cloud playout for live sports - and demonstrate its viability for events of such massive scale, where much is at stake for broadcasters. As a cloud-native tech partner, this is perhaps our big leap towards bringing cloud + UHD onto the mainstream, and paving the way for more innovations in the streaming space.

Comments
Amagi has been running sports channels in the cloud, in a variety of markets, and brings to the stage proven expertise in delivering UHD on the cloud with live workflows.
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