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ITV is the oldest commercial network in the United Kingdom and the largest commercial broadcaster. ITVX launched in December 2022 as the company’s ad-supported video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service, with a free version and a premium tier. In August 2023, ITVX was awarded the title, “Best On Demand Service,” at the Edinburgh TV Awards, and in September 2023 the broadcaster reached 2 billion streams. With a mix of original programming, familiar series, and live events, ITVX has steadily increased its number of monthly active users (MAUs) by 29% in the first six months of 2023, with increases of up to 93% in targeted demos.
Industry: Streaming Media, Digital Publishing
Location: EMEA
Customer since: 2022

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Fastly CDN

ITVX handles record-breaking FIFA World Cup viewership flawlessly with Fastly

The Challenge

ITVX employs a multi-CDN strategy to ensure interruption-free viewing for popular reality series like Love Island and sporting events including FIFA’s Men’s and Women’s World Cup and the Tour de France. A blockbuster episode of Love Island, or gripping sporting event can easily see millions of concurrent streams, which prompted ITVX to rethink its long-term strategy for content delivery. ITVX’s engineering team had encountered a network bandwidth crunch leading up to the FIFA Men’s World Cup, leading to a rapid need to acquire access to additional bandwidth. Mark Ison, Director of Engineering at ITV, began discussing the possibility of partnering with Fastly to maintain the high quality of video experience ITV viewers have come to expect.

The implementation timetable went from long-term to light-speed when ITVX started preparations for the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, the world’s fourth-most-watched sporting event. With its rapid growth in viewership, the expected demand for the World Cup, and the annual surge in Internet traffic from the holiday shopping season, ITVX had concerns if they had been allocated enough bandwidth to serve all viewers. ITVX needed to increase its capacity to ensure seamless delivery to the millions of viewers tuning in daily—and they needed a partner who could get a new CDN live and integrated with their current solutions at unprecedented speed.

The Solution

ITVX approached Fastly to accelerate the onboarding and implementation process—a request that gave the Fastly team, from sales and support to engineers and executives, the opportunity to prove just how agile and responsive a CDN provider can be. “The Fastly team was really like an extension of my own team,” said Ison. “Their expertise and accessibility were crucial to our success.”

Swift implementation

Within two weeks, Fastly engineers provisioned, implemented and put in place configurations to give ITVX the capability required to reliably deliver FIFA World Cup matches to eager—and demanding—viewers. Fastly’s developer-first approach means that ease-of-implementation and ease-of-use are key features of the Fastly CDN platform. For ITVX, the sprint from consideration to integration meant that its team could handle a massive traffic event with confidence.

Agile operations

The semi final of the FIFA World Cup between England and France was second only to the inauguration of King Charles III as the most-watched event of the year in the UK. Fortunately, Fastly's nimble approach allowed the ITVX team to address issues in real time. With a robust multi-CDN network, ITVX could redirect traffic on the fly and scale rapidly to meet demand and optimize performance—a must for the record-breaking viewership for the 2023 event. Fastly’s ongoing support also ensures that when problems arise they get handled quickly. During the World Cup, Fastly support actively participated in calls with ITVX's team, identifying and resolving an unexpected challenge within five minutes. This quick response time and collaborative problem-solving showcased how the Fastly team's commitment to seamless operations makes them an integral part of ITV's strategy during critical events.

Strong partnership

After the success of the FIFA World Cup, ITVX expanded its usage of Fastly, enhancing its platform's resiliency to ensure an optimal viewing experience for its audience. The collaboration not only met ITV's immediate needs but also contributed to the learning curve for both parties, creating a partnership that goes beyond a typical client-vendor relationship.

Key Takeaway

Fastly's quick onboarding process, responsive support, and active collaboration with ITVX’s team demonstrated the importance of having a partner that understands and prioritizes the unique challenges of live streaming. In the fast-paced world of video delivery, being "Fastly by name, Fastly by nature" proved to be a game-changer for ITVX, ensuring they could offer the best video experience to their viewers without missing a moment of the action.

"It was 20 days, 20 working days from the point of deciding to use Fastly to signing the contract and that very next day using it for a World Cup match, to everything from privacy to legal, to dealing with all the technical challenges, Fastly by name, Fastly by nature is is what I would say."

Mark Ison
Director of Engineering at ITV

"The World Cup is such a major sporting event, you really cannot afford to fail customers or viewers during that time. So it's absolutely critical that we are able to offer them the best video experience and get them the highest resolution video as quickly as we can."

Mark Ison
Director of Engineering at ITV

"Working with everyone at Fastly is fantastic, it really feels like they are an extension of my team. Their expertise and accessibility were crucial to our success."

Mark Ison
Director of Engineering at ITV

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