Staged each year since 1861, the Melbourne Cup is Australia’s premier horse race and the biggest sporting event on Network 10’s calendar. As well as being broadcast on free-to-air television, the race is offered as a live stream from the company’s website.
It is critical that the live stream of the event be delivered without interruption at a time when traffic levels reach the highest point of the year. For this reason, selection of the underlying platform is critical.
Location: Pymont, Australia
Customer since: 2017
Live event monitoring
To ensure such a large number of live streams could be provided reliably, Network 10 turned to Fastly’s edge cloud network. With 72 points of presence around the globe, four of which are in Australia, Fastly enabled Network 10 to deliver reliable, low-latency, high-performance live streaming-at-scale throughout the event.
The key aim of the project was to ensure that all viewers of a live stream of the 2020 Melbourne Cup had a first-class experience. Network 10 wanted each stream to comprise top-quality audio and video delivered without interruption or buffering.
Thanks to the Fastly edge cloud network, Network Ten achieved its aims with a platform that allows augmentation of services to end-users, thereby providing a better experience and ultimately securing more views.
While the Fastly network became an extension of the company’s digital stack platform rather than a simple delivery stack, at the same time, no bespoke software was required because all required capabilities were already built into the Fastly platform. This made it very easy for Network 10’s engineers to connect to it and ensure optimal performance levels were achieved.
Prior to the big day, Network 10 worked closely with Fastly to ensure there would be sufficient streaming capacity available. Modeling was based on traffic levels experienced during previous events and took into account the rapid rise of online viewing habits during COVID-19 restrictions.
Fastly's edge delivery services and increased capacity was utilised by Network 10’s on-demand streaming platform,10 Play, during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Supporting the event with Fastly’s Live Event Monitoring, 10 Play reserved capacity for the event to prepare for any spontaneous spikes in traffic and Fastly’s engineers were able to monitor the scheduled event's performance and help troubleshoot any issues that may have arisen.
However, Fastly servers were able to seamlessly handle the impact of hundreds of thousands of Australians watching the nationally-renowned race, ensuring the three and a half minute main event went smoothly.
In 2020, more than 680,000 concurrent streams were delivered to racing fans around the world, marketing the largest streaming record in Melbourne Cup’s history. Each stream delivered high-quality video and audio of the race as well as pre- and post-event highlights.
The traffic patterns observed on Cup Day indicated an increase of 1400 per cent in peak bandwidth over the average figure in the previous seven days for Network 10. Compared to the peak bandwidth in the same period, 10 Play’s live stream spiked 214 per cent, showing the network versatility managing high volumes of traffic as Australians joined the crowd virtually.
Fastly handled more than 50 per cent of all traffic during the race. The company delivered streams to viewers in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia.
Fastly allowed Network 10 to adapt to changes in viewer demands and to deliver a first-rate viewer experience regardless of the device being used to consume the race. Where once the majority of people would have viewed the race on conventional television, increasing numbers are watching using a computer or mobile device.
Network 10 has also been particularly impressed by the way in which Fastly allows real-time provisioning, real-time insights, analytics, and log delivery. It also allows operational costs to be minimised by reducing the amount of traffic on the company’s own servers.
Any changes that were required could be completed very quickly and Fastly was tightly integrated with both the Network 10 live stream and the company’s website.
Indeed, the successful results of Fastly’s engagement with Network Ten’s 2020 Melbourne Cup broadcast were amplified for the 2021 Melbourne Cup which saw a 70 per cent of the television network’s traffic handled by Fastly, a 40 per cent year on year increase.
“With live streaming and video-on-demand becoming increasingly important channels for Network 10, it’s vital to have a content delivery partner that can provide a consistent, high-performance platform. Fastly is that partner,” says Jon Jee, Head of Digital Technology, Network Ten.