How Turner Sports and iStreamPlanet make it happen during March Madness



For the third straight year, Turner Sports, a division of WarnerMedia, tapped iStreamPlanet’s end-to-end media solution to guarantee that viewers would have a seamless, high-quality “March Madness Live” viewing experience, no matter where they were watching. Broadcasting 67 games over 15 days is no easy feat, but iStreamPlanet’s revolutionary technology capabilities and live streaming DNA make it possible. Behind the scenes (or screens), iStreamPlanet engineers a highly redundant live video workflow for high availability of live games from the arena to your screen.

2019 March Madness Live devices

March Madness Live apps across a plethora of web, mobile and connected devices

This year, NCAA March Madness Live set all-time tournament records in live streams (over 100 million) and live hours consumed (over 24 million), up 31% and 29% vs. last year, respectively. NCAA March Madness Live generated a record for the NCAA Championship Game based on live unique viewers, with live streams and live hours consumed showing increases of 19% and 7% vs. last year. MML also set all-time daily records in both live hours (eight times) and live streams (five times) throughout this year’s tournament.

“The NCAA Tournament is one of the most anticipated events on the sports calendar due to the unparalleled way it captures the attention of fans over an entire month each and every year,” said Matt Hong, COO, Turner Sports. “This year was no exception, as fans watched the tournament in unprecedented levels across NCAA March Madness Live and our full suite of digital products. Leveraging iStreamPlanet ensures our fans will have an unrivaled experience with the highest video quality and streaming capabilities across all screens.”

Mio Babic, Founder and CEO of iStreamPlanet, shared some of the tech that brought the Big Dance to viewers this year:

  • Starting with live game source, up to four active games push their studio and arena content to CBS for cable and online distribution. These feeds are backhauled over fiber to the Turner Transmission Operations Center. For back-up, an additional arena feed is pulled into Turner as a satellite backhaul in case of a broadcast emergency, such as a fiber cut between CBS and Turner.
  • Separately, iStreamPlanet receives and pre-conditions all ad creatives for OTT distribution before any game begins. Loggers select source content, slate, and insert ads as called out by the March Madness producers.
  • At this point, iStreamPlanet’s Aventus OTT media processing suite treats the stream coming out of the playout server as any other media stream. The playout server and Digital Control Panel (DCP) handle any issues between live game and ad content and send to all apps for live viewing.
  • iStreamPlanet’s Preview Service downscales the input streams to make efficient video previews. This enables the loggers to make informed decisions on the quality of the inputs and gives them real-time feedback on their actions.
  • For additional redundancy, iStreamPlanet replicates the workflow in a separate, isolated geographic regions to create high availability, live streaming infrastructure that matches industry coveted broadcast quality – namely, deliver 100 percent of all basketball and advertising content. iStreamPlanet leverages public cloud infrastructure, including Google Cloud, and the Switch facility in Las Vegas to give loggers the most resilient and low latency access to live game sources.
2019 March Madness Live - Workflow Infographic

March Madness Live workflow diagram

Mark your calendar… the 82nd annual edition of “March Madness Live” returns March 17, 2020!