Free Pack
Buy Now

Real-time thrills: the social experience of live sports viewing

Jul 3, 2024 | By Jane Allan

Imagine sitting at the edge of your seat during a championship game, your heart pounding as the clock ticks down. You’re connected with your friends on WhatsApp, sharing every moment of the game. But just as the winning goal is about to be scored, your phone buzzes with celebratory messages from your friends who are watching the same game on broadcast TV. This delay is more than just a minor inconvenience – it’s a disruption of your entire viewing experience.

For telecom and video streaming providers, understanding and addressing this kind of latency in live sports streaming is not just a technical challenge but a critical business imperative. Velocix, with its hybrid-cloud and ultra-low latency solutions, is at the forefront of addressing these challenges, ensuring providers stay ahead in the live streaming race. The modern sports fan demands real-time engagement, and delays of even a few seconds can make the difference between a loyal subscriber and a lost customer.


The social experience of live sports viewing

Live sports are inherently social. They bring people together, creating shared moments of excitement and heartbreak. Today, these shared moments often happen over social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp. Fans don't just watch sports; they live them, breathe them, and share every moment with their community on their mobile phones, tablets, and smart TVs.

When latency disrupts this experience, it’s like being at a concert where the sound and the visuals are out of sync. The magic is lost. Fans who receive updates on social media before seeing the action unfold on their screens feel disconnected and frustrated. This is where ultra-low latency streaming steps in as a game-changer.

Metaphors of connection

Think of live sports streaming as a relay race. Each segment of the race represents a different part of the video delivery process – from capturing the event to encoding the video, and finally delivering it to the viewer’s screen. In a perfect relay, the baton (representing the live feed) is passed smoothly and swiftly from one runner to the next, ensuring a seamless handover.

However, traditional IPTV and OTT streaming methods can be like runners who are out of sync, causing delays and fumbles. Broadcast TV might have a 5-second delay, but OTT streams can lag by 30 seconds or more, turning real-time excitement into a staggered, fragmented experience.

Hybrid-cloud CDN: Enhancing the relay race

Video service operators are on a journey of digital transformation, migrating their foundational business systems to the cloud to drive down costs and boost agility. Many control plane functions like billing and subscriber management have moved to the cloud already. However, operators have been slower to transition data plane functions like content delivery due to concerns about service quality, content security, and disruption of core revenue-generating services.Relay-race-image

Times are changing, and many operators are beginning to look towards the cloud to enhance their existing content delivery network (CDN) architectures. Rather than cutting over to full public cloud solutions, which can introduce unnecessary risk and expense, hybrid approaches have become the preferred method of migrating video delivery towards the cloud.

Hybrid-cloud CDN architectures offer the best of both worlds. They combine the quality, cost efficiency, and low-risk profile of dedicated video infrastructure with the flexibility of cloud services. These architectures feature edge caches compatible with public cloud and private cloud environments like Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or Openstack. Intelligent request routing software coordinates resources across cloud and on-network installations to ensure optimal utilisation and service quality.


On-demand webinar - Why Hybrid-cloud video streaming?
Click here to watch the full video with experts from Altice Portugal and Velocix

Handling traffic bursts with Hybrid-cloud

Traditionally, operators have delivered live streaming services using on-net CDN and Origin server solutions. These solutions feature hierarchically arranged servers that are positioned within the operator’s network progressively closer to the consumer. Origin servers are usually placed centrally or regionally, while CDN edge caches are pushed deep into the network.

Content distribution through a CDN is driven by consumer demand. As consumers request content and are served new video streams, CDNs determine which content segments are most popular and cache those highly viewed segments nearest to the consumer. Subsequent requests for popular content are delivered from caches positioned at the network edge, thereby reducing traffic demands on the upstream network.

On-net CDNs remain the most cost-effective and reliable method for delivering content to consumers, since the majority of streams are delivered over the operator’s own fully managed IP network. However, high-profile live events can place unexpected demands on CDNs that far exceed normal levels.

Efficient and cost-effective Hybrid-cloud CDNs for live event streaming

To address the challenges presented by live event streaming, service providers can leverage hybrid cloud technology. Hybrid-cloud CDN architectures can instantly spin up temporary stream capacity whenever it is needed to support traffic bursts. When on-net CDN capacity is exceeded, the demand overflow can be directed to servers located in the public cloud or to shared private-cloud infrastructure within the operator’s own network. Once the traffic spike has ended, cloud capacity can be automatically deprovisioned and spun down to save cost.

Using advanced software configuration tools, rules can be defined to ensure business policies and content rights agreements are enforced irrespective of how streams are delivered. With the ability to add capacity on-demand, operators can more easily support live event traffic spikes, while reducing dedicated infrastructure investments. In addition, operators can be confident that they can deliver the highest quality of service to all customers during high profile live events.

Strategies for winning the live streaming race

To win this race, telecom and video streaming providers need to adopt ultra-low latency solutions combined with hybrid-cloud CDN. Here’s how they can achieve this:

  • Chunked Transfer Encoding: By breaking the video into smaller, manageable chunks and delivering them progressively, the streaming process starts as soon as the first chunk arrives. It's like feeding a car engine with just enough fuel to keep it running smoothly without waiting for a full tank.
  • Low Latency Protocols: Implementing advanced protocols such as Low Latency HLS or CMAF can significantly reduce delays. These protocols are like optimised racetracks designed to minimise friction and maximise speed.
  • Edge Computing: Deploying servers closer to the user reduces the distance data needs to travel, akin to setting up hydration stations closer together in a marathon, ensuring runners (data packets) don’t fatigue and slow down.
  • Optimised Encoding: Faster encoding techniques are essential. Think of them as turbocharging the engine to ensure the video is processed and ready for delivery almost instantaneously.
  • Buffer Management: Finding the right balance in buffer sizes is crucial. It’s like tuning the suspension of a race car – too stiff, and the ride is bumpy; too soft, and the car loses speed. The optimal buffer size ensures smooth, uninterrupted streaming with minimal latency.
  • Hybrid-Cloud CDN: Leveraging hybrid-cloud CDN architectures to handle unexpected traffic spikes ensures that the streaming experience remains smooth and uninterrupted, even during high-profile events. This flexibility allows providers to scale resources on-demand, maintaining service quality and avoiding disruptions.

The business impact of live sports streaming

Telecom and video streaming providers who master these strategies will not only enhance the viewing experience but also solidify their competitive edge. In an era where consumers have endless options, the ability to provide real-time, immersive live sports experiences on all types of mobile and smart devices can be the differentiator that drives subscriber retention and growth.


In the world of live sports streaming, every second counts. Providers that prioritise ultra-low latency and hybrid-cloud CDN are not just improving the viewing experience; they are enhancing the very essence of sports fandom. By ensuring that fans can share, react, and celebrate in real-time, providers foster deeper connections and loyalty. In the race to capture and retain subscribers, ultra-low latency and hybrid-cloud CDN are the keys to crossing the finish line first, securing both viewer satisfaction and a healthier bottom line. Velocix’s award winning hybrid-cloud technology, and ultra-low latency streaming solutions are leading the charge in transforming the live sports viewing experience, ensuring fans never miss a moment of the action.

Click for more related content

Webinar: Why Hybrid-cloud video streaming? 
Video case study: TELUS migrates to Velocix's hybrid-cloud video streaming platform
News: Velocix Hybrid-cloud streaming solution deployed at TELUS
News: Velocix’s Hybrid-cloud CDN nabs NAB Show Product of the Year 2024
Products: Hybrid-cloud CDN | Hybrid-cloud Origin | Analytics
Application Note: Minimising live event costs with Hybrid-cloud CDNs
Book a call/demo

You May Also Like

These Stories on Ultra Low Latency