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Limelight: CDNs essential for online sport

Content delivery networks more important than ever – especially during the European Championship

Limelight Networks, a global player in digital content delivery, has noted the increasing importance of content delivery networks (CDNs) for people watching sporting events on the Internet. As the digital trade association Bitkom has found, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of Internet users follow sporting events live online.

Major events, such as the Euro 2016 tournament being played out now, generate an enormous amount of traffic. According to the German broadcaster ZDF, over 100 million people around the world followed the opening match on June 10th, including 15 million in Germany alone. The UEFA estimates that the 51 games between the teams battling for the cup will attract a total of 1.9 billion viewers.

As the Bitkom study demonstrates, many of these viewers will watch the games on the web. However, data transmission over the Internet can show its weaknesses during major events such as the Euro 2016 championship. Too much strain can bring the public web to its knees, resulting in the livestream slowing down or stalling. People can find even a very short delay annoying – such as when they hear their neighbour cheering about a goal that only appears on their own screen several seconds later.

Yet this bad user experience is avoidable. With IP-based broadcasts, livestream providers can have a decisive influence on reliability and speed if they deliver their streams over the right infrastructure. With a private content delivery network such as the one delivered by Limelight, the traffic by-passes the bottlenecks on the public Internet and delivers a first-class experience to users. The video streams are always stable and fast, while the bandwidth can be scaled to fit requirements as necessary and peak loads are not a problem.

Quick spikes in site traffic also occur when fans look for information about who is playing that day or for live match commentary, match results, or post-match reports. Often without warning, up to 250,000 unique visitors and more must be served within a small window of time. Therefore, Arsenal Broadband Ltd has transitioned to the Limelight Orchestrate Delivery and Performance services to bring Arsenal team news as it happens to 100 million fans worldwide.

As the BITKOM study and other data shows, viewers increasingly use mobile devices to stream live matches. Limelight’s robust Orchestrate solution detects the mobile device and instantly transcodes the video stream into the right format for the user. That enables livestream and mobile viewers to enjoy the matches with no interruptions while remaining loyal to their preferred provider.

“Peak loads can come crashing down on you like a gigantic tsunami,” says Andrew Gray, Marketing Director, EMEA at Limelight. “That’s why companies need a content delivery network that protects them from traffic spike challenges and the risk of network downtime. Limelight has one of the world’s largest private content delivery networks and is therefore ideally suited to livestream delivery of events as big as the Euro 2016 championship.”

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