STREAMING LIVE VIDEO - A lot more complicated than you’d think.

Hjalti Gislason

You’ve invested in costly sports rights, and now you want to monetize them by offering live events to fans using a subscriber-based streaming service. How difficult can it be?

The Basics

The basics of video aren’t all that basic: formats, compression, codecs, containers, transcoders, packagers, and adaptive bitrate streaming formats….all that takes a while to explain, so in this short article we’ll jump right into the specifics of live streaming!

Sports is the best known use case for live streaming but the same principles apply for breaking news, live concerts, moon landings or an egg hatching in a condor’s nest.


Timing is everything

Any sports fan will tell you that the big match must be watched live. A recorded event loses its suspense and appeal if you already know the final score (unless the match happens to be a classic). The next best thing to a seat at the stadium is your comfy chair in your living room at home, watching the game in high quality with minimal delay. But how does this happen?


The event is filmed and produced using standard broadcast equipment, or delivered by a third party production company. The signal is then sent to a master control room (MCR) for distribution to rights owners.

Enter the timestamps

A live event is premium content and any risks to its delivery must be minimized, so system redundancy is paramount.

The broadcast stream is duplicated for redundancy and encoded by two separate encoders that are synchronized using a finely granular system clock. Sometimes this is provided in the broadcast signal, sometimes the encoders must handle this.

Next, the two independent but synchronized video pipelines move through transcoding, encryption and packaging, before being distributed. Sometimes one is distributed and the other used for failover, and sometimes both are distributed to different geographical regions or content delivery networks.

If the stream fails in one video pipeline, the synchronization of the clocks ensures that failover to the alternate stream, region, or CDN, will happen without the viewers noticing.

Solution design

Vimond, together with our partners, offers customized solutions, adapted to the nature or location of the source signals, the audience infrastructure, and technical preferences. We understand broadcasting workflows, and know how to support each customer as they build their live streaming service.


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