May 15, 2023


Unlocking the Power of Cloud: How TF1 Used AWS to Broadcast the FIFA World Cup to Millions of Viewers

AWS is leading the way in innovation with its cloud capabilities and scalability. It played a crucial role in helping French commercial broadcaster TF1 deliver coverage of the FIFA World Cup to millions of viewers. By providing cloud-based solutions for live streaming and video-on-demand, AWS helped TF1 reach a wider audience and deliver a seamless viewing experience.

AWS's cloud solutions helped TF1 reach a wider audience. It improved the quality of content delivery and managed storage needs more efficiently. It helped with real-time updates and the distribution of high-quality content.

Why is there a need for the cloud in broadcasting?

Live streaming and broadcasting are spanned across every sector, and sports is no exception. The number of viewers on digital platforms is increasing daily, which is crucial for the growth of broadcasters. According to the person in charge of the digital platforms at TF1, the digital broadcasting audience is now 20-25% of the total audience.

Here are some of the reasons why TF1 needed a strong cloud platform for broadcasting the FIFA world cup on digital platforms:

  • The cloud platform is needed as there is an increase in the number of mobile devices leading to a huge peak load in a very short time, especially at the beginning of the game or at any crucial moment. Millions of users tune in to see the live streaming.
  • Second, there was an economical challenge as personalised ads needed to be delivered effectively and as per the region at the key moment, such as before the start of the game and during halftime.
  • Third, delivering a glitch-free experience to millions of users with diverse mobile devices was needed. It must also work on different net bandwidths, delivering the best quality possible without interruptions.

How can AWS solve these problems?

AWS Cloud can address these issues and help with an uninterrupted streaming experience.

Here are some areas where AWS can help a broadcasting business:

  • The AWS cloud provides optimal performance at all times. With unlimited storage, it provides scalability so broadcasters can handle huge peak loads effectively without interruptions.
  • With no lag and real-time video content delivery, AWS ensures users get the best experience. It can also personalise the ad experience and deliver content based on region.
  • AWS can deliver glitch-free streaming for viewers even with changing network conditions. There are many streaming quality options, and they can be updated with the network's speed.

How TF1 prepared for the FIFA World Cup and implement AWS?

TF1 partnered with AWS to redesign the digital architecture of the streaming platform. TF1 was aware of the immense possibilities of the World Cup event and started preparing early for it. In 2019, the French broadcaster started working on the digital wing of its streaming and made some significant changes in the architecture.

After a thorough risk analysis, TF1 estimated that there could be 4.5 million viewers connecting to the digital platform 15 minutes before the start of a game. In simple words, that is almost 5000 new viewers every second, which indeed is a huge number. So, the French broadcaster TF1 defined processes and enhanced the scalability of the digital platform with the help of metrics and designed a system with AWS to boost performance with adequate security measures.

The game that put AWS's capabilities to the test

With strong preparation, TF1 got to check its capabilities in August 2020. On this date, the high-stakes game of the UEFA European Champions League was played between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

Here are some of the solutions used by TF1 for the game:

  • TF1 deployed Amazon Elastic Kubernetes for microservice architecture. They also used the Go language for quality performance.
  • The broadcasting platform used event-driven architecture for maximum scalability with Apache Kafka.
  • It used Amazon CloudFront for managing content delivery and distributing the video streams to the audience.
  • For real-time streaming, TF1 used AWS Elemental Live hardware encoders. These generated up to eight different encodings suitable for every device. It used 4K for TVs, high-definition (1080), standard definition (720), and various other formats without interruptions.

The progress and preparation

As the World Cup was approaching, French broadcasters started preparing for the risks from their previous UEFA European Champion League streaming experiences. They worked on the areas that needed improvement and prepared for the FIFA World Cup.

It was easy to anticipate that the majority of the audience would be from France, and it came as an obvious indication that scaling would be necessary as long as the French National Team was present at the competition.

With this, TF1 was ready with a hypothesis that traffic would be higher as long as the French squad stayed. So, TF1 started working with AWS and other vendors to define requirements, reserve capacity, and begin working on test and execution plans.

TF1 adopted the AWS enterprise plan to deliver the best of the FIFA World Cup experience to Millions

TF1 initiated working with AWS Infrastructure Event Management (a dedicated program of the AWS enterprise support plan) which offers guidance on architecture and operations to prepare and execute properly. AWS experts helped TF1 assess operational readiness, identify threats, mitigate risks, and execute solutions.

At the first attempt, the TF1 system crashed when 5000 new users were coming to the platform. But eventually, after working on it by eliminating unnecessary APIs and applying caching strategies, the TF1 system passed the potential peak load test. It was ready to be implemented in Qatar one month before the World Cup's first game.

The AWS service and premium support team were always ready to assist TF1 in this event. Moreover, TF1 was ready for every situation. With the help of community managers and social media owners, they prepared press releases and messages for every possible incident. There could have been a blackout at peak load, resulting in more than three million viewers looking at a black screen.

The TF1 team made a foolproof strategy for the event and gathered all teams across all operations, including the AWS technical account manager, in one room in case anything happened. With this, they were assured they could resolve issues immediately without any communication gap.

Cyberattacks with live streaming

There were enough opportunities for TF1 to check the strength of the cybersecurity and performance. With the increased load on the IT systems, broadcasters kept estimating and evaluating the traffic.

During the quarter-final of the World Cup, there was a cyberattack attempt on the system. There was a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack from a wide range of distributed IP addresses.

The problem was eliminated using AWS technologies like AWS Shield and AWS Web Application Firewall without affecting the user viewing experience. Later, AWS experts and the TF1 security team collaborated to block the pattern and IP addresses to prevent any activity in future games.

Cybercriminals tried new methods and patterns to find vulnerabilities, but all the security teams were ready to detect and mitigate them. The potential threats were prevented by filtering rules that blocked malicious activity without affecting the streaming performance.

The World Cup Final experience

When Argentina was leading in the World Cup Final, the French platform observed a decline in traffic. As soon as the French team scored, the traffic started to soar, and all dashboards showed a sudden return of viewers.

During peak traffic conditions, more than 3.2 million viewers were watching simultaneously. TF1 was working with four CDNs, and it needed 3.6 terabits per second of bandwidth at that time. In France, network conditions range from 1 Gbs to 3G networks in remote areas, and AWS delivered a seamless watching experience in all these conditions.

Streamline Your Business Processes With AWS Solutions

AWS serves the world with more than 450 edge locations, which has helped in this sporting event. With the help of Amazon CloudFront, 18 broadcasters other than TF1 helped in the seamless delivery of live streaming of the FIFA World Cup.

The FIFA World Cup is one of the world's most-watched sporting events, and AWS delivered excellence with this. AWS is not only for big businesses. With immense possibilities and countless services from AWS, it is helping businesses of every scale. Want to utilise AWS for your business? Contact us now!

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