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Solving streaming of live interactive game shows

Interactive live trivia shows are pushing the technical boundaries for live streaming with their massive flash crowds of concurrent viewers - all gone within 15 minutes. The social interaction between the host and viewers, which creates a sense of community throughout the show, is also a challenge in itself; and let’s not forget the need to put on a fair game for everyone, making sure that questions and answers are delivered in perfect sync to the entire audience.

HOFr and Sventertainment are two examples of companies that are focusing on launching next-generation interactive live app experiences. When they introduced their new app formats to the market, they both shared common challenges. A key challenge was to guarantee that everyone received the questions and answers at the same time.

With traditional streaming solutions, there is no easy way of doing this. HLS-based solutions are built to buffer on the player side, and when latency has introduced the sync between different players and devices is lost. A question can be delivered with a 10 to 20 seconds’ time difference, making it impossible for all players to compete on the same terms.

Both companies also wanted to include a chat in their experience, keeping a dialogue between the show host and the audience. To make sure that this dialogue ran smoothly they needed a solution that would deliver the stream as fast as possible to the viewers with a fixed delay.

Thirdly, they needed a solution that was highly scalable and that could handle flash crowds of hundreds of thousands of concurrent viewers.

A Level Playing Field
To ensure a fair live game show, all players must receive the questions and answers at the same time. In a rapid-fire game, such as Sventertainment’s interactive live trivia show, Primetime, the slightest delay can kill a player’s chances.  The streaming solution, therefore, needs to guarantee sync of all elements – audio, video, and metadata – across all devices, networks, and locations.

Perfect Timing
Streaming to millions of users is expensive – and the cost grows with the length of the show. Reducing latency helps optimize show duration, keeping delays – and streaming costs – to an absolute minimum. The streaming solution should deliver the ultra-low latency needed. allowing fixed streaming latency controls, giving the power to set precise show timing. Each show becomes a tight, smoothly running operation, with no need for fillers.

Seamless Interactivity
Social engagement and interactivity are key to game show success. The friendly banter between hosts and audience, or audience members helping each other, create a community and a sense of togetherness. But for a smooth conversation, the streaming solution must stream video, audio and text as fast as possible and synchronized across all devices a combination of perfect sync and ultra-low latency to guarantee the best possible interaction between hosts and players.

Scalability
Modern game shows attract flash crowds. Millions of concurrent viewers can appear at once and be gone again in 15 minutes. While traditional CDNs struggle to cope with such spiky demand, cloud-based streaming solutions have a big advantage. A streaming solution that resides on top of Microsoft Azure with support for the different scaling schemas will ensure that platforms like HOFr and Primetime can dynamically scale up or down to match demand, before, during and after each show, using resources only when they need them.

Highest Quality Experience
Timing is critical to run a live quiz or prediction show, but it’s also important to remember the video quality. A large part of the audience will leave the show if they receive a spinning wheel or if the picture quality is just too poor. A streaming solution that is UDP-based with a built-in resilience against packet loss and with adaptive bitrate support (ABR) keeps everyone in the game, at the best quality possible. HOFr and Sventertainment eventually found a solution to solve their challenges and needs.

The Results for Sventertainment’s Primetime and HOFr
Sventertainment’s Primetime launched in Sweden in March 2018 and is now expanding across Europe with Germany and Switzerland next. The app is ranked as #1 in its category in the Swedish app store, growing rapidly every week. Primetime has seen tremendous success so far, with exponential growth – trending on all platforms.

HOFr launched its sports app during the final playoffs of the FIFA World Cup, 2018. With game show host Patrice Evra, HOFr immediately tapped into a global audience. Riding the success of the World Cup show, HOFr is expanding their concepts to other sports and regions, launching new live prediction shows aligned with major sports events, starting with the NFL in the US.

Want to know about the solution selected by Sventertainment and HOFr? Contact Filippa Hasselström, Director of Strategic Alliances and Product Marketing at Net Insight, speaking at OTTtv World Summit 2018.

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