European League of Football readies cloud-powered remote production infrastructure for 2023 season in under three weeks with AWS
As European League of Football (ELF) continues to expand its footprint, onboarding several new teams in the last year, more fans want to tune into live matches via the official ELF homepage stream as well as popular European TV networks such as ProSieben, ran.de, More Than Sports TV and more. To accommodate an increasing volume of match broadcasts across networks, streamline production, and ensure a high-quality, low-latency viewer experience, ELF began looking to sustainably scale its production infrastructure with an assist from Amazon Web Services (AWS). Together with ELF’s production and streaming partner Novel Media and AWS Partner LOGIC media solutions GmbH, AWS helped realize a cost-efficient, cloud-based remote production pipeline for the league in under three weeks, just before the start of the 2023 season in June. The collaboration marks the first of its kind for a pan-European sports league.
Innovation through collaboration
The AWS team worked closely with ELF, Novel Media, and LOGIC Media from remote production architecture ideation and technical design through to implementation and testing, which took place on Saturday, May 13. ELF’s desire to enhance scalability while reducing production costs and its carbon footprint drove every aspect of the team’s design, as did ensuring a consistent, top-notch viewer experience. The resulting infrastructure combines a wide range of AWS services with 4G/5G signal transmission and signal distribution to over-the-top (OTT) technologies from partners. By reducing the volume of travel and equipment transport between match locations in Europe for 76 games, ELF expects to save more than 300 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
“The European League of Football is on track to reach more than half a billion households worldwide, so the scalability AWS-powered infrastructure provides is not only paramount today but will also make it easy for us to support continued growth and launch new viewer features in the future,” shared Zeljko Karajica, CEO of the European League of Football. “It’s also helping us reduce our carbon footprint, as we can significantly pare back the volume of travel and outside broadcast (OB) truck equipment that productions of this caliber typically require.”
A solid cloud foundation
With multiple stakeholders involved, the underlying architecture of ELF’s cloud-based remote production pipeline is robust. AWS services form the infrastructure backbone, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances that support production in a reliable, scalable, and performant manner. Several different blocks of solutions including 4G/5G signal transmission and OTT signal distribution were orchestrated by AWS, Novel Media, and LOGIC Media for streamlined integration. The pipeline also includes Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for scalable block and object storage; AWS Elemental MediaConnect for secure, reliable live video transport; AWS Elemental MediaConvert for file-based video transcoding; and the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network (CDN) for content distribution.
Developing for diverse match broadcast needs
AWS, Novel Media, and LOGIC media designed the architecture to support separate signal variants depending upon the match-up needs. Two separate signals are produced for highly anticipated matches. These include a graphics-only version of the world feed, which is fed to a local broadcaster that inserts presenters and L-frames. Sent out through the ELF OTT service, the second signal for these matches is available in four languages, each including ambient sound, and features ELF, Czech, or Polish presenters.
Standard match broadcasts entail up to four signals per production. The first is a version of the world feed distributed to ran.de, which contains graphics, some of which have a presenter but no inserts/clips, and supports audio in four languages and ambient sound. Another signal with ELF, Czech, or Polish presenters, and virtual insertion of partners playing on the field in up to four languages with ambient sound is sent to the ELF OTT platform. For matches including the Wroclaw Panthers or Prague Lions, a similar signal is fed through to the ELF OTT platform, and a Polish broadcaster or Czech broadcaster, respectively.
“What ELF has achieved in just three weeks with AWS is incredible, and a testament to the power of the cloud,” said Marc Aldrich, general manager, Global Media & Entertainment at AWS in ELF’s announcement. “The fan experience is central to any sports production, and by moving its production pipeline into the cloud, ELF will be able to create more memorable match broadcasts that let fans dive deeper into the game. We can’t wait to see how this architecture continues to evolve as well as what it enables.”
ELF is present in nine countries with 17 teams, including champions Vienna Vikings, Raiders Tirol, Hamburg Sea Devils, Berlin Thunder, Rhein Fire, Cologne Centurions, Stuttgart Surge, Frankfurt Galaxy, Munich Ravens, Leipzig Kings, Wrocław Panthers (Poland), Barcelona Dragons (Spain), Paris Musketeers (France), Fehérvár Enthroners (Hungary), Prague Lions (Czech Republic) and the Helvetic Guards (Switzerland). All franchises compete for a chance to showcase their talents in the championship game in Duisburg on September 24.
All ELF games will be available to view in the ELF Gamepass.