AWS Media Blog

FOX Uses AWS to Score with Digital Audiences for Super Bowl LIV

The come-from-behind victory by the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers in early February attracted an audience of 102 million viewers in the United States – including the largest ever streaming audience with 3.4 million viewers across a range of connected devices. This represented an increase of approximately 23 percent in online and multiscreen viewing over Super Bowl LIII.

To ensure flawless execution, Super Bowl broadcasters start preparing for the Big Game years in advance. They plan for the best and prepare for the worst in terms of an unexpected turn of events. The same was true for FOX, which engaged with Amazon Web Services (AWS), including AWS Professional Services, AWS Elemental Media Event Management (MEM), AWS Infrastructure Event Management (IEM), AWS Elemental Media Services, Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon CloudFront teams, to architect, configure, and test FOX’s end-to-end pipeline for quality, scale, and reliability.

With a tireless commitment to superior fan experiences, FOX and AWS combined years of experience, best practices, and technology expertise to deliver a secure, reliable, and high-quality live stream on Game Day through FOXSports.com, the FOX Sports app, FOX.com, and FOX NOW.

Live events – particularly large, high-profile sports – mean large, spiky, and unpredictable demand. In anticipation of this, FOX and AWS teams provided extensive architecture review and recommendations for addressing infrastructure scaling and peak load conditions; participated in multiple load and chaos testing scenarios to see how the system performed under steady-state load and shifts of loads under various failure modes; and provided hands-on configuration assistance, custom code, and implementation of specific features driven by the nature of the event. This was all coordinated through high-touch program management and checkpoints to ensure that underlying AWS compute, networking, and other services were adequately provisioned and that capacity was managed.

Planning and testing just ahead of the big game was particularly intense. Four and a half weeks prior to Super Bowl LIV, the FOX Data Services team engaged on a journey to deliver the first-of-its-kind, near-real-time framework for data intake and publishing, to support the largest sporting event in FOX’s history. The FOX Data Services, Amazon Kinesis, and Segment teams worked tirelessly, facing all kinds of challenges and failures during these few weeks, and just four days before the big game, these teams produced an extremely successful stress test, which peaked at nearly 10 million unique concurrently streaming devices per minute. This team effort and extensive testing resulted in the smoothest, most successful game day delivery possible.

Using four Amazon Kinesis Data Applications, the FOX’s test run simulated the equivalent of 9.6 million unique devices used concurrently, or an intake of approximately one million records per second. Data stream throughput was 50 Gb per minute and record throughput of 60 million transactional records per minute.

FOX Super Bowl 2020 Test Run

  • Concurrent Unique Devices equivalent – 9.6 M (intake of ~ 1,000,000 records per second)
  • 4 Kinesis Data Applications
  • Data throughput – 50 GB/min
  • Record throughput – ~60 Mil/min
  • Kinesis Scaling – 136 KPUs
  • Looker Dashboard refresh – once a minute

FOX’s Super Bowl 2020 production run ended up using fewer resources, and FOX was able to scale accordingly. Using four Amazon Kinesis Data Applications, the FOX production run supported 3.3 million unique devices used concurrently, or an intake of approximately one million records per second. Data stream throughput was 17 Gigabytes per minute, with record throughput of 21 million transactional records per minute.

FOX Super Bowl 2020 Production Run

  • Concurrent Unique Devices – 3.3 M (intake of ~ 350,000 records per second)
  • 4 Kinesis Data Applications
  • Data throughput – 17 GB/min
  • Record throughput – ~21 Mil/min
  • Kinesis Scaling – 62 KPUs
  • Looker Dashboard refresh – once a minute

On the 2020 game day, FOX transmitted live broadcast feeds from Outside Broadcasting (OB) trucks stationed near Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida to FOX’s Los Angeles Broadcast Operations facility. There, a pair of contribution encoders was used to deliver the feed through redundant paths into the cloud. Once in the cloud, the feeds entered into the AWS managed Media Services for processing and delivery including AWS Elemental MediaLive to create high-quality QVBR adaptive bitrate encodings, AWS Elemental MediaStore providing low latency origin capabilities, and Amazon CloudFront’s media enabled CDN, which allowed audiences to tune into the Big Game via their preferred apps and devices.

Because Super Bowl LIV was a competitive game throughout, there was little or no drop-off in online viewing. During the event, CloudFront exhibited extremely low error rates, and consistent service quality compared to all other CDNs used. By using CloudFront as one of their primary content delivery networks for Super Bowl LIV, FOX was able to deliver a secure, reliable, and performant stream at scale for a massive event to millions of users on game day. Ultimately, CloudFront carried a peak load of approximately 3 Terabits per second (Tbps) of traffic for FOX, and 6 Tbps of Super Bowl-related traffic across multiple customers.

To help maximize the various AWS services called upon to support Super Bowl LIV, all of FOX’s applications and websites interact with the AWS API layer. Built on Amazon Elasticsearch Service, Amazon API Gateway, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Dynamo DB, and Amazon Elastic Container Service, the AWS API layer enabled FOX to fortify its video infrastructure and to delight millions of fans.

Learn more about high quality and highly reliable live video workflows here: