AWS Media Blog

The transformation of live event streaming with AWS Elemental Link

Authored by Brian Lisi, CEO, iOiO. The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

iOiO provides automated solutions for creating end-to-end video workflows by productizing the power of AWS Media Services and cloud scalability. With over 12 years of experience in video, iOiO’s automation and orchestration layer enables the full potential of these services through an intuitive, easy-to-use interface and APIs. iOiO serves video providers, service integrators, or broadcasters requiring immediate and cost-effective solutions for live streaming, event scheduling, channel playout, and monetization with server-side ad insertion.

In early 2020, the ground was already shifting on how live-streaming events were produced, so what does the future of live streaming and video creation look like in 2021 and beyond? With live events canceled or postponed across the globe, many event producers are finding new ways to present content in a virtual setting. But in this fast-changing world, what about those outside of the media industry? Many organizations that previously had no strategy for or investment in live virtual events are now embracing this approach as a formidable solution to operational and business challenges.

Streaming media history

In the past, Real-Time Media Protocol (RTMP) was the most relied upon system for streaming media. Video encoders pushed out RTMP for delivery to consumers’ devices. Video streaming workflows were relatively straightforward.

Today, RTMP is still widely used for video streaming. However, it doesn’t support High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC or H.265) and no longer has native support within mainstream player applications. Even with the introduction of more reliable protocols like SRT and RIST, acceptance of new protocols in software and hardware encoders and decoders is low compared to RTMP and will take a few more years for broader adoption.

The media industry has continued to rely on RTMP-based workflows, with video streams pushed to the cloud, transcoded, and repackaged before they are ready for distribution in a format that current viewing devices support. Most legacy on-premises hardware and software require ongoing, location-based expertise to install, manage, and troubleshoot. This is an unsustainable, difficult to scale, and expensive approach to live event streaming. Building a live streaming workflow using AWS Media Services adds flexibility and supports a broad range of protocols, but unless a live stream originates in the cloud, it’s a challenge to deliver content reliably and with high quality from the ground to the AWS Cloud for processing and distribution.

Transitional changes

Four years ago, our company was challenged with contributing high-quality live video into the cloud. We were live streaming close to 8,000 live events a month, and since video acquisition required reliable internet access to maintain connectivity, our Live DevOps team worked overtime where public internet was not reliable or even available.

Last year, my team and I were at a music festival that spent a great deal of money on production but was hard-pressed to send us the RTMP feed. The video quality delivered was not broadcast-grade, lacked any error correction, and had a high risk of feed loss and degraded quality. This was due to many factors, including poor network connectivity on site, RTMP software issues, lack of IP infrastructure, and very little knowledge and experience outside of satellite delivery.

The link to democratized technology

Today, a new transport format and streaming model is available, a smarter and less expensive means of sending a live video signal to the cloud: AWS Elemental Link.

Using a combination of advanced compression hardware and cloud encoding video workflows, AWS Elemental Link makes the entire video delivery process faster and more efficient. With support for HEVC, video can be sent to the cloud at high quality, with less bandwidth, and with more resilience while maintaining good video quality at 1080p, and the ability to use 720p delivery at bitrates of less than 1 Mbps.

With AWS Elemental Link, internet-challenged areas are now capable of live streaming media, which is encrypted and transported using a network resilient protocol supporting bitrates from 500 Kbps to 50 Mbps.

Link is truly plug-and-play. Once connected on site, the device supports remote monitoring and configuration, making it easy to control with remote support, and providing the ability to manage a fleet of encoders around the globe without requiring physical access or onsite expertise.

The only device requirements are power, Ethernet connectivity, and a video source, making the overall product an excellent addition to AWS Media Services by closing the loop on the ground-to-cloud contribution. AWS Media Services are an integrated suite of services that allows video providers to increase innovation and market responsiveness, maximize audience reach and engagement, and reduce total cost of ownership. Seamless integration with other AWS services and third-party applications make AWS Media Services the core elements of a cloud-based, end-to-end video workflow.

Bringing live streaming everywhere

Access to transformational products like AWS Elemental Link, along with the necessity of virtual communication and events, will create massive opportunities for seasoned professionals and new content producers alike.

To lower the barrier to entry and accelerate access to AWS Media Services for a broader audience of non-technical users, companies like iOiO provide automated solutions for creating end-to-end best practice video workflows to anyone using Link. A simplified, intuitive interface also handles Link fleet management functionality. Choose a Link encoder, choose a video workflow, and you are live in seconds.

iOiO customer use case

BuzzCast, an enterprise virtual events platform, launched in April 2020 with a video-first focus. Its mission is to enable large corporations to provide broadcast-grade linear viewing experiences and professional live-to-VOD recordings at global scale. However, industry-wide teleconferencing products had low-quality content output and were built for small group meetings rather than large events. BuzzCast also faced ground-to-cloud video acquisition issues with simultaneous guests to support remote cloud production.

Using iOiO’s advanced automation and utilization of AWS Media Services and AWS Elemental Link, BuzzCast has solved its video ingestion and delivery issues, and has seen substantial growth in new business, video engagement, and views.

The future of streaming in a virtual world

In 2020, building a cloud-based video processing and delivery model that revolves around virtual events, hybrid events, and in-person events is essential. New hardware, like AWS Elemental Link, coupled with automated live event workflows will allow event production professionals, live streaming companies, broadcasters, and video providers to scale their businesses significantly.

With iOiO’s solution, common users, like artists, churches, households, and schools, are also empowered to create more meaningful connections with their community and the world by streaming and sharing the ingenious content they are already creating.

iOiO is the future of streaming in this virtual world.

About the author

Brian Lisi is the CEO of iOiO, a SaaS company focused on productization of AWS Media Services. His mission is to help companies navigate their journeys to the cloud through automation tools and products that speed up adoption and usage.

Prior to Founding iOiO, Brian was CEO and Co-Founder of the OTT streaming service, Qello. Qello was best known for its flagship product, Qello Concerts. He also launched Qello Media Solutions (QMS), which offered white-label platform services with an emphasis on sports, music, and live streaming.