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Kiswe Hosts the World’s Largest Paid Online Concert on AWS

2021

Startup Kiswe hosts ticketed live streaming events for fans around the world, including concerts, sporting events, and live television. Virtual events face significant technical challenges with elasticity and latency, and since Kiswe’s events require each viewer to have a paid ticket, the company must contend with additional security and verification challenges. Kiswe needed a solution that could enable the security, low latency, and elasticity it required to host large-scale live streams while fostering effective fan engagement. With the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kiswe also needed to prepare for an increase in demand and be able to scale to unprecedented traffic.

In June 2020, the company hosted a live virtual concert featuring South Korean supergroup BTS, and the concert saw resounding success. “That was our first large-scale event globally—it reached over 190 countries,” says Khee Lee, chief monetization officer at Kiswe. “With 756,000 viewers, we set a Guinness World Record for the largest live streaming ticketed concert.”

Kiswe was able to execute this event, along with two additional live BTS concerts and a multitude of other live streaming events, without any major issues by using a suite of Amazon Web Services (AWS) solutions. Amazon CloudFront—a fast content delivery network service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency and high transfer speeds—is integral to the company’s success. Kiswe continues to host live streaming events on AWS, processing millions of API calls and supporting billions of chat messages from fans around the world.

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The great thing about using Amazon CloudFront and Amazon CloudWatch is that everything is at your fingertips and simple to interlink.”

Scott Miller
Vice President of Engineering, Kiswe

Fostering True Fan Engagement

Kiswe focuses on transforming the live video experience through fan engagement and two-way interactions. But it can be challenging for companies to achieve the security, reliability, and value protection for customers while live streaming large-scale paid events, such as Kiswe’s BTS concert series. “We needed to make it so that only people with valid tickets could enter,” says Scott Miller, vice president of engineering at Kiswe. “We also wanted to make it so that the ticket couldn’t be shared. It’s very easy for people to give out a login password to all their friends, so we needed to limit the number of active viewing sessions per user.”
 
Aside from ticketing, the company must also maintain video quality and fan engagement. Kiswe separates pools of fans by shared characteristics, such as region, and places them in smaller chatrooms to prevent a giant, cumbersome chat pool. In these chatrooms, fans can speak to each other, share emojis, cheer for the artist, and even appear on fan walls for audience participation viewable by the artist or other fans. This real-time feedback enables the artist to gauge the excitement of fans as they react to the show, adding another level of engagement to the live streaming experience. These features set Kiswe’s events apart from other virtual concerts that lack this functionality.
 
Since Kiswe’s business model depends on seamless viewing from start to finish, any issue could be harmful. “If any bottleneck arises, it’s similar to a highway,” says Miller. “Traffic’s moving at a good pace, but if there’s one issue, then everything comes to a halt. And when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people accessing the event within minutes, that’s the biggest challenge—particularly when it’s a two-way interaction.”

Kiswe needed a solution that could securely deliver low-latency video and handle rapid scale. And with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company realized demand for virtual events would increase and needed to accelerate the solution to meet it. To host its live streaming events and remedy these issues, Kiswe turned to Amazon CloudFront and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2)—a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud—to scale its events based on demand and enable low-latency viewing around the world. The company supports this infrastructure using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance, and Elastic Load Balancing, which automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets.

Breaking World Records on AWS

Using AWS solutions, Kiswe can support immense live streaming events and foster connections between thousands of people around the world. In October 2020, Kiswe hosted two BTS events that served almost one million viewers. “During the October 10 weekend BTS concerts, we processed 250 million API calls and sent out eight billion chat messages,” says Miller.

Despite reaching unprecedented traffic on a global scale, the Kiswe team has improved the live event experience from concert to concert. As a result of its work and the suite of AWS solutions, the Kiswe team can now rapidly configure the cloud concert solution for large online audiences in any part of the world. “Early in the year, we were very concerned about mass global scaling. But we reached the point where we could scale globally to handle more online concert viewers for a single paid event than anyone could likely sell tickets to.”

Amazon CloudFront enables real-time monitoring, securely delivers low-latency video, and supports Kiswe’s existing video processing software. And the multiple AWS services that this solution uses work together seamlessly. “Rather than having the content delivery network pulling from one single centralized site, we have it distributed closer to where the viewers will be,” Miller says. “And we do that through our own software running on Amazon EC2 instances that we set up for video.” Kiswe also uses Elastic Load Balancing for Amazon EC2 instances to handle fan interactivity, logins, chats, and ticket verification.

Kiswe chose AWS to support its live streaming events based on the customer support team, scalability, and solutions that AWS provides. In particular, the Kiswe team built on AWS so that it could scale based on demand. “We could use the same infrastructure for 10,000 people or one million people,” Miller explains. “And it’s really just about enabling the scripts involved in deployment to scale up and handle it.”

Hosting this infrastructure on AWS enables the company to deploy changes rapidly. Using its combination of AWS services, Kiswe can manage each aspect of its live streaming events seamlessly, whether the team is adding the monitoring of Amazon CloudWatch—a monitoring and observability service—onto Amazon CloudFront distribution or performing cost accounting for an individual event. “The great thing about using Amazon CloudFront and Amazon CloudWatch is that everything is at your fingertips and simple to interlink,” says Miller. “If I want to make a new webpage for a concert, and I want Amazon CloudFront in front of it, I could literally do that in 2 minutes.”

Increasing Interactivity across the Globe

Kiswe continues to host large-scale global concerts and other virtual events using Amazon CloudFront and Amazon EC2. As it moves forward, the company hopes to increase interactivity to further set itself apart from its competitors.
 
“Every feature that we’re incorporating to power these virtual experiences is meant to enable people to contribute in a way where they feel like their contributions matter,” says Glenn Booth, chief operating officer at Kiswe. “You can do that with cheering functions, with audio, and also through video functions. And you’ll see more ways for people to connect in the coming months.”

About Kiswe

Headquartered in New Jersey, Kiswe is a cloud-based video company that creates real-time live streams to engage digital audiences and unique communities around the world. With its award-winning technology, Kiswe unlocks new ways for people to stay connected.

Benefits of AWS

  • Broke the world record for largest paid online concert
  • Scaled to support 756,000 live viewers
  • Enabled low-latency live streams globally
  • Processed 250 million API calls
  • Supported eight billion chat messages 

AWS Services Used

AWS CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment.

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AWS CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring and observability service built for DevOps engineers, developers, site reliability engineers (SREs), and IT managers.

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Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

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Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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