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RSI Affordably Modernizes Audio and Video Content Management on AWS

2021

Recognizing that its 7-year-old recording system was becoming outdated, Swiss public broadcaster Radiotelevisione svizzera (RSI) decided to modernize its infrastructure to adapt to the rapidly changing media industry. Its previous system was specifically designed for broadcast television—there was no way to stream content, and any changes required third-party involvement, making it too slow for a news environment. 

Using Amazon Web Services (AWS) solutions, RSI was able to improve the speed of its content creation and delivery and found a faster, simpler architecture that reduced infrastructure costs by 75 percent. And when its journalists required a more intuitive, modern interface, RSI gave them the tools they needed.

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We have a new system, new features, and a new interface. It’s a new way for us to work. We feel the freedom.”

Massimiliano Babbucci
Head of Digital Products Innovation, RSI

Finding an AWS Partner

Offering two channels of 24/7 live television, three radio stations, livestream programming, and on-demand content, RSI creates and broadcasts programming in Italian, one of Switzerland’s four official languages. One of its branches had already experimented on AWS using AWS Media Services, which make it fast and simple to produce, process, and deliver broadcast and over-the-top video. That served as a proof of concept for RSI. Intrigued by the potential of a cloud-based solution, RSI attended AWS Summit Switzerland, an event that brings together the cloud-computing community to learn about AWS. There it met representatives from Claranet, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner that specializes in network transformation and simplifying the management of IT. 

Italian-speaking and locally based, Claranet developed a prototype within 3 weeks that perfectly matched RSI’s requirements. “We showed the customer that transcoding only takes 4 or 5 minutes on AWS,” says Daniele Madama, Claranet Switzerland’s managing director of cloud solution architecture. “RSI has improved scalability, and it’s easy to implement machine learning, which is not possible with on-premises hardware.” Perhaps most importantly, those improvements make things simpler for RSI. “The AWS solution was born with the whole workflow in mind,” says Massimiliano Babbucci, RSI’s head of digital products innovation. “It’s focused on our needs. We don’t deal with problems ourselves.” 

Still, costs remained a primary concern for a public broadcaster with budget constraints. “We were worried about the cost,” says Ivan Canetti, RSI’s head of the online technical team. “As a video management service, we move many gigabytes of content.” But Claranet quickly provided RSI with an affordable AWS solution estimate. “The first time we saw the cost estimate, we were very impressed,” says Babbucci.

Modernizing RSI’s Content Quickly

In less than 4 months, Claranet developed a backend architecture that overhauled RSI’s workflow. With the assistance of Claranet, RSI installed two servers featuring AWS Elemental Live, a powerful encoder that processes video in real time for delivery to broadcast televisions or streaming to internet-connected devices. RSI reduced its overall infrastructure costs by 75 percent. Furthermore, RSI no longer needed to enlist an external provider to change a request or add a feature. “Alongside RSI, we decided on the best solution for every problem,” says Madama. “We supported each other in every discussion. It’s more than just a supplier and customer relationship.” 

RSI uses AWS Elemental MediaConvert, a file-based video transcoding service with broadcast-grade features, to convert live television broadcasts and previously recorded MP4 video files in preparation for web hosting. Then the converted data uploads to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. From there the file converts to an appropriate codec, ready for streaming. The entire process has accelerated: video that had taken RSI 20 minutes to transcode now takes 5 minutes using AWS tools. The entire timeline—from editing to web publishing—has decreased by 50 percent. Live shows benefited as well: RSI’s entire prime-time half-hour newscast is available online 7 minutes after it ends. Plus, RSI was able to expand its single video livestream to four online channels without having to purchase new hardware. 

To improve the accessibility of its website, RSI uses Amazon Polly, a machine learning service that turns text into lifelike speech, in this case a natural Italian voice. “The accessibility of our website is very important,” says Antonio Civile, head of digital at RSI. “A key component in our accessibility initiative is to create audio-described content from text.” RSI implemented the solution in 5 days, resulting in increased accessibility to more than 100 new content pieces daily.

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Finding Freedom on AWS

RSI built its browser-based interface to manage video and audio workflow. The enhanced user interface provides much simpler access for journalists who were accustomed to using a browser. The company also created a short video tutorial series to simplify training for the journalists who create and publish content. Training that previously took a full day now takes just 30 minutes. “We implemented these new features in a very short time,” Babbucci says. “It’s not only a cost benefit and a time benefit—it’s also a mindset benefit.” 

In the second half of 2022, an AWS Region will open in Switzerland. The AWS Europe (Zurich) Region will serve end users from local data centers, building the infrastructure to help companies like RSI deliver cloud-powered innovations and lower their IT costs. RSI plans to move forward with its cloud-centered system by examining the possibilities of integrating machine learning and artificial intelligence. Video autotagging, text analysis, and new methods of editing are on the horizon. “We have a new system, new features, and a new interface,” says Babbucci. “It’s a new way for us to work. We feel the freedom.”


About RSI

Public broadcaster RSI is responsible for all radio and television broadcasting in the Italian language in Switzerland. RSI offers two 24/7 television channels, five video livestreams, three audio channels, and on-demand content.

Benefits of AWS

  • Saved 75% on infrastructure costs
  • Cut publishing time in half
  • Cut training time from 1 day to 30 minutes
  • Built an accessible web interface

AWS Services Used

AWS Elemental Live

AWS Elemental Live helps you deliver content from studio or remote facilities to subscribers on a global scale, or directly to AWS Elemental Media Services, including AWS Elemental MediaConnect, AWS Elemental MediaLive, and AWS Elemental MediaPackage for processing, packaging, or origin storage. 

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AWS Elemental MediaConvert

AWS Elemental MediaConvert is a file-based video transcoding service with broadcast-grade features. It allows you to easily create video-on-demand (VOD) content for broadcast and multiscreen delivery at scale.

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Amazon Simple Storage Service

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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