SBS streams 28 million hours of content with dashboards, synthetics and APM
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Established in 1975 as two radio stations, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is today Australia’s most diverse multiplatform broadcaster, holding a unique place in the Australian media landscape. Known for its distinctive, multilingual offering in more than 60 languages, the broadcaster reaches more than 10 million Australians each month across its television network. Today, SBS’s innovative digital offering includes the streaming platform SBS On Demand, available to audiences anytime and anywhere.
Delivering a seamless viewing experience
In 2022, SBS was the exclusive broadcaster of all 64 matches of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ in Australia, live and free-to-air. This included a total of 500 hours of content. More than 800,000 people signed up to the broadcaster's SBS On Demand platform to stream matches, highlights, analysis and commentary.
As the exclusive Australian broadcaster of the tournament, SBS needed to ensure that its streaming platform was able to handle the increased demand – while providing a seamless viewing experience to its users.
To do this, SBS needed to maximise the uptime and availability of its video streams, have full visibility of application performance, monitor the number of users accessing its platform, and determine which medium they were using to access the content.
“We were acutely aware that any major outage or a failure during a match could impact our credibility as a broadcaster. This made it critical for us to invest in systems which could help us to identify and mitigate any anomalies before they occurred,” says Jeremy Kelaher, Architecture and Support Manager, Enterprise Digital Services at SBS.
Instilling confidence and promoting collaboration
To prepare for this high-demand, high-traffic event, SBS partnered with New Relic to implement a solution which would provide them with the visibility of critical health indicators across the stack that only an all-in-one observability platform can offer.
To do this, SBS focused on three key elements: Custom World Cup New Relic dashboards to provide visibility through real-time data, New Relic synthetics to monitor end-to-end user experience, and New Relic Application Performance Monitoring to quickly identify anomalies or bugs impacting service delivery.
New Relic also helped SBS create KPI reporting through dashboards that formed a crucial part of tracking performance. Google's Core Web Vitals were also used to provide important user experience data to executives, assuring them that viewers were getting the high-quality streaming experience that they deserved.
New Relic synthetics monitored streaming systems and applications by simulating user journeys to protect viewers from an imperfect end-user experience. This proactive approach helped SBS to stay one step ahead, allowing them to identify performance bottlenecks and errors before they impacted viewers.
Intelligent alerts were also set up via AIOps and fed into Slack. Designed to generate anomaly reports both before and during the event, this integration allowed multiple teams to access - and discuss - alerts via an established internal communications platform.
“New Relic provided the team with confidence and helped us catch important issues,” says Jeremy.
“It facilitated conversations between the Enterprise Digital Services (EDS) team and DevOps, created confidence in decision-making, and enabled us to have clear visibility across infrastructure and customer experience when combined with some other more specialised tools. Having a full picture of the landscape was crucial for understanding whether there were errors or unusual user behaviour.”
Data delivering peak demand performance
Using New Relic during the World Cup, SBS successfully delivered 28 million hours of on-demand content. This included online audiences of up to 475,000 for the event final.
According to SBS, the anomaly detection created by New Relic allowed areas including latency build up in the automation environment to be addressed as soon as it was seen.
In addition to helping SBS maintain its reputation as one of Australia’s premier broadcasters of major events, New Relic also helped to drive cultural change by creating a single source of truth based on real-time data, driving developer productivity and ownership, breaking down team silos, and contributing to the establishment of a Site Reliability Engineering function.
Additionally, SBS’s DevOps team has adopted New Relic as its primary monitoring tool and it will be used to support future major live streaming events.
“New Relic democratised business and operational data to staff inside and outside engineering; enabling SBS to move towards increasingly continuous delivery. It has proven to be a vital tool for helping us to identify and address issues before they impact our audiences and demonstrates the accountability of our DevOps culture” says Jeremy.