by Windows Azure Team

The London Olympics were a massive orchestration of 302 gold medal events squeezed into just 19 days. Content providers were challenged to deliver flexibility to viewers in just about every time zone worldwide. As viewers wanted to choose what, when, and how they’d watch the events, be it live, mid-event and rewound to the beginning or on-demand after the fact.  The rise of smartphones and tablets has fed this need for anytime, anywhere, any device viewing. 

In April at the National Association of Broadcaster (NAB) we announced the preview of Windows Azure Media Services to support our partners and broadcasters in feeding the new anytime, anywhere, any device demand model.  For the London Olympics we partnered with Akamai, deltatre, gskinner and Southworks to create the first completely cloud-based delivery model with an entirely end-to-end digital media workflow.  We enabled broad device support including Flash, Silverlight, Xbox, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.  And we provided the tools, including real-time live-to-video on-demand creation, real-time highlight editing, and the ability to easily setup and manage simultaneous content channels, to easily meet the demands of viewers globally.   Windows Azure Media Services and our partners together supported France Télévisions, RTVE (Spain), CTV (Canada) and Terra (Central and South America), covering three continents and 30 countries with a potential viewership of half a billion people.  At any one time we enabled 35 fully live HD channels, and 140 high capacity channels worldwide.

By taking advantage of Windows Azure Media Services our partners and broadcasters have access to Microsoft’s global data centers.  They pay for what they need for the time they need it.  They can scale on demand with spikes in traffic or needs.  They get redundancy and failover.  And they also get a very easy, flexible, and agile environment to take care of their media workflow needs: ingest, origin, caching, transcoding, real time video highlight editing, real-time live to video on demand, and channel management.  This allows them to serve the needs of the anywhere, anytime, any device demand for content. 

Learn more about Windows Azure Media Services here and check out Scott Guthrie’s blog on the technical details of what we did for the Olympics here.