Aspera Takes UFC Content to the Cloud

UFC is the world’s leading mixed-martial arts promoter
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Christy King

LAS VEGAS—The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the world’s leading mixed-martial arts promoter. We produce pay-per-view events that are broadcast to half a billion homes in 150 countries. We also produce a host of other video content around each fight, including shoulder programming, promotional videos, social media content, and much more.

Televised for the first time in 1993, the sport itself is relatively young, so we don’t have the decades of video footage available in baseball or football. When we decided to build an asset management system, we had about 45,000 hours of archival footage. Our first priority was to deliver materials around the world during, and immediately following, all our events. Once we had our delivery workflows figured out, we then had some breathing room to develop a plan for our long-term asset storage.

We chose Aspera for asset management delivery, as they provided a simpler, faster and more cost-effective solution. Our asset management vendor, Levels Beyond, already had an integration process built on Aspera’s platform so that made it really easy.

The company has grown so quickly since we introduced tapeless workflows that we underestimated how much content we would be producing and moving around. We assumed possibly about a terabyte on a busy day, but we’re now actually moving from two to six terabytes on an event day. Aspera Console allows us to track exactly how much content we’re moving around. We now save well over $5,000 per day simply by not buying tape stock.

We also use Aspera to transfer pre- and post-fight content to the cloud. Our global field production teams shoot short features during event weeks and upload them so that they’re available to all our website publishers. They were using FTP to transfer content to the host point, but files would often get halfway there and fail, so they’d have to start over.

We built an automated process around Amazon Web Services for video ingest, transcoding and distribution that allows us to push content to social media and web-based players quickly and cost-effectively. The remote production teams use an Aspera Connect API to open a webpage, pull video off their laptops, and drop it into a system that creates several versions for mobile devices, and also makes URLs available for the UFC website and our partners. Aspera-On-Demand grabs the file, wraps it and transfers it.

SAVINGS IN STORAGE COSTS
As soon as transfers are complete, encoding starts automatically with encoding. com’s cloud-based transcoding service, which also backstops on AWS. The resulting files are then moved into storage, ready for distribution. Moving to AWS is saving us 50 to 90 percent each month in storage costs. With Aspera, transfer speeds are fast, and the process is critically stable.

Aspera has allowed us to create a tremendous amount of content and distribute it with a very small team, which is crucial to promoting our sport and growing our brand. We couldn’t do this without the ability to deliver video as quickly as Aspera does. It works so well that we forget about it. It’s easy and reliable, so our creative minds don’t have to spend time worrying about delivery.

Christy King is vice president of digital technology research and development at UFC and has been with the company since 2006. She may be contacted through her website,www.cristyking.com.

For additional information, contact Aspera at 510- 849-2386 or visithttp://asperasoft.com.