Jarrod Krisiloff, the director of new media for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, admits he’s made a few wrong turns in serving up quality online video.
Krisiloff is responsible for serving video from the Izod IndyCar Series (the series that includes the Indianapolis 500) to an enthusiastic fan base. The Series doesn’t just stream competitions, but practices and qualification runs, too, all for free at racecontrol.indycar.com. While the company’s video is streaming perfectly now, that wasn’t always the case.
IndyCar began streaming events over five years ago. Since not all of its events were televised, it wanted to make sure IndyCar fans could find the coverage they wanted. Not only that, but it wanted to deliver rich timing and scoring information and multiple views to create an immersive experience.
The IndyCar new media team was completely self-taught at the beginning, and Krisiloff says there were problems with video from the start. While his team was able to stream events, service wasn’t reliable and he had no analytics to show who was watching. He also wasn’t sure what equipment he should be buying.
By chance, a business partner at a marketing company mentioned Conviva to the people at the IndyCar Series, and that’s when things began to turn around.
IndyCar began working with Conviva, and it was a good fit from the start. The people at Conviva started from the beginning and taught the IndyCar team how to successfully stream video. They helped create the online RaceControl player, helped set up multiple camera views and online track maps, and managed IndyCar’s CDN relationship. With the right assistance, Krisiloff’s team learned best practices and bought the right equipment, re-learning much of what they’d taught themselves.
“Anything that we had tried to figure out ourselves in the past, it was all wrong: bad habits, bad product. So we pretty much started from scratch,” says Krisiloff.
Once they were comfortable with their product, the people at IndyCar took their relationship with Conviva one step further and began using its Telemetry & Insights analytics tools. Conviva’s Pulse reporting helped Krisiloff measure the site’s audience and troubleshoot problem areas with live events.
While service was improving, the Series was still streaming at just one bitrate. Krisiloff found that there was a constant tug-of-war between quality and accessibility: if he served a low bitrate stream, everyone could see it, but people complained about quality; if he served a high bitrate stream, people liked the quality, but not as many could see it.
The answer was to turn to Conviva once again, and this time began adaptive bitrate streaming with Conviva Experience. Conviva’s specialty is predicting trouble spots that can make a video stream choppy or cause re-buffering, then serving the best video for the current connection. Once IndyCar switched to Conviva’s adaptive streaming, Krisiloff found that both the low-end and high-end customers were happy.
“The comment that we get a lot is, ‘Looks great on my plasma at home…HD streaming quality.’ That’s a common tweet,” says Krisiloff.
Things appear to be running smoothly for IndyCar and the Race Control player. In May—the Speedway’s biggest month, thanks to the Indianapolis 500—the site served nearly one million streams over 15 days of activities. Krisiloff knows he has one company to thank.
“Conviva has been crucial in our video streaming efforts,” Krisiloff says. “Not only have they been able to provide us with cutting edge technology, but they’ve provided us with the tools to measure our audience and to help improve the quality of the streams that we delver to our customers.”