AISportsWatch aims to balance the scales between top clubs and amateur teams by providing an online platform for broadcasting the matches of smaller teams across a range of sports. The company has developed its own cutting-edge camera built with multiple lenses, arranged side by side, which provide full 180-degree coverage of a sports field at all times.
AISportsWatch then uses AI to automatically knit together the images from the lenses, identify where the main activity is, and focus the video feed there. The result is a seamless, edited, professional-looking live feed that ensures viewers never miss the action. Alongside this AISportsWatch has created a range of AI tools that collects data on everything that happens on the playing field, helping clubs refine their coaching strategies and pinpoint areas for training and improvement.
When AISportsWatch first launched in 2017, it covered a few dozen matches every weekend in its native Germany. Even then, an on-premises infrastructure didn’t have the capacity to broadcast livestreams without investing a huge amount into hardware, so the company built its initial platform on the cloud.
By mid-2018 however, AISportsWatch had increased both the number of matches and types of sports it was broadcasting, while working on higher quality cameras and improved AI that ingested and analyzed even more data. This required increasing amounts of resources and the existing cloud infrastructure started to prove unreliable, with unplanned outages coming at crucial times when demand was at its highest.
In one case, AISportsWatch had to resort to manual methods in order to deliver an unexpected 50,000 parallel accesses from football fans tuning in to watch their favourite team.
Today the company partners with more than 2,000 clubs to livestream football, basketball, and, most recently, ice hockey matches in full 1080p HD.
To achieve such an all-encompassing platform at such scale, AISportsWatch turned to Google Cloud and chose Go Reply, Google Cloud Premier Partner, to help reshape the company’s architecture for a smooth switchover to the Google Cloud environment.
The challenge for us is to maintain a consistent level of quality across all our livestreams. As we grew bigger, we started to have problems with stability and outages. We needed a new infrastructure that could scale on demand without compromising our standards. For us, that was Google Cloud.
AISportsWatch looked for an alternative cloud platform and chose to trial some of its services with Google Cloud. After a few months AISportsWatch was ready to complete the migration and teamed up with Go Reply, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, who within one month helped reshape the company’s architecture for a smooth switchover to the Google Cloud environment.
Go Reply enabled the company to take advantage of the flexibility of Google Cloud to design an infrastructure that can adapt to the unique challenges of its work. For the livestreaming functionality, the vast majority of traffic is now handled with microservices orchestrated with Cloud Functions, while the stateful applications run on App Engine. Their AI tools now run on Compute Engine virtual machines, which can scale up or down as required. Meanwhile, Cloud Storage provides a secure, easily accessible way of storing the huge amount of streams that AISportsWatch has accumulated over the years.
With Google Cloud, AISportsWatch has expanded its business in all directions and improved its service to customers. The ability to customize the hardware on its virtual machines on Compute Engine allows AISportsWatch to ingest and analyze even more information than before. Since moving to Google Cloud, the company has accumulated around 220 terabytes of data including video and match statistics and livestreams around 300 matches every weekend.
“Not only can we analyze and track the game in real time, we can also determine the players and ball position, while simultaneously providing the user with a full HD stream,” says Marvin. “None of it would be possible without the flexible scalability of the GPUs available with Google Cloud.”
AISportsWatch is also looking beyond its proprietary AI tools and experimenting with Video Intelligence API which could help the platform track players and objects more precisely, for more useful statistics. Growth is however still the main objective for the company, which plans to stream around 1,500 matches every weekend by the end of next year, a fivefold expansion.
“If we want to keep growing, it makes sense to keep using Google Cloud”
Speed played a big factor in the success of the solution - “We were up and running very quickly with Google Cloud,” says Marvin. “We found it worked really fast and well for us.”
Even as the load on its infrastructure has increased, AISportsWatch has been able to make its livestreams an even smoother experience for customers. “With Memcache in App Engine, we’ve reduced our page load times by 40% and kept them constant, even with high traffic loads when we’re streaming 50 matches at the same time,” says Marvin.
Google Cloud has a simplicity and ease of use that has also improved the lives for Marvin’s team of developers. The combination of Cloud Functions and Compute Engine has cut deployment times from 30 minutes to around five minutes, leading to more updates and features for AISportsWatch’s customers to enjoy. One popular example is a coaching tool that can automatically generate highlight clips and game summaries in real time.
“Cloud Functions makes it easy to deploy code, so it’s a real highlight for us. It’s fast, cost efficient, and we know it can scale up to cope with high request volume, without the need for us to get involved. It’s made our lives much easier”
The stability of the platform is perhaps the most crucial benefit in terms of performance as a result of Go Reply's solution.
As AISportsWatch grew bigger they started to have problems with stability and outages, needing a new infrastructure that could scale on demand without compromising their high standards. Go Reply ensured a fluid migration and a stable solution that ensured AISportsWatch customers never miss a minute of the action.
“We used to crash for maybe an hour every week, but since we moved to Google Cloud, the infrastructure hasn’t failed at all”
AISportsWatch offers a cost efficient and fully automatic production, activation, and broadcasting service that delivers video content to fans of more than 2,000 sports clubs. AISportsWatch uses Cloud Functions and Compute Engine virtual machines to power its all-inclusive, AI-led sports broadcasting platform for fans of all kinds of sports.
Go Reply, part of the Reply Group, is a Google Cloud Premier Partner providing services in the following areas: cloud strategy and migration, cloud hosting, big data, machine learning, PCI/ISO compliance and security management, productivity services and fully managed 24 x 7 services to support your business-critical applications.