*Live X is a live production company based in New York who works consistently with Vox Media. We’ve written extensively about them using our Bond Pro for network redundancy at major streaming events and Live:Air for an iOS-based multi-cam production at Mojocon. Check out their work at SB Nation’s NFL Draft Party here and Mojocon here.*
Dubbed “The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History,” the Mayweather vs. McGregor match in Las Vegas, Nevada was one of the most anticipated fights ever. The match had enough publicity (and money) to bring Floyd Mayweather Jr. out of retirement and put his 49-0 undefeated record on the line against current UFC champion Connor McGregor. With so much hype built around the event, every major sports broadcaster wanted in on the action.
MMA Fighting was one of these organizations. A subsidiary of SB Nation and Vox Media, MMA Fighting is a blog-style website which reports on all aspects of mixed martial arts news. In partnership with Twitter, MMA Fighting wanted to broadcast a match pre-show that would run for 2-3 hours per day exclusively on Twitter’s live streaming platform. They brought in live production company, Live X, to handle the technical workflow.
“We’ve been working with MMA Fighting for over a year now, producing regularly broadcasted live shows every Monday and Thursday,” said Rob Baynard, Producer at Live X. “Twitter paid for exclusive publishing rights to MMA Fighting’s coverage of fight week, so anyone who expressed interest in martial arts or sports in general on Twitter was directed towards the show.”
A Rare Occasion
Similar to Live X’s CES 2017 production, the MMA Fighting coverage for Twitter was a rare circumstance. As one of the few social media platforms without a public API for their live video player, Twitter hand-picks the events they want to stream and only grants access to trusted organizations that they have exclusive partnerships with. Compared to other social platforms like YouTube and Facebook, Twitter is a more premium streaming service for high-profile brands and agencies.
This meant that Twitter had high expectations for MMA Fighting and Live X to not only produce a show with excellent content, but also ensure that the live feed stayed flawless all throughout the 3-day broadcast. With such high-profile clients like Twitter and SB Nation on the line, Baynard and his crew needed a reliable way to deliver high-quality live streams without any issues.
Held inside the MGM Grand Villages media center, the MMA Fighting show featured celebrity interviews, player profiles, in-depth analyses and general talk show banter that ran 2-3 hours a day.
To capture, Baynard and his team employed 3x Canon C300 Mark II video cameras with Canon L lenses. Each microphone and headset was mixed using a Sound Devices 688 field mixer and embedded in camera. The 3 cameras then fed SDI out into a vMix Production Bot Switch 8 (8/8 input/output switcher designed for on-the-road workflows).
After mixing and editing was done, the feed was pushed from the Swing 8 to a Teradek Bond. The Bond is a network bonding device that contains 5x USB ports for USB cellular modems, as well as an Ethernet port and WiFi capability. The bonded Internet connections ensure that if one Internet source encountered issues, the others would act as failover.
The Bond was equipped with 5x Teradek Nodes, which are high-performance USB modems with universal SIM compatibility. The Nodes contained 2 Verizon, 2 AT&T and 1 T-Mobile SIM cards, opting for different carriers to maximize redundancy in case one carrier had drops in connectivity.
After compression in the Bond, the live feed was pushed to Core, where it was simulcasted to YouTube (for post production editing and on-demand) and Twitter Live. Baynard and his crew achieved a 720p 60fps broadcast at 5 Mbps on Twitter.
Having worked with Vox Media on weekly live productions for so long, Live X knew that the Bond was indispensable for this show. This not only helped to preserve the reputations of every party involved, but also ensured that viewers tuned in and stayed watching the show as long as possible.
“Sustained viewership over time is really difficult in the world of live streaming,” said Baynard. “To get viewers to stay, your video can’t be lossy or low quality. Most importantly, your stream can’t go down no matter what. That’s why I brought the Bond for this show. The sheer number of connections we had bonded together pretty much guaranteed that Internet wasn’t going to be a problem.”
In addition, because MMA Fighting wanted a live recording of the stream for editing and on-demand viewing, Core’s simulcasting feature was equally important. It allowed Baynard to send a single high-bitrate stream to the cloud and distribute that feed to both YouTube and Twitter simultaneously.
With live streaming quickly becoming the biggest medium for media consumption, having an Internet bonding solution gives users the confidence to deliver a solid feed in the most challenging network conditions. Whether streaming from overcrowded locations or remote areas with little Internet options, having redundant networks ensures that you have the reinforced connection you need to stream high-quality content for your viewers. For SB Nation (and Vox Media), it’s one of their most reliable tools for providing an exceptional live program every time.
“Because we’ve had so much success using the Bond on shows like The Vergecast at CES and SB Nation’s Draft Party, [Vox Media] came to us expecting the same workflow for the MMA Fighting show. They really value the redundancy and reliability of it, and their editors love using Core to get private streams for clipping highlights. We’re big fans of Teradek products, so our clients become fans too.”
"Producers and originators of the official webcast of Times Square New Year’s Eve, Live X uses innovative technologies and multimedia to help industry-leading clients create captivating live events, increase engagement and build brands. livex.tv"