Surfline Leverages Teradek Bond Backpack for Live-Streaming
Surfline is the premier surf forecast and news source that surfers around the world rely on for determining the best time to hit the beach. Based in Huntington Beach, California, Surfline provides critical real-time information such as the swell, wind, tide and weather for just about every popular surf location in the world, along with the latest in global news and competitions. Surfline operates 500 live streams 24/7 on their website for people who want to see the conditions without going to the beach.
Reading the forecast is one thing, but being able to see the waves is another. By offering these live cams, Surfline gives their subscribers a visual on the beach they’re planning to visit so they know what to expect. In 2018, they decided to expand their live video services.
“Live streaming has helped us drive high-margin, incremental ad revenue — along with grow our subscriber base across two important social platforms, YouTube and Facebook – while creating an enhanced surf-camera experience that reinforces the strength of the Surfline brand,” says Marc Beaty, Senior Video Editor at Surfline.
Professional surfing hasn’t always had the best representation in traditional TV, and there’s a good explanation for that. Compared to sports in controlled settings (basketball, soccer, baseball, etc.), surf is limited to location, which makes it difficult and expensive to broadcast from. A surf competition would be spending tens of thousands of dollars to rent OB trucks and personnel to broadcast the program. It simply wasn’t economical.
Surfline decided not to follow the traditional route, and instead focus on another avenue for broadcast competitions: live streaming. With the majority of enthusiasts already on social media and Surfline.com, live streaming was the perfect way to introduce new content to their users. But this came with a challenge. Live streaming depends on the reliability of an internet connection, and beaches aren’t the best locations for that. So Surfline picked up the Teradek Bond Backpack.
Bond Backpack is a live streaming encoder that combines up to five 4G LTE internet sources into a single pipeline for publishing video over IP. The network redundancy and automatic failover eliminates any single point of failure in mission-critical broadcasts, meaning that if one internet source went down, the others would act as backups and keep the stream running seamlessly. Teradek’s Bond Backpack also includes four Nodes, which are high-powered 4G LTE modems that have stronger signal reception than carrier-branded modems.
It’s not enough to rely on a single internet source, especially on the beach where 4G LTE signal can be unreliable. So Surfline deploys the Bond Backpack at competitions around the world. Several cameras pipe video to their switcher on the sand, where graphics and audio are mixed in and sent to the Bond. This video gets delivered to Teradek’s Core cloud platform and distributed to both Surfline.com and YouTube Live. Doing this not only saves money, but delivers high quality video with broadcast-level reliability with multiple internet connections to keep the stream up at all times.