Deeper Dive—How Brightcove will handle one livestream, five channels and 10M viewers

Earlier this year, the Dropkick Murphys livestreamed their annual St. Patrick's Day concert. (Lauren Thomason / Events United)

Next Friday, the Dropkick Murphys and Bruce Springsteen will livestream a concert out of Boston’s Fenway Park. More than 10 million viewers are expected to tune in.

That’s a massive audience for livestreaming. For comparison, this year’s Super Bowl on Fox drew an average streaming audience of 3.4 million.

The event is starts at 6 p.m. ET and will be livestreamed across the Dropkick Murphys’ Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Twitch pages along with the band’s website. Behind the concert, Brightcove will use its streaming platform to hopefully ensure a reliable and scalable experience.

A few aspects of this livestream make it unique. First, the Dropkick Murphys will get to play live from the infield at Fenway. Typically, concerts at the ballpark are played in the outfield to minimize damage to the playing surface. Second, no fans will be in attendance. The stands will be empty. Finally, the livestream will be going out to five different channels, which complicates the process for Brightcove due to the variability in connections to third-party systems. It also presents a challenge since no one can be sure which platforms viewers will choose.

Charles Chu, Brightcove’s chief product officer, said this is the first time the Dropkick Murphys will be livestreaming directly from their website, so there’s no past statistics available to help understand what to expect.

Before the event, Brightcove needs to coordinate with the content delivery network provider to ensure proper provisioning of the infrastructure. But in terms of Brightcove’s own technology, Chu said “not to make light of it, but reasonably confident in systems. So, a lot of the prep work is related to the handoff points.”

That means the company has to be assured of the handoff of the actual livestream from Fenway, since Brightcove won’t have any of its team at the park during the concert. Chu also said Brightcove needs to coordinate with and ensure that all the social channels involved are prepared for that type of volume.

The fifth channel, the Dropkick Murphys’ website, will have the Brighcove player embedded for the livestream and since it’s the first time a live event has happened on the site, Chu said there’s some concern about the backend.

“We wondered, ‘Who’s doing the hosting service? Have they ever had millions of people hit their website all within a 10- to 20-minute timeframe?'” said Chu. He said that while that’s not technically part of Brightcove’s responsibility, making sure the ISP host can handle the traffic is a big part of the preparation.

On the day of, Brightcove will be monitoring the livestream systems to make sure the signal is being cleanly delivered to each of the channels. Brightcove has handled high-profile livestreams with millions of viewers before but it’s the multiple channels that makes this event unique, challenging and somewhat unpredictable.

“There’s usually a benchmark for something,” said Chu. “Your guess is probably as good as anyone else’s as to how many people are actually going to tune in and through what channel.”