CBS Interactive’s Chris Xiques details how his team built its CDN decisioning tool

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CBSi was able to build a “fairly sophisticated app” that allowed it to control which CDNs were getting traffic and how much traffic each of them were getting. (Kristin Dos Santos)

Livestreaming the Super Bowl is both literally and figuratively the Super Bowl of livestreaming. In preparation for this year’s event, CBS rebuilt its streaming workflow and designed new tools.

CBS Interactive used four different content delivery network vendors to handle the increased video traffic for Super Bowl 53. The company also built a new CDN decisioning app to better utilize each one of those CDNs. Chris Xiques, vice president of the video technology group at CBS Interactive, said building the CDN decisioning tool—with help from Cedexis—was “a big process.”

One of the first things CBSi was implement Cedexis’ system of radar tags, which are placed on public websites. The tags fire after the page has been loaded and they test things like availability and round-trip time, so a programmer like CBS can begin gathering data and statistic.

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“So, we’re not actually delivering from any of these vendors in the first phase; we’re just sending little pings and seeing how these different vendors handle the pings,” said Xiques. “Based on that, over months of collecting data before the Super Bowl, we were able to determine the vendors that we thought were performing best based on these tests.”

RELATED: Deeper Dive—Inside the streaming architecture CBS built for the Super Bowl

Once CBSi identified the set of vendors that were going to give it the best service and made sure that it had commitments from all of them that totaled up to a number it felt comfortable with in terms of how many terabytes it could deliver if we needed to, the company started building an open mix app. Xiques said that allowed CBSi to tune and run different vendors on a non-Super Bowl use case to see which percentage of traffic should go to each vendor.

“Once we got that going then we started adding in the ability to say, they may be performing better but they’re getting too much of the traffic and we’re starting to hit their commits so we’re going to want to have a system to roll off some of the delivery from the best performer to the second and third best performers so that we keep a balance,” Xiques said.

In the end, Xiques said CBSi was able to build a “fairly sophisticated app” that allowed it to control which CDNs were getting traffic and how much traffic each of them was getting.

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