The author is technology director at Australia Radio Network/ARN.
MELBOURNE, Victoria — ARN (Australian Radio Network) is one of the country’s leading broadcast and on-demand audio companies, “Defining Audio” with ownership or investments in 12 radio stations nationwide plus digital entertainment platform iHeartRadio and Australia’s number one podcast publisher, the iHeartPodcast Network.
We have a long history of providing our audience with the latest in streaming technology and were the first broadcaster in Australia to offer clients and listeners dynamic addressable content and interactive inventory.
To accommodate evolving technology, we have worked with several major streaming and cloud vendors. While we learned a lot in the process, the most obvious lesson was the challenge of managing a public-facing production platform. It’s not as simple as “set it and forget it.” The server farm required constant maintenance, which is time-consuming — particularly when dealing with multiple vendors.
Two years ago, we made the strategic decision to migrate our services to a hybrid hosting environment. We considered moving our streaming infrastructure to our private cloud, but we wanted to explore using a managed service that had experience with dynamic audio.
Our first goal for the transition was to simplify our streaming infrastructure to prepare for the future. We had multiple vendors and legacy systems supporting our live streams, making the existing infrastructure complicated and too difficult to scale. We also needed to increase our streaming capacity to accommodate an expanding number of audio channels and ensure suitable headroom for forecasted streaming listener growth.
Finally, we wanted to improve our reporting and analytics, as our management, commercial and content teams had no visibility of real-time or historical data.
NZME, our iHeartRadio partners in New Zealand, had transitioned to a managed service a year before us and selected StreamGuys as their provider. After speaking with multiple potential vendors, it was obvious there was a certain “peace of mind” and assurance that StreamGuys’ leadership brought to the conversation.
StreamGuys also works closely with the AdsWizz platform that we use for ad replacement and monetization, and their proposal provided the headroom we wanted for growth and a clear migration plan.
We commenced the migration of our streams to StreamGuys in March 2020. Their team was professional throughout the onboarding and user migration process. It is honestly the first time I’ve migrated so many streaming services with no noise. The “lift-and-shift” was seamless — and this was during the early months of COVID-19 when everything else was difficult.
StreamGuys now manage live streaming with midstream ad replacement for ARN’s iconic Australian brands KIIS, Pure Gold and The Edge, which are all integrated into the iHeartRadio Platform. StreamGuys handles our full audio payload, including radio simulcasts, DAB+ simulcasts, iHeartRadio stations and our expanding array of audio partnerships. StreamGuys hosts our audio streams through their Australian data center and is giving 100% uptime to our listeners.
StreamGuys’ SaaS suite provides flexible tools to help us monitor our operations. SGmetadata monitors what we are encoding from the studio complex to ensure that ad break replacement is being properly triggered. StreamGuys also created custom alerts in their SGalerts monitoring system that notify us of changes to our load balancing or other outages in our systems.
Our migration turned out to be perfect timing. During the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in streaming traffic across all ARN and iHeartRadio audiences. In a relatively short time, StreamGuys have delivered multiple significant benefits — doubling our streaming capacity, adding new commercial inventory opportunities and overcoming our data visualization issues.
The operational stress of managing the server farms and day-to-day operation ourselves is not missed, and StreamGuys have proven to be a valuable technology partner. In many ways it’s like they have joined the ARN technology team.
Radio World User Reports are testimonial articles intended to help readers understand why a colleague chose a particular product to solve a technical situation.
For information about this product, contact StreamGuys in California at 1-707-667-9479 or visit www.streamguys.com.