Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) recently relaunched TrotsVision, their live and on-demand ‘always on’ channel. Australian harness racing fans can watch live and on-demand content, from live races across 27 clubs to exclusive behind-the-scenes content and insiders’ views into all the action between races.
A couple of years ago when tracks shut down due to the pandemic, Harness Racing Victoria needed a new way to engage with its audience, and video proved to be the best path forward. The focus on video and building up a digital presence helped Harness Racing Victoria retain its established fanbase, attract new audiences and widen its market.
Being able to show exciting new types of content at any time of the day or night has also increased fan engagement. According to Harness Racing Victoria, using video to reach viewers has more than doubled the organisation’s engagement with 18-35-year-olds in the two years since the service was launched.
Racing on Demand
Initially, the TrotsVision stream had only worked during live race meetings, and HRV relied on a third party to stream the video into their website. More recently, however, its popularity led them to consider developing ways to vary the content and increase its appeal to attract more viewers.
Cody Winnell, HRV’s General Manager of Media and Communications at Harness Racing Victoria, is passionate about harness racing, regarding it as both a sport and an industry. “In December of 2021, we launched our TrotsVision on-demand platform. This is a library of video content segmented into many channels, making an array of content available to harness racing fans to consume however they like.
Brightcove Dynamic Delivery
“Our content is a mix of live racing broadcasts, interviews, feature stories and magazine-style shows. All of our race meetings are broadcast live through TrotsVision, and the whole platform runs through Brightcove. Adopting Brightcove gave us the functionality to control our own digital narrative, educating fans and showcasing the horses and people who make our industry happen. That is how you win hearts and minds.”
Securing the Viewing Experience
On the operational side, with Brightcove’s video platform in place, TrotsVision now delivers a better viewing experience for fans. Because it is more reliable and secure than the earlier service, Harness Racing Victoria has been able to simplify their workflows and run TrotsVision as an efficient business.
Namita Dhallan, CPO at Brightcove, said, “Harness Racing Victoria records and stores their video on Brightcove’s regionally distributed cloud architecture – customers define their primary geographic storage area, which is always fully redundant.”
Regarding security, Brightcove uses both token-based and digital rights management (DRM)-encrypted live streaming to protect live stream revenue and content from piracy. DRM live streaming transmits video in an encrypted form that only authorized users and devices can play back. Token, also called two-factor, authentication requires users to obtain a computer-generated code, or token, before gaining network entry, and is combined with password authentication as extra layer of security.
Cloud-based Processing and Just-in-Time Packaging
Brightcove’s encoding and transcoding processes are designed as managed, cloud-based services. All the components run on cloud infrastructure in multiple regions, which improves availability and creates options for redundancy and scalability. Namita said, “For a given ppiece of content, our customers supply a single, high-quality video file in a mezzanine format during the ingest process during a race, for example. Brightove’s Video Cloud, which is our combined video hosting and publishing platform, then creates several quality levels of this file suited to a range of different screen sizes and network conditions.
“When a viewer presses play, Video Cloud uses information about the requesting device to determine the types of streaming expected. For example, the type of stream packaging might be a choice between HLS vs DASH, or MP4 if the device does not support any kind of HTTP streaming. The DRM required could be Widevine, Fairplay, Playready and so on, and the ancillary content might include closed captions or alternate audio tracks.”
From there, Brightcove’s Dynamic Delivery uses this information to deliver the appropriate type of stream for the requesting device in real-time. Without this just-in-time approach to transcoding and encoding, cross-platform streaming often requires the user to re-package and store the same content multiple times to support delivery to all target platforms and use-cases, which is inefficient and expensive.
Replays for Integrity
A special use case that Brightcove has made possible is replays. Stewards, the team of people hired to monitor and maintain the integrity of HRV’s racing operations, now have access to replay very recent races, helping them to confirm or dismiss violations promptly after they happen. The ability to access races on-demand, on a cloud-based platform, has saved the teams an immense amount of time and resources during race meetings.
“Maturing our video strategy in partnership with Brightcove has allowed us to significantly expand our reach,” Cody said. “Delivering our content in this way, including live racing, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with our trainers, drivers and owners, and telling the stories of these horses has allowed us to engage our fans in ways that haven’t been possible before.” www.brightcove.com