In an insightful blog post Marina Kalkanis, Head of Core Services in BBC Future Media, Programmes and On-Demand, talks about the backbone of the BBC Olympics infrastructure – with Adobe Media Server in its core.

So where we’ve innovated is in our use of HTTP adaptive bitrate streaming.

ABR was tested in the Wimbledon HD HTTP streaming trial (interesting detail in blog post by Andy Armstrong) that laid the groundwork for the Olympics video.

Delivering live video using HTTP – the same way web pages are delivered to your browser – gives us much greater distribution capacity as it uses existing caches and standard HTTP infrastructure. This allows users to receive high quality streaming video even when we’re delivering the peaks around the big Team GB medal moments.

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We are using two flavours of chunked HTTP delivery: Apple HLS and Adobe HDS. We are still delivering RTMP – an older streaming protocol – for some legacy devices. [via BBC Internet Blog]

Simplified diagram of the live streaming architecture [Image Credit BBC]

Read more about the technology on the BBC Internet Blog. And in case you are curious about the difference between HLS and HDS, read this blog post for an in-depth analysis.