Score Media

Score Media leverages Akamai Origin Offload Optimization Package to handle peak demands without expanding infrastructure

“We’ve offloaded at least 90% of hits to our origin and sometimes as much as 98%. In fact, we offload the most when we’re experiencing peak traffic.”

Dale Fallon , Director of Mobile , Score Media

The Situation

Founded in 1997, Score Media is a leader in interactive sports entertainment. The company delivers sports entertainment across a number of assets, including The Score Television Network (”The Score”), Hardcore Sports Radio (SIRIUS 98) and other interactive venues including theScore.com. In October 2007, Score Media launched ScoreMobile iPhone Edition, a free web application that sends sports scores, stats and commentary directly to mobile phones. Along with the BlackBerry version that launched in June 2009, the application has been downloaded over three million times. ScoreMobile provides sports fans with up- to-the-minute information for a number of sports leagues, including MLB, PGA, NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB, CFL, NASCAR, NHL, NBA, MLS and EPL.

The Challenge

At peak times during events, ScoreMobile experiences orders of magnitude more demand for its content. In the spring of 2009, ScoreMobile’s servers were struggling to keep up with demand during the NBA and NHL playoffs. The company upgraded its content delivery infrastructure, but was unable to scale to support peak traffic. “With preparations underway for the launch of ScoreMobile for BlackBerry, we were concerned about supporting even more demand. We knew we needed to find a way to handle uneven demands and peaks before we launched our new web application,” explains Dale Fallon, Director of Mobile for Score Media.

The Goals

ScoreMobile needed to meet two key requirements to support its objectives:

  • Offload origin servers:  ScoreMobile wanted to support spiky traffic patterns without expanding its content delivery infrastructure.
  • Ensure fast website performance:  The company wanted to satisfy sports fans by delivering near real-time information about sporting events and games.

Why Akamai

Optimizing Origin Offload

Fallon was familiar with Akamai and turned to the company to see if it could help. Akamai recommended Dynamic Site Delivery to ensure fast delivery of dynamically generated content, such as up-to-the-minute scores and stats. Then Akamai suggested that Score Media consider the Akamai Origin Offload Optimization package delivered by Akamai Professional Services. “Dynamic Site Delivery was helping us deliver pages much faster than before, but we wanted to further offload our infrastructure. The Origin Offload Optimization package is designed to help Akamai customers fine-tune their Akamai configurations to achieve optimal origin-server offload, so it was the perfect fit,” says Fallon.

Taking Advantage of Akamai Expertise

An Akamai solutions architect within the Professional Services group assessed ScoreMobile’s situation to recommend the optimal configuration. “We were highly impressed with the Professional Services’ team. They took ownership of the project and went beyond our expectations in making sure that we put our best foot forward for the launch,” explains Fallon.

Handling Peak Demand without Fail

Akamai Professional Services was able to optimize ScoreMobile’s Dynamic Site Delivery solution configuration in time for the start of the 2009 NFL season. ScoreMobile sees hundreds of thousands of concurrent users on Sunday afternoons between 3-5 pm ET, all expecting to access real-time information. “With the Akamai Origin Offload Optimization package and Dynamic Site Delivery in place, we can easily serve over 1000 page requests per second and meet our users’ expectations,” says Fallon.

Delivering content quickly and reliably is critical to ScoreMobile ensuring a high level of user loyalty. “It’s hard to overstate how passionate sports fans are. Delivering timely information without fail is arguably more important on a mobile device than on the web. If we let our users down, there’s a good chance we’ll lose them and that will ultimately hurt our ability to attract advertisers,” explains Fallon. To date, ScoreMobile for BlackBerry has been downloaded about 1,800,000 times.

Avoiding Infrastructure Build Out

Just as important, Score Media has been able to avoid further building out its content delivery infrastructure. “We’ve offloaded at least 90% of hits to our origin and sometimes as much as 98%. In fact, we offload the most when we’re experiencing peak traffic. In addition, we’ve offloaded an average of 95% of our bandwidth,” says Fallon.

In January 2010, ScoreMobile supported its highest number of unique visitors in one month – 1.1 million. “With smart-phone adoption growing, we see lots of room to add many more users. Fortunately we can now support that much traffic and more,” continues Fallon.

The company estimates that it would have needed 10-15 times more content delivery servers to achieve its objectives. “Even then, we could never guarantee that we’d handle all traffic spikes flawlessly. Plus, we’d take on the added complexity and cost of managing a sprawling infrastructure and that’s not where we wanted to go. Because Akamai helps us deliver our service to our users’ satisfaction, we can focus on our core business,” says Fallon.

Pursuing Global Growth with Confidence

In keeping with its commitment to being a leader in interactive sports entertainment, Score Media is continually strategizing about adding new features and support for additional devices, along with expanding its reach around the globe. “Akamai gives us the confidence that we can deliver our service anywhere in the world so we can aggressively pursue international growth,” concludes Fallon.

About Score Media Inc.®

Score Media is a media company committed to delivering interactive and authentic sports entertainment. Created in 1997 in response to the growing desire for increased participation in the consumption of sports, the Company has now established itself as the home for hardcore sports fans. Score Media’s primary asset, The Score Television Network (“The Score”), is a national specialty television service providing sports news, information, highlights and live event programming in more than 6.5 million homes across Canada. Score Media also operates Hardcore Sports Radio, a satellite radio network available across North America on SIRIUS Satellite Radio and other interactive assets including theScore.com and Score Mobile. Growing from a team of 60 in 1997 to over 220 employees in 2009, Score Media is a revolutionizing interactive media company. For more information, visit www.scoremedia.com.

About Akamai

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