AWS shares its solution for streaming England’s wheelchair football league (WFA)

Established in France in 1970 and formed nationally in England in 2005 by the Wheelchair Football Association (WFA), powerchair football is a quite growing parasports. Each year, the best English teams compete in the WFA National Premiership and Championship finals. In recent years, powerchair football has cultivated an international fan following.

Leveraging guidance from an Amazon Web Services (AWS) team in the UK and more than $25,000 in funding secured through the AWS Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ID&E) Innovation Fund, the WFA had established a workflow using AWS Elemental MediaLive, an AWS service for real-time video encoding in the cloud, to live stream match coverage to YouTube.

The WFA holds 28 national league matches over ten successive weekends. All events take place in a university gym in Nottingham. Traveling for games can be difficult and matches don’t occur on the same weekends. These constraints and venue capacity restrictions have historically made engaging spectators in the sport challenging.

Live streaming was the obvious answer to broadening access to live matches. Working hand in hand with the WFA, the AWS team weighed all available workflow options with an eye on creating the smallest possible footprint in terms of space and power. This used LiveU Solo taking the feed from camera to AWS Elemental MediaLive for live transcoding and Singular.Live for motion graphics insertion before being delvered to YouTube for distribution. AWS worked with the WFA and other sports customer requirements to build out an application that provides live production control of MediaLive and Singular from an interface. This solution is now available as an opensource project for other federations and customers to use.

After the first couple of weekends working with the new equipment and workflows, Alex Dowding noted that: “Our set up and take-down time has now been reduced from 3 hours per day, to less than an hour. With the new commentary set up, we no longer need someone with technical know-how to set-up commentators. Already we have gone from limited commentary to all games now either having one or two commentators, most of whom are wheelchair users and players themselves, adding tremendous game insight for the viewing audience.”

Since the launch of the WFA YouTube channel, seasonal views have risen from 14,000 to 55,000 and average view times have increased by nearly six minutes. Unique viewers are in the thousands.

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