How ESPN Uses Technology

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2007-10-22 Print this article Print

to Deliver Sports"> For those viewers hungry for more than just scores and updates, ESPN also offers Mobile TV, which uses UHF spectrum—not cellular signals—to pipe TV through Web phones with just a few seconds latency. But does ESPN struggle with getting consumers to buy into mobile content, which must be viewed over small, sometimes hard to navigate mobile phone screens?
"Ease of use is a tough one," said Zehr, likening it to the early days of dial-up access on the Internet. "We spend a lot of time trying to make things easier and to try and influence the carriers. Its getting people habituated to it."
To read more about the mobile content explosion, click here. Thats not the only thing that Zehr worries about. gets ridiculously big spikes in traffic, which is handled by servers housed in a datacenter in Seattle. "Our datacenter is highly scalable but sports sees peaks no one else sees," Zehr said, noting that the opening weekend of NCAA basketball spurs big peaks, along with the passing of sports celebrities. "Its something I lose a lot of sleep over," Zehr said of the traffic spikes. Currently, the datacenter for ESPNs digital assets is comprised of a lot of dedicated servers and storage designed for specific functions. Click here to read more about the hunger for virtualization. There are no quick knobs the administrators can turn to move systems from, for example, baseball to football to accommodate traffic spikes. Eventually, Zehr said he hopes to move to a virtualized environment, such as software from VMware, or physical servers from Azul Systems, which allow companies to scale capacity and processing power without adding physical infrastructure. ESPNs TV assets, the companys old-line, bread-and-butter business, use their fair share of IT, too. Chuck Pagano, executive vice president and CTO, who is responsible for the technology that supports ESPNs vast TV network, took eWEEK first to the "ingest room." Located in the campus digital center, the ingest room is spacious and loaded with television screens, computers and enough seats for 65 people crunching data. Next page: How ESPN Uses Technology to Deliver Sports


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