At MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), reliably providing access to great baseball content is king and its protection is vital. As the digital distributors of 2,500 annual live MLB games across thousands of connected and mobile platforms, MLBAM has proven to be a dependable source of entertainment for baseball fans all over the world.
Baseball’s Emmy Award-winning technology company, originally founded in 2000, offers a multitude of digital products for fans to consume baseball in a variety of ways, including MLB.TV, MLB.com At Bat and MLB. com Ballpark. MLB.TV debuted in 2002 as the first over-the-top (OTT) subscription streaming service on the Internet and provides out-of-market fans with access to watch their favorite team’s games live on more than 400 supported connected and mobile devices. It remains the most widely distributed sports streaming subscription service.
MLBAM also designed, developed and distributed two flagship mobile apps, At Bat and Ballpark. At Bat, which is used for following live games on phones and tablets through its award-winning UI, averages eight million app starts per day by baseball fans. Ballpark provides fans with a customizable in-venue experience and cutting-edge location-awareness and ticketing technologies when visiting any of the 30 MLB ballparks. The common theme amongst these consumer products has remained reliable access to baseball and intuitive experiences built to how, and where, fans are using them.
“Our charge is two-fold and simultaneously simple, yet complex,” said Rob Del Greco, VP, App Infrastructure for MLBAM. “One: Provide consumer-accessible environments while ensuring that geographically relevant content is delivered to every fan. Two: Keep our site and infrastructure up and running in the event of attacks. Maintaining a high performing online presence is critical to the continued growth of our business,” Del Greco concluded.
To find a provider capable of delivering on this charge, including enforcing geographical content restrictions for out-of-market live streaming while keeping its infrastructure secure, MLBAM surveyed the landscape and was pleasantly surprised when they learned Neustar could satisfy some of their most pressing needs.
The Neustar Solution
“Our relationship with Neustar actually began in 2003 when we started using IP Intelligence,” Del Greco said. “We were streaming Major League Baseball games and needed a solution that could accurately identify and geo-locate IP addresses by geographies and markets to help us comply with broadcast regulations.”
Neustar IP Intelligence provides MLBAM with granular IP decisioning and Internet connectivity data, allowing them enforce blackout rules while also providing insight into potentially risky Internet connections. Neustar IP Intelligence also provides MLBAM with insights into how viewers are interacting and engaging with their content.
“By understanding where a viewer is located, we receive invaluable insight that allows us to confidently deliver the right content to the right subscriber and to provide the best baseball viewing experience possible,” Del Greco said. “And when it appears there is an unauthorized viewer, we count on Neustar’s Network Geography Analysts, who research tens of thousands of IP geolocations each year to ensure we’re monitoring geo-based content appropriately.”
As MLBAM’s digital streaming and mobile product successes grew, so did market opportunities.
Enter Neustar SiteProtect, an on-demand hybrid DDoS defense solution capable of quickly detecting and mitigating DDoS attacks while keeping critical systems up and running without any streaming interruptions.
“Neustar SiteProtect gives us the assurance that we need to ensure our infrastructure is protected against any type or size DDoS attack,” said Del Greco.
“The Mirai Botnet attack came as a real wake-up call for everybody relying on one DNS provider,” Del Greco recalled. “We engaged with Neustar immediately and they helped us implement our current practice of using dual primary DNS providers over a weekend. Now, we have a DNS failover to make sure we’re always on for baseball fans.”
To utilize a dual primary DNS service, which also has built-in DDoS protection, MLBAM turned to Neustar UltraDNS, a cloud-based authoritative DNS service that securely delivers quick and accurate query responses while keeping DNS-targeted DDoS threats at bay. Unlike BIND-based DNS services, UltraDNS is engineered on a proprietary non-open source platform that is less vulnerable to online threats.
“We count on Neustar to help us accurately deliver our content and protect us against DDoS attacks, so it was a natural next step to trust them to run our DNS infrastructure,” Del Greco said. “The integration was smooth and level of service that we have received – from integration to production - has been fantastic. We haven’t had any downtime or issues.”
“We’re beyond happy,” Del Greco exclaimed. “We’re accurately delivering a high volume of content to users located all around the world and we’re very confident in our ability to deliver without interruption.”
In the digital media and technology world where competition for viewers comes from virtually everywhere, MLBAM remains well positioned to continue accurately delivering uninterrupted MLB content and is well positioned for the growth opportunities ahead.
“We’re supremely confident in our ability to meet and exceed the demands of both our licensing agreements and our customers,” Del Greco said. “Neustar has allowed us to evolve and grow into a bright future, giving baseball fans of all ages reliable access to the game on whatever device they choose,” Del Greco concluded.