VITAC lowered the cost of growth by offloading responsibility for business-critical realtime infrastructure

VITAC, a Verbit company, is the world’s largest captioning provider, relied upon by media companies, corporations and educational institutions. It uses realtime to ensure captioning is on screen within four seconds of live broadcast.

Size

Enterprise

Industry

Sports and media technology

Use case

Live media captioning

THE PROBLEM
Reliable realtime to power live captioning at scale

VITAC’s captioning services are crucial to ensuring the accessibility of programming from media brands like CNN, FOX and the Discovery Channel for the deaf and hard of hearing (DHOH) community.  

In fact, even though the world’s best captioning specialists take 2-3 seconds to generate captions from live broadcasts, they must be on screen within four seconds.  

VITAC’s realtime infrastructure - provided by a third-party vendor - is crucial to meeting this four second target, VITAC’s reputation and its customer relationships. If latency causes chunks of captioning to be omitted, DHOH viewers can miss vital information and the FCC can levy fines against its customers.

However, as demand for VITAC’s services grew, it became increasingly clear that it needed a new realtime partner. It needed a partner better able to scale with rising demand, particularly rapid surges in viewers, and to which it could hand off a growing maintenance burden.

50M

DHOH Americans rely on VITAC captioning

380M+

Messages sent per month

In a high-stakes, highly competitive industry, VITAC sought a provider that could operate realtime infrastructure for transporting live data to end-users via a complex, multi-hop process. In media accessibility environments - where there's zero margin for error - Ably's infrastructure performs and exceeds expectations.

Joe AntonioCIO, VITAC
THE SOLUTION
A realtime partner able to support stringent regulatory controls

Behind the scenes, VITAC’s captioning services are powered by a complex, multi-stage data transfer process between audio source, captioning facility and viewer.

As a result, it needed a realtime partner able to integrate seamlessly with its own data infrastructure without significant developer intervention. 

The ideal partner also needed to offer cast-iron guarantees around message integrity, service availability and global latency – even during unpredictable spikes in demand.

After running the solution in parallel for a year with VITAC’s existing realtime partner, VITAC chose Ably for its 99.999% uptime SLA, message ordering and delivery guarantees, and its predictable performance - which ensures latency is always within specific operating boundaries.

Thanks to Ably’s multi-protocol support, and with help from its engineering team, VITAC was able to manage a rapid, seamless migration – moving over to Ably’s Serverless WebSocket platform without any disruption to its normal operations.

50M

DHOH Americans rely on VITAC captioning

380M+

Messages sent per month

THE RESULTS
Reliable live captioning delivery for 50 million DHOH Americans

Today, VITAC powers mission-critical teleconferencing and captioning for global audiences in the millions using Ably’s Serverless WebSocket platform distributed at the edge.

The move has enabled VITAC to offload the challenge of maintaining realtime at scale. It has freed up its engineering team to focus on optimising its captioning technology, without having to worry about maintaining non-negotiable service levels - even when thousands of viewers unexpectedly tune into a channel.

Nathan Erkenbeck, Director of Systems and Networking at VITAC explained: “Consistent quality is business-critical, so we were looking for a provider as concentrated as we are on quality and performance. We have no concerns about putting all the hard work on Ably, even during bursts in usage.”

Ably has consistently delivered on performance - global latencies are reliably below 65ms, regardless of spikes in demand. Similarly, guaranteed message ordering and delivery ensures captioning is always complete and in step with live broadcasts.

This means VITAC is able to meet or exceed stringent regulatory standards – so its customers can be sure complete captioning is available to DHOH viewers at all times.

In turn, that reliability defends VITAC’s reputation and insulates its customers against potential regulatory action.

Overall, choosing Ably has helped VITAC to strengthen its market-leading position. Today it is the go-to captioning provider for the world’s most popular media outlets and the most high-stakes communication channels, including government bodies. 

It is often the only source of information for a DHOH community comprising 50 million Americans, and 20% of the population globally.

50M

DHOH Americans rely on VITAC captioning

380M+

Messages sent per month