AWS Innovation with FOX Sports México | Innovation Ambassadors

AWS Innovation with FOX Sports México | Innovation Ambassadors

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- On this episode of "Innovation Ambassadors,"  we're showcasing the journey of Fox Sports Mexico,   the leading multi-platform brand in Mexico  that provides a unique sports entertainment   experience to fans across the country. We'll  explore their work with the AWS Innovation   team in Latin America on harnessing the power of  the AWS Cloud and AWS Media Services to innovate   and deliver enriching viewer experiences  at unmatched speed and scale. Well I am   excited to welcome Israel Gomez, Senior Vice  President of Media Production, Technology and   Operations at Fox Sports Mexico, Mucho gusto,  Israel. Thank you so much for joining us.

- Hola, Sara. Thank you.  Thanks for having me here. - And from AWS, we have Elisa Escalante,   Senior Innovation Specialist for  Latam. Elisa, thanks for being with us. - Of course, glad to join.

- And also from AWS, we have Arturo Velasco,   Senior Solutions Architect. Arturo,  thank you also for joining us. - Thank you so much, Sara. - So Israel, for our international audience, can  you tell us a little bit about Fox Sports Mexico? - Fox Sports Mexico, it's part of  Lauman Group since 2021, November,   2021. So we are 100% Mexican group of  media and technology, and we took over   Fox's sports operation after it became it became  independent from The Walt Disney Company in 2021. - Wonderful. Serving the  entire Mexican listenership?

- Yes. - Across a range of sports and other- - Yes, we are one of the networks that  have more live content. We do over 7,000   live sporting events per year. We have  four TV channels. We have NFL. We're   the group of channels with more NFL games  per week. We do 40% of the Mexican premier   male soccer league. We do 60% of the  female league. We do MLB, we do UFC,  

WWE, Formula One, boxing, other mixed martial  arts, Mexican baseball, just to name a few. - Fantastic, exciting. You  have a fun job, don't you? - Oh yes! Yes. Now sports are seven  days a week content. It's no longer   a weekend hobby like used to be many years ago. - Right. Right. And tell us a  little bit about this vision   you had for a platform as a service  and how you came to work with AWS.

- When we took over, we identified a number  of challenges that were required to start   thinking about by becoming independent. One  of those challenges, that was also key for   our future business strategy, was to develop a  solution to better serve our direct to consumer   customers. Our main line of business, still  nowadays, it's the traditional cable industry,   but we know that there are younger generations who  are not willing to go to a store, hire a service,   wait a couple of weeks for an antenna or a set  of box to be installed, and they want things   immediately. Right away, right? We know that  more and more people, it's consuming content   on desktop, on mobile phones, and no only on a  traditional TV set. So that's why we decided to  

go for a direct to consumer product. This direct  to consumer product needed to be equivalent to the   content quality and production quality that we  offer. By having premium events like NFL, MLB,   Formula One, UFC, you can imagine the level of  service, the level of content that the experience   our customers require from Fox. And certainly  to achieve that in a short period of time,   and as a new business model, it made sense to  go as a platform. We knew that we didn't have   the scale to build and maintain a platform by our  own. So we started a project when we identified  

different vendors that provided parts of the  solution, and that's how everything started. - Fantastic, and how did you come to work with  and learn about our innovation specialists,   with Elisa and our innovation programs? - During the pandemic, I was invited to take  part in a number of, let's say training sessions,   conversations, innovation chats that Elisa was  hosting during the pandemic. And then I start   to get excited about all the alternatives that  the cloud and these kind of innovation processes   that are now viable with technology. And we  learned from the thinking backwards, that the   AWS philosophy on fail quick solve things quicker.  So I already had that information in me. Our group   comes from technology, comes from providing  services for customers in this industry, and   not only in Mexico but also in Latin America. So  we were familiar with different project management   processes. And when we identified this new  challenge, we tried to put in place everything we  

learned in the past, tried to leverage all those  20-something years of experience working in this   industry, and being fueled and pumped with the AWS  innovation that we learned, thanks to Elisa and   multiple AWS people that we had the opportunity  to learn from. Made things more exciting. - Hmm, absolutely. So Elisa, starting with  these workshops that you were helping run   and really with multiple different customers  and then sharing that innovation approach   that Amazon has. And then you also did some deeper  engagements with Fox Sports too, isn't that right? - Yes, we started with a program called Digital  Leaders in Mexico. We realized that when the  

pandemic hit, all of the executives were dealing  with a lot of changes and technology was not the   only challenge that they have. They really needed  a change of mindset, different tools to support   them in that tough time for all of us. So we  created this program to help them with those   tools, with that change of mindset, with that  strategy that we had as an innovation company from   the start and the best practices that we could  share with them. And Israel was the first one   registering in our first Digital Leader. Then the  program evolved into different versions because we   had a lot of interest from a lot of companies and  executives. So we did Digital Leaders Transform,   and then Digital Leaders Agile. Then we  did one for emerging technologies, AI/ML,  

data analytics. And in all of them, Israel was  there upfront and center. He was an amazing   student. And from there, every time we did a new  program, a executive program around innovation,   he was our first call. Then we started piloting.  When we were able to go back to in-person events,   we piloted this Innovation Day where  we could do Working Backwards with many   customers at a time. And he was one of  our first call to help us shape that new   program. We started working on March,  2022, if I'm right, Israel, I think?

- Yes. Yep, yeah. - And from there, they created this amazing  solution and we started supporting their   evolution development implementation,  with Mauricio as well, that supports the   account with a great communication and trust  between the two companies to work together. - Absolutely, and as I understand it, Israel, you  had sort of two core areas that came out of that,   the website, is that right, and the direct  to consumer product, in terms of ideas? - Hm, part of our group, we also own a  business and finance newspaper in Mexico   called "El Financiero." And we made the switch  to the Arc platform, to Arc XP. This technology   developed inside the "Washington Post."  And we were actually the first customers in   Mexico to start working on that platform. And the  results were amazing. So when we took over Fox,   it was a no brainer for us to say, "Hey, we  already have skilled people. We already have  

experience. Let's go the same direction and  let's leverage everything we learned during   the pandemic." So we did that project that was,  let's say a quick win, was a low hanging fruit,   to call it somehow. And that was the easiest of  those projects because we really had experience,   and recent experience. On the direct to consumer,  we knew as being a subscriber for different  

platforms, what we liked and we didn't liked.  There was a legacy product that we inherit with   the transition. But it was not something we felt  comfortable offering our customers. So we wrote   some ideas on this event Elisa was mentioning. We  start prototyping our customer, you know, creating  

the press release, identifying the pain points,  identifying their behavior. If it's a customer   that it's on the move or it's someone willing to  innovate or if it was someone more traditional,   less tech-friendly. So with all of that, and  with our own experience and the team we put   together to face this project, it's been always a  collaborative way of working that we have in our   group. So we wrote an RFP. We start looking in  the market for different options. And it was a,   I don't know, maybe six months project while we  were researching. It was narrowing all the way to,   let's say, a runner ups, where we went to a proof  of concept. And then we chose the platform. The   platform, it's running on AWS infrastructure.  It's provided by a company called SeaChange,  

who creates all the back office, all the  UX management and all the native apps for   all the devices where we offer our content.  We're on browsers, on mobile phones, tablets- - Streaming. - Streaming devices. Everywhere you would think,  right? Like big screen TVs as well. So they were  

providing that part of the solution. Then we came  to Mauricio, to Arturo, to talk about content   distribution, the CDN and all the video part. A  big part of the solution, it's to have the best   video and audio quality regardless the device you  have and the connectivity. So we know that AWS,   with their video products, with Elemental product  line, was very good. And also CloudFront to share   the content and then made the content available  for our customers. And that was just the start,   right? Right now we're doing more  and we will talk about it later.

- Absolutely. So Elisa, starting from that  big vision, focusing on a particular benefit   to the customers, identifying those  customers, focusing on that benefit,   and really honing in on how we can create  something that would be of value for   them. Part and parcel of the innovation  process here at Amazon, is that right? - Yeah, well, it was a time  for everyone to experiment,   not only the customers but ourselves as  well. So we tried different things. We  

got feedback from them to understand what  they needed, how we can support them. So   it was very challenging for us but excited  as well. We are from a culture that we like   to spice things up, so we were having  a lot of fun together, right, Israel? - Oh, yes. - Right. - It was really something that  was perfect timing for us,   right? Because when the Digital  Leaders program started, we were   not 100% sure that Fox Sports was coming  to our group. So it was perfect timing.

- A lot of ambiguity, a lot of change that you  were managing through and, at the same time,   trying to be forward-looking, customer-centric,  looking after your listenership, and viewership,   rather. Arturo, let's bring you in. We heard  a lot about the requirements and the vision   and the type of customers who we're trying  to serve. Talk to us a little bit about,   and Israel mentioned Elemental and CloudFront  and some of the media services that we have. Talk  

to us a little bit about the architecture  and some of the decisions that were made. - Yeah, we started the conversation with Israel  since the beginning of the project. I mean,   Mauricio was a very key point and key part of that  with some proof of concepts, as were the RFP that   at some moment Israel gave us. And we decide to  use the media services because, well, some of the   drivers are still the innovations, the innovations  on quality, innovations on audio, innovations on   distribution. So the key part of this architecture  is the, let's say the serverless component. This   is component is very important because it allowed  Israel and his team to manage, to be, let's say,   focused on the business models. Not only  management of the platform, you know. And this   platform, let's say, it's scalable also. So the  scalability, it's very important for them. Because  

at some points they have more events, more sports  events, or in some seasons, they have more demands   of those events. So the architecture and the  solution scales, let's say, almost automatically. - And Israel, that's so important, right? - Yes. Yeah. - Because your viewership can change dramatically  based on what event you're streaming, yeah. - This world of sports, it's about live. - Yes. Yes, yes, yes. - Sports are still one of the few types of  content that people watches live. So we know  

that there will be thousands of people joining  minutes or seconds before. And not only joining   to watch content, but they will be willing  to subscribe, to download the app, configure   it. We know that people forget their passwords.  They have issues with internet connection. They   changed a streaming device or they bought a new TV  set. And this happens minutes before your match,   your match, your race, your fighting starts.  So this needs to be proven to support all that   stress, that Arturo said, changes from  content to content, from day to day. - Yes, and Arturo, that live, that  live nature of what you are providing,   so important in the consideration of what  architectural choices you're making, right? - Yeah. Many, many things to consider.  Many devices are emerging, let's say,  

new technologies. So that's a big  challenge for all the customers,   for direct to consumer customers, right? Because  every single year, we're launching new devices,   new protocols. So the customer needs to  be ready to support those new devices. - Right, so talk to us about some of  the technology that came in some of   the services that are fundamental  to how the team built this out. - We are using several media services, almost  all. Because if, let's say, if this solution is   pure live streaming, we have also a VOD part.  Fox Sports is using this part for advertising.   They have this SeaChange solution also for  advertising. So we are using MediaConnect,  

MediaLive, MediaPackage and MediaTailor and as  well as CloudFront, okay? So we have all the media   services. And even, well Israel, I'm sure that  we'll be talking about this later, but they are   innovating as well in the experience side. Let's  say, what are the adding value for the end users? - Right, right. So Israel, oftentimes in  this podcast, we talk about the fact that   experimentation, and you hit on this  in the beginning, about failing fast,   about experimentation also being the twin of  failure sometimes, right? Of learning from- - The evil twin.

- That's right. But taking that,  those learnings, and applying them,   was there something in this experience  that you had that was unexpected,   or challenge that you faced that didn't quite go  as we thought and that we had to work through? - Yes, one was that maybe we were too conservative  to start. We thought that the start will be   slower. But it was not, right? So after a few  days that we launched, we were seeing a larger   demand for video services, for people trying to  connect. So we had to say, "Hey, let's scale now!"  

So maybe we were too conservative with enough  threshold to support this higher demand. So- - That's always a happy problem, right? - Yes- - I was gonna say, that's a good problem to have. - It's a happy problem and we said we should be  bolder, let's say. And trust more in our project,   trust more in the offering, that people liked  it, and people, it's using it heavily. So   that was one. The other one, it's that maybe  our MVP, right? Our version one for launch,   maybe we were also conservative. We said, "Okay,  let's just start with this, and then we will add  

this a few months later, and then we will add  this." And the answer is no. You have to identify   all the different things you want to have, but  the priority, the customer will give it to you,   right? So we were thinking, well, this is the  direction we think things will go. And it was   not 100% accurate, right? So we were trying to set  a path, and we have to adapt it quickly 'cause the   customer was prioritizing what they wanted. So  I would say those were not really hard problems.   They were happy problems. But again, if we  should go through a project like this again,   I think we will think in a richer MVP, a  stronger infrastructure, larger infrastructure,   because I think it's better to be a little  over, that certainly under, right? So those   were like our two findings. And those happened  quick, right? Those happened at the beginning. - Absolutely.

- So we said, "Okay." Let's not wait for  another event to have this bottleneck. No,   no, no. Let's grow. Let's go big now! - Mm, hm-mm. And Elisa, I feel  like there's always that balance,  

right? Between the idea of getting something  out there and in the hands of customers or in   the eyes of customers in your case, right? Eyes  and ears of customers, and then iterating on   what you have and learning and doing that fast  follow in terms of enriching the experience. - That's how we operate in Amazon, that's how  we share it with our customers. They each adapt   what works best for them. So, many times, customer  worry about doing something very little, investing   a lot of time and doing something little, but  we're sure that if we built with the customer,   we can grow and go into the direction where  the customer wants. So all of our impact will   be much higher and much richer with them along  the way than working tons of months and years in   something that we will deploy, suddenly to have  those learnings that Israel is talking about.

- Mm, and Arturo, there's more on the  horizon, right? There's more invention,   there's more innovation to come. Israel, maybe  you can share a little bit about what's next. - Yes, for sure. Remember that we come from  technology, so we feel confident with technology.   So, part of the changes in the mindset, like Elisa  was mentioning before, was to make people, no   matter what their role is, if they're a producer,  if they're an editor, if they are a camera guy,   whenever they have a need, think on technology,  right? So we're always thinking outside of the   box and saying, "Okay, what can we do to make our  lives easier?" And just to mention a couple of   things, we were receiving content already produced  in English or in other languages. And the usual  

way was to have someone listening, taking notes,  doing a manual translation, then going to a word   or a text processor, make a script, go to the  editing room, type everything manually. And a   couple of days after, you can put a 30 minutes  piece on air. So when we started getting these   needs, I said, "I'm sure my AWS friends can help  me." So immediately, I called Arturo, I called   Mauricio, and told them, "Hey guys, I have this  challenge now. What can we do?" And luckily they  

said, "Oh, yeah, yeah. There are some things."  My team, it's, let's say, used to these pop-up   projects or new ideas or new challenges. So  they are always willing to innovate as well.   So we started doing tests one day, and maybe two  days after, we were already putting content on air   using AI tools to do translation and subtitling  in a very cost-effective, not only on the budget   side but also on how much time do you spend to  put a piece of content on there. So that's one   of the things we are doing. We made a POC recently  to have a high dynamic range content in our direct  

to consumer platform, where we are not constrained  to the bandwidth that the cable company gives us.   So we can go for higher resolutions, better  picture quality, better audio performance,   more let's say immersive audio capabilities  that we can launch, that we can put on air,   without waiting for the cable industry to follow  up or adopt these trends. So that's something   we're working right now. We are a few weeks away.  Right, Arturo? A few weeks away of being evil- - That's right. That's right. - No pressure. - We have no more pressure.

- No pressure. - A little bit, but... But that's one of the  things we are always trying to do. People it's   paying for this content, they are watching the  Super Bowl, they want to have the best experience.   So how can we deliver a better service, a better  product, right? So we are, let's say we like to   adapt new technology, we like to adopt new trends.  And that's why we're always spending time just   talking. Because we may have a narrow point of  view from our desk, but I mean Arturo and all the   technical team in AWS have multiple experiences  around the globe that can really be very,   very helpful for us. So we're always keen to  listen, to learn. You need to be humble because  

this thing changes so much that you can never feel  confident, you can never feel, okay, I don't need   nothing else, right? So there's always someone who  will keep innovating and that's who we want to be. - Absolutely. Well, thank you all for being  here today and sharing your journey with   us. And I'm wondering just, Arturo, we'll  start with you. What would you share with   our listeners? What was your key  learning out of this experience? - One of the key drivers for  us, as technology people,   is innovation. Innovation is one of the main  things when we talk about the technology,   and we are very, very concerned of  that. So thanks to our customer who   are influencing those innovations in every  service that we can offer to the audience.

- Absolutely. Elisa, how about you? What was  some of your takeaways or key reflections? - Because of the nature of what I do in  AWS, I share the best practices of Amazon,   but honestly, most of the time, I learn  more about our own customers. You know,   having different perspectives, getting  to know their challenges. So I think   that's what I like the most. It's  been very amazing doing that with   Fox Sports and with Israel in this journey.  So looking forward of what's coming next. - I love that idea of the  open mindset. It's really a,  

it's a two-way conversation, isn't it, always. - Always. - Absolutely, yes. We can always learn  from everyone. Israel, final words for you,  

anything, reflections you would  share or guidance for our listeners? - Yes, well, there are many, but I would say  that innovation needs to be adapted all across   the company, all across all the different teams.  It doesn't work if it's just the technology team   thinking outside of the box. I would say that the  upper management really needs to embrace this and   encourage their people to think outside of the  box. In our case, we start innovating with a blank   piece of paper, a whiteboard, and that was very  well spent time. We tried to develop these ideas,  

we polished them, then we said, "Okay, why  don't we go in a completely opposite direction?"   And when we had something that made us feel  comfortable, that's when we started really to talk   with technology people. So that, to give yourself  that time to think, I think it's very well spent.   And then don't be afraid of failure. You need  to put something on air, you need to develop   something, but do it. Even if you're not 100%  sure that it will work, try it and then react on   that. Make corrections, make changes, go opposite  ways. There's always takeaways from failure. And   always keep innovating. Don't feel comfortable  to the point where you say, "Okay, I don't need  

to do nothing else." No, I'm sure there will be  somebody else thinking outside of the box and   they will provide a better solution than you in a  short period of time if you stay, let's say, calm. - Oh, very well said. We have this  saying at Amazon, clear on the vision,   flexible on the details, right? That  iterative nature of what you're talking   about. And getting feedback from our  customers, right? Wonderful. Israel,  

Elisa and Arturo, thank you so much for being  here with us today and sharing your journey. - Thanks for having us. - Thank you. - Muchas gracias, I should say.

- Gracias, Sara. It's been a pleasure. - Okay. - Thanks for thinking of us for this podcast,   and it's been an amazing journey. And it  will continue. This is just version one. - Okay. Let's see, let's see. Looking  forward to the future. I'd like to   thank our listeners for coming on today's  journey with us. Look for future episodes   of our podcast on your favorite podcast  platform. Share your ideas for future  

episodes or comment on this one via the  email in the description. Thank you.

2024-02-26 16:40

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