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Posted: 3/4/2011
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Rai Net Italy-Based Broadcasting Company Attracts Viewers with Innovative Video Capabilities

Rai Net anticipated that during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, demand for its online video services on its Rai Sport and Rai.tv portals would increase beyond its ability to deliver. By deploying the Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in and Internet Information Services (IIS) Media Services 4.0—which offers Smooth Streaming for Silverlight—Rai Net provides live and catch-up TV and video on demand (VOD). In 2010, Rai.it and Rai.tv reached an average of 114 million page views and 7.4 million unique users a month.

Business Needs

Rai Net is the internet arm of Italy-based public broadcaster RAI. In 2006, it developed the video portal Rai.tv, which provides video footage of TV programmes. However, the quality of videos was inconsistent, and, with increased demand for online viewing of programmes, Rai Net needed a quick and reliable way to deliver its content.

In addition, with the 2010 FIFA World Cup approaching, Rai Net was eager to expand its online video services to include

high-quality live streaming video and VOD. Piero Gaffuri, Chief Executive Officer of Rai Net and Head of the New Media Department at RAI, says: “RAI is an independent broadcaster with a mission to give people in Italy an opportunity to interact with the content we produce. We decided to offer the same content through the internet that our viewers could see on TV.” To do this, RAI needed a stable infrastructure that could withstand a large amount of traffic.


RAI has used Microsoft products for many years, and was eager to find a new solution that was compatible with the technology already in place. After checking all the options available, the broadcaster decided to partner with Microsoft to set up Rai.tv player based on the Silverlight Media Framework. Using Silverlight and IIS Media Services Smooth Streaming, Rai.tv player delivers live and on-demand high-definition streaming video.

The first services available on Rai.tv player were:

The 2010 FIFA World Cup—live streaming and VOD content from the 2010 FIFA World Cup on the Rai Sport and Rai.tv portals

Rai Replay—seven days of catch-up TV from three main Rai TV channels

With Rai.tv player, users can select different camera views of football games during live events. It also offers a highlights menu, where editors from Rai Net publish video clips during the match, using the Silverlight Rough Cut Editor. With the digital video recorder capabilities of Smooth Streaming, Rai Net can republish content as VOD immediately after the live event, together with the highlights.

During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, live streaming reached a peak of more than 1 million unique users and up to 560,000 concurrent users in Italy alone. Over 30 days, the RAI portal recorded an average of more than 20 million page views and 250,000 unique users per day.

Replay TV on the Rai.tv website repurposes the previous seven days of the three main RAI channels as VOD content delivered with Silverlight and Smooth Streaming. In addition, round-the-clock live streaming is simultaneously broadcast from the same three channels.


By deploying Rai.tv player, Rai Net provides the high-quality service its internet-savvy audience expects, increasing viewership and improving customer satisfaction. Users can view programmes multiple times in VOD streaming or navigate immediately to specific parts of a programme, such as the goals in a football match.

Live video streaming. Silverlight Rough Cut Editor provides rapid, light-touch editing of Smooth Streaming video content without the need for re-encoding. With this tool, editors can easily mark clips for immediate publishing on the internet. Viewers get live streaming video as it happens, with instant highlights. “With Silverlight, we can provide a high-quality service without having to convert the content to the right format. What used to take hours is now immediate,” says Gaffuri.

Low total cost of ownership. The low cost of implementing and maintaining Rai.tv player with Silverlight opens opportunities for Rai Net to offer VOD and replay TV. In the future, the scalable solution will provide video services for most of the organisation’s TV channels, all free of charge.

Increased viewership. Rai.tv player expanded the network’s audience beyond the TV-viewing public, with 1 million viewers of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The organisation used the IIS Media Services 4.0 media delivery platform to stream the live event to a range of devices, including the iPad.

Improved business agility. Silverlight is a scalable solution that gives Rai.tv the opportunity to expand its channels as new devices for viewing come onto the market.

Enhanced customer satisfaction. Rai.tv viewers can now watch football games and their favourite TV shows on multiple devices, from anywhere with an internet connection.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 60 employees

Organization Profile

Rai Net is the internet arm of the state-owned public service broadcaster RAI, the biggest TV company in Italy.

Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Microsoft Expression
  • Microsoft Silverlight
  • Windows Media Services 2008
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services 7.0

Vertical Industries
  • Media & Cable
  • Broadcasters


Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Mobility
  • Support and Services
  • SOA and Business Process

IT Issue
  • Development
  • Digital Content Management