Bringing a personal and local experience into members' homes in just eight weeks.
You now need a solution to help bring your awesome fitness experience, with all the energy and expertise of your beloved fitness instructors, directly into the homes of your members.
And you want a video streaming platform tailored to your brand – you’re not interested in a run of the mill out-of-the-box solution. And as a heavy user of Microsoft technology and services, you’re looking for a more customized platform that can build on top of Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service.
Life Time partnered with SOUTHWORKS, a trusted Microsoft partner, to create their custom over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platform on Azure. The SOUTHWORKS team was able to get this product launched within eight weeks, start to finish, empowering Life Time to quickly pivot during the COVID crisis.
Thanks to SOUTHWORKS, Life Time now has a cloud-native solution to stream live fitness sessions and video content to their clientele, regardless of where they may be. Instructors are able to easily transmit live events through on-premise equipment located in Life Time’s fitness studios. Through a custom management portal, operators are able to render, edit, publish, start and stop live streams linked to clubs across multiple regions. Today, Life Time club access and digital members can choose from up to 1,000 livestream classes weekly that originate from more than 20 clubs across the country.
Leveraging Azure Media Services, they have the ability to deliver high-quality video, in various formats, to members using different devices. Distribution of high-bandwidth, HD video content is powered by Azure CDN, which minimizes latency by caching content at strategically placed physical nodes across the world. What’s more, the SOUTHWORKS team implemented a monitoring component to immediately notify Life Time team members of technical difficulties such as a physical encoder becoming disconnected during a live-stream.
Life Time had one more uniquely challenging need for the platform: closed captions on the live streaming content. The SOUTHWORKS team got to work right away and provided a solution through Azure Cognitive Services, which uses Artificial Intelligence, to automatically generate IMSC1.1- compatible transcribed text.
“I don’t think any of our competitors can do Closed Captions on their live streams,” said Brian Shoemaker, Senior Director of Innovation at Life Time. “This was a cost-effective solution that satisfied our requirements and no one else was offering it.”
Now Life Time has a remote solution that members love, and has been able to retain its members due to the success of the new digital platform. “Many of our competitors have struggled in the past 12 months. Life Time has been able to retain a greater share of our members — even when clubs were closed — thanks to this alternative content channel,” commented Brian.
"SOUTHWORKS took the time to really understand what we wanted to do. They asked a lot of questions, and, born from their previous experience, were able to quickly pull out what our requirements were.” Brian Shoemaker, Senior Director of Innovation, Life Time