On April 15, 2008 Delta AIr Lines merged with Northwest Air Lines forming the largest commercial air line in the world. About two months before the merger I had a conversation with two videographers, inquiring about our live streaming capabilities at Multicast Media Networks. They were planning a live webcast for Delta Air Lines, and after some discussion we jumped on a call with Chip Yeager, VP of Video Operations. Though he couldn’t talk about the specifics, he emphasized the critical nature of this broadcast. They would be working to reach as many of the employees as possible, whether in airport break rooms around the world, at their desk or in their homes.
As we began to dig into the project, a few challenges became apparent. Many of the Delta operations centers were located in small airports, without a strong internet connection. Many of the business centers did not have the internet throughput to handle large numbers of simultaneous live streams, and network administrators worried that the video traffic from hundreds of people watching from their desk might impact business operations using the same connection.
After reviewing these challenges with their top network engineers, we came up with a plan that would split the live streams into two primary channels: one for employees on the Delta network (including smaller airports and business centers), and one for remote employees at home or in the field. The internal stream leveraged multicasting (a single stream), and the external stream leveraged unicast (a separate stream for each viewer). This kept the internal load manageable, with the external users being able to connect outside of the Delta network.
On the day of the announced merger, the live stream went off without a hitch. Delta was able to embed the video stream in a page on their employee portal that intuitively served the correct stream, easily directing everyone in the company to the same page. The internal stream was delivered across the globe to Delta operations centers, airport break rooms, and to smaller airports in remote locations. The viewership analytics helped close the book on this project – it was a huge success.
Moving forward, I worked with Chip and Delta on other major communications and events needing to reach their global employee base. Leveraging the same two distribution channels, we were able to broadcast regular messages from the CEO, town hall style meetings, and even an Employee Appreciation Ball, complete with a red carpet entrance, for top employees from around the world.
Delta ended up leveraging the Multicast online video platform for employee training, HR, corporate communications and much more. Though Multicast was acquired in 2010, the online video platform and acquiring company still serves Delta as of this writing (Jan. 2019).