This is a case story.
Video consumption over mobile networks is skyrocketing worldwide. The reasons are not hard to find. The dramatic increase in mobile adoption and the availability of high-speed internet is the base but even here dramatic changes have come about making Video more pleasing to watch. Data rates have been constantly coming down and data speeds are constantly trending up. Devices are also getting better with bigger screens and better resolutions, while still being affordable. Consumers are demanding, and getting, more flexible subscription models and options.
Netflix was fast out of the blocks when the time came but today online video consumption has become exceedingly mainstream. Research and Markets, in their report “Asia Pacific OTT TV and Video Forecasts”, reported that Over The Top (OTT) TV & Video revenues for the region would touch $18396 Million by 2021, up from $ 5741 Million in 2015. Media Partners Asia, in a report titled “Asia Pacific Online Video Distribution” revealed that APAC’s fixed broadband subscribers were expected to grow to 425 million by 2021 from 345 million in 2016. Further that, mobile broadband was expected to reach 79% of the entire APAC population by 2021. Clearly, the conditions for OTT video are quite strong, a fact not lost on those leading the media and entertainment industry in this region. They are seriously looking to leverage OTT services for further competitive differentiation and increased customer loyalty. OTT services offer these organizations the promise of acquiring new customers, and retaining them, on the strength of a high-quality user interface. These new services allow better monetization of the existing infrastructure. All that and there is also the possibility of taking on a brighter, more vibrant presence on social media platforms for improved reach.
Thus, it was hardly a surprise when we heard from one of our clients, a communication, media, and entertainment powerhouse. They own several Live channels featuring copyrighted entertainment, media, and sports content. They also have strategic partnerships and alliances for content distribution with various media houses across the APAC region. They wanted to develop a subscription-based platform to distribute their existing set of videos and live channels. Along with this, they also wanted to increase their distribution footprint and increase online content availability in Vietnam by building more partnerships with leading media and entertainment players.
The obstacle to overcome
Despite being a leading media house, our client had to navigate a significant set of challenges to become successful. For starters, they did not have an online video platform- a major impediment for online content distribution. Thus, despite having ownership of some of the best content in this region, their reach was limited due to traditional cable-based distribution. Their monetization avenues were constrained due to the inflexibility in the subscription options provided by the traditional cable distribution companies. A lack of a sustained footprint on social media was also hurting their chances of converting their existing traffic into future demand. Essentially, today’s dynamic, on-demand, hyper-connected world was passing them by rapidly!
Clearly, the problem here was multi-fold – first, how to expedite the launch to market. First mover advantage was essential to beat the competitors and acquire a loyal user base. They had to get in fast with a high performing web and mobile app that provided a superior and intuitive user experience. Second, how to set up a flexible subscription model (SVOD, TVOD, and AVOD) with tight, seamless integration with third party ad service providers. It was also clear that they needed to provide flexible subscription models. On the technology front, an integration with their existing CDN and trans-coding servers was seen as important to save costs. A lot of work had to be done before the cash registers could start ringing.
To the rescue
Did they want a solution to the problem at hand? Or were they really looking for a technology partner with a finger on the pulse of the market and a clear understanding of the needs of the consumers of the video content? Reflection revealed that the latter was the case – and this is where we stepped in!
The first step often decides the success of the journey. We started with a detailed requirement analysis.
Our team realized that we had to first streamline the media asset categorization for better asset management. Clearly, we would have to completely redesign the existing UI and UX for web and native mobile applications. The UI / UX would have to be aligned to the targeted demographic and user behavior. We would also have to work on the templatization of web pages. It was important to do a feasibility study of the available infrastructure including the Content Distribution Networks to reduce overhead costs.
Seamless user acquisition by enabling integration with various standard social media platforms emerged as another key requirement. As did allowing Video embedding and sharing features to promote partnership with partner companies. Providing local ad server integrations and single sign-on (SSO) was key to monetization. Additionally, we also had to optimize the web and application analytics for better user insights. That, and to provide a detailed logging infrastructure. The short list of “necessary” features, was quite extensive!
A detailed analysis of the functional requirements was mapped against the capabilities of the standard CMS solutions available out there. An appropriate CMS tool was chosen, and then set up for meta data management, and for categorizing media categories.
End to end development followed the finalization of requirements. The website and the mobile applications were designed with the user behavior of the target demographic in mind. The solution had to include video embedding and sharing to make it easy for the partner companies to distribute the content. Integration with the social media platforms was also completed.
We followed an iterative development process with a strong focus on testing. This was necessary to ensure that the application worked seamlessly both on the web and on mobile. To support high concurrency we focused on constant performance tuning and also automated the API testing process. Caching mechanisms were incorporated to improve the user experience. We also automated the production process to ensure timely and seamless deployments.
A mature cloud-based infrastructure service on which we could deploy the platform for improved performance was leveraged to provide cost and scalability. We ensured that we had shorter feedback loops to stay on track of the production process and that we met all our deadlines – agility was the name of the game.
The happy outcome
The proof of the pudding lies in the eating. We were confident of the solution but the real success of the project could only be gauged once it went live. Here’s the tale of the tape post-launch:
- Increase in user acquisition by 60% owing to seamless social integration
- 30,000+ downloads of native mobile applications
- Improved site-ranking with the deep site links appearing among the first three results on Google
- Vast improvement in performance of mobile applications, including support for long-duration videos.
- Massive improvement in user experience owing to the various filters that eased selection of contents.
- A drastic reduction in the bounce rates from 80% to 55%.
- Ad integration and flexibility to change ad servers
- Real-time user analytics reports
- Real-time video analytics to prioritize content
- Improved social media footprint because of ease of shareability
Our client’s OTT Video launch has quickly become the standard for others to beat – if you’re watching soccer from England while on a bus in Vietnam, chances are it’s our solution that is delivering the good news of Chelsea’s win to you! The end result was that we had an extremely happy client who was more than satisfied with the effectiveness of our development and professionalism of service. That’s the news on the small screen anyway!
About Forgeahead’s Media / OTT Video Capabilities
We have strong capabilities in the media domain including OVP and OTT platform capabilities and the ability to understand different streaming protocols and video players. We have a strong understanding of the Media domain, and an eye on evolving trends in the space. We also have a strong understanding of development and integration of various subscriptions models and monetization strategies such as SVOD, TVOD, and AVOD etc. Our experience covers setting up rich user-based analytics and run-time media analytics. We have a proven track record in web and native mobile application development and expert capabilities in SEO solutions, implementation and Social Media Optimizations.