A Comprehensive Video Streaming Solution for Nova Broadcasting Group

The OTT platform provides a 24/7 live stream of four TV channels and video-on-demand services to over 200k active users.

Video Streaming Background

Video streaming started as a proof of concept back in the 90s. What pushed its growth was the development of MPEG-DASH standard in 2012, which allowed YouTube and other video streaming platforms to move from Flash to HTML5. Ever since then, video streaming has been growing steadily. The latest COVID-19 pandemia and other socio-economical and generation-behavioral factors boosted the video streaming market. The competition in the content provision field has become immense, involving even the traditional TV channels and broadcast service providers.

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Nova Broadcasting Group Inquiry

Such is the case with Nova Broadcasting Group (NBG), part of the United Group (UG) and one of Eastern Europe’s largest multi-platform media and technology companies. NBG had already been distributing content using a prominent streaming services provider known for working with respected global brands. However, the high-quality content distribution services offered by the platform were insufficient for NBG. The media company was looking for more independence and greater flexibility. Its management has realized that it is not just about streaming content anymore but about providing a user experience. Swift time-to-market (TTM) and a personal attitude catering to the audience’s demands are the keys to success. NBG reached out to Bianor to develop a proprietary streaming platform to add value to their audience while introducing a modern and reliable back-end streaming infrastructure.

 

Bianor’s Video Streaming Solution

Bianor developed a custom video streaming solution based on the fusion between a proprietary OTT platform and a third-party streaming service. The streaming solution included a complete OTT platform with a smooth administrative back-end and a stylish user interface. One of the most significant tasks for Bianor was to create a scalable solution that could meet the market dynamics and respond to the constantly growing user-base of the media. The platform was split into two streaming services – Nova Play and Play Diema Xtra with four live TV channels – NOVA Play Live, Diema Sport 1, Diema Sport 2, and Diema Sport 3. The OTT platform provides a 24/7 live stream of the linear programs and an on-demand watching of video content serving over 200k active users.

 

Usability of the Custom OTT Platform

The streaming service runs smoothly on any current web browser such as Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and iTunes. In addition, it supports native iOS and Android applications, including the AndroidTV app and Chromecast. The streaming solution provides a flawless user experience on the front end and effortless administration of the back end. The platform allows easy management and ads serving on the free content. In addition, it offers user registration and pay-per-view (PPV) or a subscription-based approach for more exclusive content. The end-users can enjoy features such as user profiles with push notifications and watch later options. Continuous play across multiple devices is another very convenient feature that allows the users to continue a previously initiated stream on the same or different device when logged in with the same profile. The implemented DVR functionality allows browsing within the video content back and forth in live or a recorded program.

Refined Backend

The OTT platform provides sophisticated content management with smooth media ingestion and a broad range of supported formats. The adaptive bitrate optimizes delivery to any device on any network to secure optimal streaming quality. It simplifies and optimizes the content delivery path, thus guaranteeing fast and high-quality streaming regardless of the viewer’s location. The system offers secure monetization and Digital Rights Management (DRM) functionalities to protect the customers and the content owners. Multilayer Analytics and intelligent marketing tools are integrated to deliver a better user experience.

 

Robust Infrastructure

NBG’s platform guarantees extreme stability even on high-volume operations while providing the best video delivery QoS – 96/100 Mux video rebuffering score and the industry’s best live streaming quality unaffected by traffic volume. It is highly scalable and reliable, utilizing
multi-CDN distributed deployment, auto-scaling, and full redundancy. An end-to-end encryption performing cloud encoding, transcoding, and packaging ensures secure stream delivery.

 

Technical Challenge

During the development process, we encountered a significant issue concerning the MPEG-DASH. The problem we faced was related to MPEG-DASH’s disadvantage: once its stream production is set up, it is pretty static and cannot be adjusted or relocated. It is impossible to alter the DVR window size, corresponding to the time frame the consumers can seek back in a live stream. Once the encoder or packager starts producing the stream, the user cannot change the output resolutions and the live edge. All these resulted in a poor user experience related to buffering and even freezing of the stream.

 

The Solution

Although we have utilized one of the most popular and reliable third-party OTT streaming platforms, the shared efforts with its experienced tech crew did not yield positive results. It took us multiple attempts and considerable time to figure out an effective workaround. Finally, we developed a MPEG-DASH live stream proxy solution that enables the content/streaming service provider to perform MPEG-DASH stream modifications and relocation. The relocation involves progressively downloading the latest MPEG-DASH manifest and fragments to a new location and modifying the manifest.

 

Project Structure

The NBG OTT streaming platform development project followed the Agile/Kanban approach, split into several phases. Each phase had a duration of three to four months. The result after each stage was the release of one or two major features and several minor ones. The team consisted of Project and Product Managers, a Software Architect, a DevOps Engineer, Web, iOS, and Android Developers, CMS/Backend/API Engineers, QA and Testing engineers, and Support Engineers.

 

The Outcome

Bianor has been growing video streaming expertise for almost a decade. Applied in comprehensive OTT video streaming platforms, such as the one for Nova Broadcasting Group and FITE, or mission-critical projects, like NATO AGS, the team has always strived for perfection and refinement. Dirk Gerkens, Nova Broadcasting Group CEO and United Media Director of Programming, Production, and Advertising Sales, sums up the outcome “We are truly delighted by the high level of competence and responsiveness of Bianor’s team.”

OTT Video Streaming Essentials Fact Sheet

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