Britbox has drawn the curtains on the inner workings of its video streaming engine as the SVoD platform prepares for its home debut. Faultline set out to investigate whether the project – spearheaded by Deltatre – has sufficient technical clout and tactical panache to muscle up against the big boys in the UK market.
There are, however, a few missing pieces of the puzzle and our educated guess is that AWS is playing an understated role in the Britbox initiative.
Putting its acquisition of UK multiscreen firm Massive Interactive front and center, Deltatre has designed the full user experience and multi-platform apps for the UK service, just as it did for Britbox in the US and Canada. The UX management platform Axis is purpose-built for personalizing the TV editorial process, ironing out marketing tasks such as sending out product promotions and special offers – using deep learning techniques from recommendation engine big hitter ThinkAnalytics to understand user behavior.
Elsewhere, Dutch security specialist Irdeto is handling content packaging and protection for Britbox, delivered over an Akamai CDN with a customer identity and access management platform from LoginRadius. Program management is being headed up by consultancy firm Balance Agent, while Teleperformance is overseeing customer services. Media strategy responsibility falls to Total Media, a behavioral planning agency, while ITV’s own Creative division will manage branding and advertising campaigns.
As mentioned, our belief that Britbox is relying on certain AWS technologies stems from the fact that ITV deployed AWS Elemental Live software in its two playout centers two years ago, after revealing that its old streaming architecture was risky and prone to failures. ITV installed a more resilient platform with a focus on automated processes, where AWS Elemental is responsible for encoding ITV’s services into multicast streams for delivery to connected devices. Of course, AWS Elemental has also worked for the BBC, so using the cloud titan for Britbox was a no-brainer.
Massive Interactive’s Axis technology has since become part of Deltatre’s Amplify platform, a modular suite of OTT technologies centered around a CMS. Deltatre is known more for its experience in sports technology and consulting, which is strange considering Britbox is supposed to be an entertainment SVoD offering with no mention of live sports.
Any motive for Britbox’s joint owners, the BBC and ITV, to reveal the service’s video technology vendor stack is unclear and unexpected considering broadcasters are generally more secretive about their supplier relationships. One possible reason could be to smooth over rumors circulating over the summer suggesting there was some trouble in paradise and another being a knee-jerk reaction to last week’s BBC iPlayer upgrade revelations.
The rumored unrest earlier this year triggered reports that local telco BT was waving its check book about, eager for a piece of the action. ITV was initially reported to have pledged some $82 million through 2020 to Britbox, while the BBC wasn’t prepared to match this investment and has been infinitely more focused on its own iPlayer platform which is undergoing its largest refurb since 2012. No specific figures were published, but BT is apparently prepared to match what the BBC has currently fronted and in doing so allows ITV to lower its purported investment which apparently sparked the disagreement.
Only last week, Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s director of content, said, “iPlayer will become the heart of everything we do; the gateway to all our programmes – a ‘total TV’ experience, which will bring everything you want from BBC television into one place for the first time.” Such comments throw further shade over where this leaves Britbox and surely partner ITV must be frustrated.
First impressions are that Britbox has been built on some robust foundations and its emphasis on data-driven TV should put the SVoD service in good stead. Having already earned its stripes over in North America based on the same technology, there is no excuse for technical flaws as the ITV streaming player was once notorious for. On the strategy side, however, traversing the UK SVoD market will be a very different ball game despite the combined broadcast experience.