The reality of developing and operating a successful VOD platform in a small market

Multiple CH Media Entertainment sites on different devices

In the highly competitive world of video-on-demand (VOD) platforms, even broadcasters in smaller markets can achieve success. Let’s look at how Switzerland’s CH Media went about developing their streaming platform oneplus, with Lovely Systems, an Austrian-based development firm playing a pivotal role as their central service provider. By prioritizing the customer experience and flexibility, CH Media was able to overcome challenges, maximize efficiency, and achieve more than satisfactory results.

Out-of-the-box to meet a launch deadline: a fake good idea or how to operate in the stone age

In the race to meet a tight launch deadline due to not one but two partnerships with an advertising agency and a telco operator, CH Media initially relied on out-of-the- box solutions, such as standard client apps and cloud services. However, they soon discovered the limitations of those off-the-shelf options. The need for flexibility and customisation led them to develop their own clients. While this decision added complexity, it proved vital in the long run for achieving their vision. A key learning was to not commit to a launch date when launching something big.

Distribution as one of the key success factors

Recognising the importance of effective distribution, CH Media implemented a targeted and prioritised strategy. Leveraging Lovely Systems, nine applications were developed based on three codebases. This allowed CH Media to cater to different platforms, including web, Android phone, iPhone/iPad, AndroidTV, AppleTV, Tizen, and three telecom operators with different technologies. Despite the diverse platforms, they ensured consistent design and user experience across all applications, maximizing their reach and engagement.

Taking bold decisions: changing the tech stack after 12-24 months

Embracing a culture of innovation and adaptability, CH Media made a bold decision to change its tech stack after 12 months of operation. They transitioned from standard clients and cloud solutions to a more flexible and agile solution. By progressively building own backend infrastructure and backend services, CH Media gained full control over the platform's features and enhanced the ability to meet evolving customer demands.

While keeping commodity services like DRM and video delivery at standardised SaaS services, the team moved business logic and features to their own tailored services. This allows a much tighter coupling of clients to the backend services through optimized graphQL APIs, thus sharing data between the front-end (client) and back-end (server) components, ensuring smooth and optimized interactions between them.

Learnings: reusability, efficiency, and flexibility ensure maximum agility and cost optimisation

Throughout their journey, CH Media learned valuable lessons about reusability, efficiency, and flexibility. By using shared libraries across their three codebases, they achieved consistency and reduced development effort. They discovered that customisation and speed were crucial for success, outweighing the initial benefits of out-of-the-box solutions. Despite operating with a limited budget, they managed to optimise costs and achieve maximum agility through close collaboration with the developer, Lovely Systems.

“Let’s be clear and honest, a lot remains to be improved on the platform but it is a rewarding and interesting journey that we are glad to be on,” says Paul Fournier, Head of Business Development and Digital at CH Media.

A look at the KPIs

  1. Development of 9 applications with 3 code bases, resulting in a unified look and feel across all platforms.
  2. Acquisition of a six-figure subscriber base within a year (in a total market size of a low 7-figure) through a targeted and prioritised distribution strategy.
  3. Management of a tech stack with a budget 2x to 4x lower than end-to-end providers, showcasing flexibility and agility.
  4. Successful development and rollout of a dedicated app for a telco Set-Top Box (STB) based on the Metrological technology within 7 months, despite the high complexity of that technology, with additional bundling and billing options accomplished within 4 additional months. The project was completed within a mid-six-figure budget, significantly more cost-effective compared to quotes from end-to-end platform and backend providers.
  5. Additional dedicated apps for Android TV-base STBs were smoother to develop and brought to market within a couple of months.

“Operating in a smaller market with limited resources does not mean compromising on quality or control,” says Paul. “CH Media’s story highlights in our view the benefits of a tailored approach, leveraging a service provider's expertise with whom we collaborate closely, and prioritising customer-centricity. By prioritising reusability, efficiency, and flexibility, CH Media achieved agility, cost optimisation, and a higher-than-expected subscriber base.”

Want to know more?

Manfred Schwendinger
Manfred Schwendinger / Lovely Systems
Email Manfred / LinkedIn
Paul Fournier
Paul Fournier / CH Media
Lovely Systems