Coming straight from the frontlines of streaming providers’ battle for dominance, we here at Blue Guava have a lot to say about what’s going on in the world of streaming. Having been involved in developing one of the first global content monetization platforms, we have an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes insights that we would love to share.
As our first installment in this topic, we decided to deal with a complex aspect that makes this type of content distribution unique: releasing a platform in culturally and lingually varied, large geographical areas with substantial customer bases to support and look after.
Such audience launches require a multilingual and multi-territory approach that deals with factors such as time zone, currency, and even content rating.
Let’s see what you have to be prepared for to distribute content successfully to your customers!
As with all things in business, it is paramount to have a comprehensive, actionable strategy in place for the time you begin deployment of your content distribution platform. Even if the work that went into development resulted in a spectacular product with great functionalities and excellent UX, almost just as much depends on how the rollout is implemented.
Product launches are essential to the product’s success but are also one of those business investment types that carry the highest risk. Generally, if you can hone in on certain key areas, such as formulating a proper launch plan, establishing a cross-functional launch team, and real-time tracking progress (measured against financial or schedule goals), you have already increased your chances for a successful rollout. In addition, leveraging past successes (e.g., tried and proven processes) and filling in experience gaps with consultants outside your company will also go a long way toward ensuring a great launch.
These best practices are also applicable to the deployment of a streaming service. However, the challenges here are more unique.
Here we have compiled a checklist of those areas, steps, and considerations that every rollout strategy should contain.
- Infrastructure Deployment
- Content Library Setup emphasizes Territorial Content Rights, Audio and Subtitle Rules, and Live Feed Setup.
- CDN Deployment (if needed) — be prepared because switching CDNs or applying a new CDN is always a significant challenge.
- Application Localization
- Affiliate Integration
- Application Certification for the new market. You may have to calculate a longer certification time. (We had this issue in the cases of Samsung and Roku.)
- Analytics System Configuration
- SKU Configuration for in-app processes.
- Time Zone Issues (UTC vs. Local) — if the app covers multiple time zones, decide which reference time should be.
- General Availability (GA) Launch — specifically focusing on questions of when and how to monitor activities.
When aiming to provide excellent customer support during and after the launch of a global content distribution platform, one of the first and most essential steps is discovering a way to isolate and categorize issues. After all, depending on the size of the customer base, hundreds, maybe thousands of support tickets may come in on a single day.
We found that a straightforward solution — and possibly many others will agree with this — was to group and filter issues based on country, platform, content, and the CDN used for distribution.
It’s also necessary to have a clear vision of what constitutes an issue or error.
We recommend building a separate knowledge base for all known issues and another separate one for instances that are not issues but were reported as such. This way, you can compare the ratio of problems to nonissues and see how big each reported issue is.
We have another excellent piece of advice for those building content distribution platforms for clients: understand that their VP and other C-level officers are all users first, stakeholders second. If they know the services and platform behavior and then use them accordingly, they will provide significant business insights and “function” as early testers in need of customer support.
Also, as we learned from our own making, they should always be informed of an upcoming marketing event!
We have also collected several general tips and tricks that are going to be helpful at all times when providing customer support:
- If an issue appears in the top country, it does not necessarily mean that it is present only.
- After deployment, make sure to check logs and performance metrics periodically.
- Operation teams must inform stakeholders about marketing events.
- Understand the difference between unexpected behavior vs. a natural bug.
- Be prepared that an issue could stay dormant during deployment and emerge later!
- You are not the only one who’s doing a deployment at the same time! The infrastructure, network, or partner affiliates also result in changes without notice.
- Remain wary of app-level caches during and after deployment as well.
- Focus on managing the correct error messages.
The multi-territory aspect of a global launch depends on four considerations: language, culture (or law), content release strategy, and time zone.
The last one is easy to define (but sometimes easy to forget); however, it is vital to map the content releases to the correct time zones!
The planning and implementation of content release strategies are related to the unique challenges you will encounter within each country, as well as the constellation of their linguistic, cultural, and legal concerns.
For instance, approaching content distribution in Latin America or Asia does not mean that you have to stream in additional countries now. Culture, language, and law all come into play.
The Brazilian LGPD is different from the European GDPR, just as their content rating systems also differ. For example, in Latin American countries, subtitle support is mandatory, and subtitles must be colored.
Some Asian countries censor certain content, and they also have different rating systems in place. Even in Europe, with a unified GDPR and content rating system, a separate content library is needed for each country because of the various subtitles.
Once we dealt with these obstacles and harmonized each content library with local laws and language, we could finally work on the actual content release strategy.
As we have deployed this platform in three localized versions in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, we have identified the key elements crucial to our success when releasing in each of those regions.
|Manifest||Per territory||Per territory||Single|
Brazil with advisory
|Localization||Original audio track with subtitle||Original audio track with subtitle
Voice-over in a few countries
|Original audio track with subtitles
Content Rating System
Content rating systems vary from country to country. Therefore, when compiling a content library and designing how that content will be distributed across multiple countries, checking in with rating agencies in those countries is a step that cannot be skipped.
The fact that each country works with different rating standards makes organizing content even more complicated. For instance, the American Motion Picture Association of America’s film rating system is different from the European standardized rating, while the Brazilian rating system differs vastly from both.
If there are content aggregators involved, you should also have to conform to their rating systems.
We had to face scores of difficulties when it came to a specific country or region’s preferences, language, or even currency.
The first challenge is possibly the easiest to imagine: consider the complex process of synchronizing video FPS (frames per second) with the subtitle’s FPS. Because yes, most of our cultural hardships during any launch stem from making sure that the subtitles are in place and according to the country’s standards and expectations (e.g., mandatory support of colored subtitles in Latin America). But, on the other hand, all content doesn’t need to use the same FPS.
How can you validate Chinese localization when you don’t understand the language and have no Chinese-speaking testers or translators at hand?
We usually solve this issue by playing around with the menus’ positions, checking which English menu is aligned with Chinese. However, thanks to the fact that you can search for content in two languages at once, we usually found what we were looking for in the end.
Local currency support boils down to two questions: where to place the thousands separator, and are decimals separated by a dot or a comma? For example, in Costa Rica, they write “1.000,00,” while in the U.S., it’s “1,000.00.” Dot for the thousands, comma for the decimals vs. comma for the thousands, and dot for the decimals. Similarly, the matter of presenting prices can be just as frustrating. Believe it or not, having the app display $10 can be confusing. Writing that could mean either Mexican pesos or U.S. dollars. You have to add the official currency abbreviation to the price: $10 MXN and $10
Single vs. Multi Manifest
Usually, there is an app manifest language list on your app in any typical case: the list of languages for which your app has declared support. However, in global content distribution platforms where you have several highly localized manifests and, preferably, a global one, you need to think of a traveling user who flies across countries, entering and leaving service zones that display these localized versions. The option to pick manifest preferences thus becomes another feature to implement as you tackle this problem.
Are you looking at options to monetize your content library? For example, would you be interested in knowing which strategy will fit your current business requirements or how you could improve the customer life cycle and keep the audience’s attention on your brand? At the same time, the ability to scale platform and operations become another integral element of successful streaming monetization strategies.
Blue Guava has been shaping the world of streaming since the concept’s inception, having aided a world-renowned streaming provider is launching its first global content monetization platform. We architected and developed this platform to support 18+ languages across 15 device platforms in 50+ countries and one of the most significant streaming events in the pay-TV industry.
Through ENT.360, our full-scope OTT solution, you can implement SVOD, TVOD, and AVOD business models, gaining access to a cutting-edge, fault-tolerant feature set that ensures high availability, data protection, monitoring, as well as multi-environment and multi-tenant solutions.