Platform rebuild for future-proof video streaming
Ziggo Sport Totaal

Platform rebuild for future-proof video streaming

Project summary

After years of successful operation, the OTT platform we had built for Ziggo Sport needed a radical tech update, an updated user interface and new marketing functionality. Taking care to preserve continuity in interfaces with dozens of external partners, we redesigned the system, recreated existing functionality and added new functionality in a more scalable, more maintainable, high-performance state-of-the-art platform. 

Services

Streaming Platform, Architecture, API management, Back-end development, Mobile development, Web Development and Hosting 

Release

New Ziggo Sport Totaal apps and website were released in 2021 

A fresh start

As a result of this project, the Ziggo Sport Totaal platform has come completely up to date with all interfaces, libraries and platforms it depends on. This results in better security and smarter functionality. Additionally, the platform gained new features for cross sell, upsell and personalized advertising. In rebuilding the system, we also took care to build it in such a way that it would be easier to swap out certain components in the future, updating them without too much impact on the rest of the system. This more modular architecture also makes the platform easier to expand and update. 

Although system performance has increased significantly, Ziggo Sports’s customers have always enjoyed best-in-market streaming performance. Ziggo Sport can now realize this performance at a lower cost, since one server can serve many more concurrent users than in the previous version. 

Rebuilding froms cratch

We have a long history with Ziggo Sport, building their apps, websites, content management systems, pay-per-view, transaction and payment systems. And, of course, developing both back-end, web interface and mobile apps for their video streaming services. The existing streaming platform had been running since 2012, with the last major update in 2016, and needed an upgrade. 

It was still working perfectly, but the world had moved on. In order to use the latest version of PHP, all software libraries, security patches and APIs, investments needed to be made. Some interfaces the system used, like Google’s payment interface, were even set for deprecation. Marketing also had wishes for better personalization and new branding. And as these necessary changes amassed, rebuilding system from scratch became a viable option. 

Managing complexity

The backbone of the system is a PHP back-end that collects data from all sorts of sources: video providers, TV guide information, competition schedules, origin servers, streaming services, CDNs and cable companies, among others. It provides administrative functions like scheduling of matches and setting payment or subscription parameters per match. We custom-built the entire system eight years ago, so we knew exactly where the challenges were going to be. This helped us manage the complexity of this rebuild and deliver the project on time, on budget. 

Updating apis

We started by creating an inventory of components and a list of third parties the system interfaced with. Main questions: which interfaces are going to impact our work and how can we complete this project with a minimum of disturbance for these partners? The most important partners for Ziggo Sport are 15 cable companies. Fully optimizing our own system would have meant asking all of them to change their interfaces. This was not an option, so we built an adapter layer that would keep their interfaces intact, while providing our new system with a modern, flexible way of processing the data. 

There was a great deal of communication with all the other partners. As it turned out, many of these had started offering updated versions of their APIs that we could use. This included TV guide interfaces and the payment interfaces from Google, Apple and Adyen that provided improved security but also smarter functionality. 

Partnership and trust

The great advantage of long-lasting partnerships is that you build trust. Ziggo Sport trusted us to make the right technical decisions and to get the project done in time. That said, communication lines were always open and the people from Ziggo Sport were briefed in a monthly meeting. They were, of course, also involved in acceptance of everything we built. 

Apart from that and some dependencies with Marketing and other development projects that touched some of the same components we did, we were given free rein in planning our resources and choosing the project approach. For a digital agency, this is a unique position to be in and we are thankful for the trust that allowed us to complete this project quickly and successfully.