Case Study:

Viacom

How RealEyes developed a static HLS packager system to help Viacom manage its immense content library

In the media and entertainment industry, the need to stream, store and easily access massive amounts of video content from any location is imperative. Doing so with an outdated storage system makes this even more challenging. Prior to working with RealEyes, Viacom had been managing its content library with a CDN-specific, simple HLS dynamic packager, forcing them to constantly re-package content and limiting their functionality, efficiency and scalability. Viacom came to RealEyes for help migrating their library and coming up with a long-term, in-house, advanced static packager solution. RealEyes was able to help Viacom reach their goals by executing the following:

  • Creating an all-encompassing custom solution to migrate Viacom’s HLS dynamic packager to a static packager system
  • Implementing a reliable and dynamically scalable solution for frame-accurate, precise, on-demand ad-insertion while also eliminating the need for constant video re-packaging.

PLATFORMS

Server

DELIVERABLES

Static HLS Packager

About VIACOM

Viacom is a global company home to a leading portfolio of multi-platform entertainment brands, some of which include Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Networks, BET and Showtime. Viacom connects people all over the world through television and film, live events and studio production.

Challenges

Faced with ongoing business costs associated with inflexible content management technology, Viacom knew they needed to make an upfront investment with a team of expert developers to create a highly scalable solution. Rather than using an off-the-shelf SaaS solution, Viacom chose RealEyes to develop a solution to be owned in-house after completion, equipped with the custom logic and functionality for tackling the complexities of managing a content library of their magnitude.

About VIACOM

Viacom is a global company home to a leading portfolio of multi-platform entertainment brands, some of which include Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Networks, BET and Showtime. Viacom connects people all over the world through television and film, live events and studio production.

Additionally, Viacom needed a solution to help manage its extensive library of video content across all of its different properties. Their goal was to migrate to static, cloud-based, prepackaged HLS (HTTP live-streaming) assets, allowing their team to store HLS assets themselves rather than as MP4 files.

Also, Viacom’s workflow was exceptionally limiting, both technically and from a logistics perspective, as it only allowed for the use of a single CDN. To expand their business opportunities and technical reach, they needed the advantage of delivering content across multiple content delivery networks (CDNs) as well as user devices - simultaneously increasing the need for enhanced interoperability. Viacom also required that this multi-CDN solution be consistent with requirements such as compatibility with new and legacy content, players and monetization opportunities, all while handling complex media problems regarding timecode, languages, and closed captioning.

How RealEyes Helped

To create the desired static packaging system, Viacom partnered with RealEyes due to the team’s experience and technical expertise in media workflow management and HLS content. By showcasing evidence of their capabilities and technical expertise, such as what RealEyes has already been able to achieve with Media Orchestration Engine (MOE), Viacom was confident in RealEyes’s capability and technical expertise in media workflow solutions and products - having solved similar challenges for others.

RealEyes was able to consistently work at ground-level with Viacom, avoiding communication delays, reducing turn-around-time between off-shore teams and efficiently implementing custom changes when the client needed it.

RealEyes kicked off the project by utilizing their open-source encoding and packaging applications expertise to identify what solutions already existed in the market. Based on their research, the team then created a mix-and-match of open-source, third-party technology and their own custom solutions to meet Viacom’s needs.

RealEyes was able to consistently work at ground-level with Viacom, avoiding communication delays, reducing turn-around-time between off-shore teams and efficiently implementing custom changes when the client needed it.

Viacom needed this solution to support:

  • JIT packaging
  • Multi-language audio insertion with time mappings
  • Ad conditioning for seamless server-side ad integration
  • A sizeable queue management system that was fully and dynamically scalable, and able to monitor the large amount of necessary API integration
  • A fast and accurate solution for conditioning monolithic multi-chapter streams for ad insertion

To add even more complexity to the project, the solution had to be collaborated on by 40+ offshore developers, managers, and key stakeholders, all in different timezones. With developers dedicated to the project full-time, RealEyes was able to work at ground level with Viacom, avoiding communication delays, reducing turn-around time between teams, and implementing custom changes when the client needed it.

Technical Outcomes

RealEyes’s solution enabled Viacom to supply their end-users with the most up-to-date streaming features, providing the opportunity for better delivery and competitive pricing in a multi-CDN solution. This strategy also allowed Viacom to maintain compatibility with legacy content and players (aka older code). This approach ensured a seamless transition for Viacom and their customers.

As one of the most innovative portions of this project, RealEyes managed to overcome the challenges of providing on-demand ad breaks. This required inserting ads at irregular stream intervals, or re-encoding a small portion of the video to create cue points directed at intervals outside of existing iFrames. RealEyes implemented monolithic ad insertion for this purpose, which enabled Viacom to dynamically add cue points into their HLS manifests, cutting the stream at frame-accurate, precise locations for on-demand ad insertion.

Since The Project
The Solution Has:
  • Packaged over 3.6 million videos for Viacom using the new static HLS packager system
  • Drastically improved packaging time, functionality, and memory management
The Results

Viacom content is consumed by millions of viewers all over the world and therefore, any change in the management of their video library means shifting processes at a very large scale and with intense precision. The pure volume of video assets that needed to be processed, along with the sheer number of instances required to efficiently distribute content, made the reconstruction of Viacom’s video asset management system a challenging and exciting project to work on. RealEyes produced outstanding results in the realm of video asset management - delivering a product that met all of Viacom’s unique needs and desired advanced capabilities.

Since The Project
The Solution Has:
  • Packaged over 3.6 million videos for Viacom using the new static HLS packager system
  • Drastically improved packaging time, functionality, and memory management

The ability to store static assets affords Viacom a more reliable system for streaming video content from its vast content library. With enhanced control over the management of their video content (including the pre-packaging, storage and testing of their assets) Viacom is able to deliver high-quality video content despite fluctuating bandwidth availability across all of their CDNs.

Due to RealEyes’s focus on knowledge transfer, Viacom was empowered to be self-sufficient in maintaining and fully controlling their end product. Equipped with new capabilities and enabled in the ability to carry the product forward, Viacom can now dynamically condition videos for server-side ad insertion, saving them time and resources that would otherwise be dedicated to re-encoding each video in its entirety. Since the project, RealEyes has packaged over 3.6 million videos for Viacom using the new static HLS packager system, a system that has been pivotal in drastically improving packaging time and memory management.