Topic is a new subscription digital streaming service from First Look Media that targets viewers based on a “state of mind” rather than demographics or a particular genre. It offers an eclectic mix of high-quality, thought-provoking global video programming that you’re unlikely to find on other OTT platforms, including films, TV series, documentaries and shorts.
Topic launched in November 2019, just days after Disney+, in a streaming market more crowded than ever before. Despite an extremely tight schedule, the user experience was a top priority. Topic needed to match the expectations set by the OTT market leaders like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
"Consumers expect your apps to work as well as Netflix, even though no-one else comes close to Netflix’s investment," says General Manager Ryan Chanatry. "That’s where 24i comes in, leveraging their experience across many services to help us keep viewers engaged.”
To keep things simple and on schedule, Topic chose an all-in-one solution from 24i. Smart Video provides all their backend technology needs, including cloud-based ingest, transcoding, DRM and content delivery.
Smart Apps provides the multi-platform consumer applications which are easily configured using the Backstage content management system. Topic also took advantage of 24i’s pre-integration with subscriber management capabilities partner Cleeng to handle user registration, payments and entitlements. The consumer apps supply data to another partner, Jump data driven analytics, to gather actionable insights on usage patterns.
The Topic team wanted to reach the maximum range of consumer devices from day one. “You’re testing and developing and trying to decide how the apps will look and feel across the different platforms,” explains Chanatry. “There’s lots to consider and it’s a pretty difficult thing to do in a limited amount of time. That’s why we wanted to partner with 24i, because they have expertise around each of those platforms.” Taking advantage of 24i’s off-the-shelf solutions allowed Topic to be live on all its major target platforms within three months of project initiation, with later iterations adding further functionality.
"We have content collections by language, by country, by themes. It’s very simple for us with Backstage to pull together a new list, drag and drop, hit save and it’s almost instantly out there."
Keeping Ahead of the market
With a small in-house team of content curators and designers, Topic takes full advantage of the Backstage CMS. Content categories are fine-tuned across the different platforms to showcase new and popular content based on usage patterns and subscriber feedback. Business models can be adjusted on a per-content-item basis, for promotional purposes - for example to put one episode of a new series outside the paywall to attract new subscribers.
24i’s ongoing roadmap of new features for Smart Apps means Topic doesn’t need its own app development team to keep its user experience competitive with market rivals. Smart Video’s cloud-based content processing means Topic is further primed to handle future growth, without having to make a heavy up-front investment in infrastructure. And because Smart Apps is pre-integrated with a range of third party solutions including advertising networks and recommendation engines, Topic has the flexibility to add these capabilities in the future to drive its business forward.