Founded in 2010 through the merger of three ISPs, Waoo (pronounced “wow”) was originally a joint venture by a number of Danish utility companies who each wanted to increase their sales of fiber connectivity. They recognized the value of working together to develop and market a unified brand for their broadband, pay TV and telephone offering.
From day one, Waoo relied on a solution from Nordija, now part of 24i, to bring its Pay TV service to life on managed set top boxes (STBs) as well as other devices including iOS and Android mobiles and tablets, web browsers and Apple TV boxes. The service includes live TV channels, network PVR, catch-up TV and a VOD rental store. The 24i platform provides content management, the UI and UX on all devices and management of all consumer entitlements. In addition, 24i’s expert team provided integrations with Waoo’s choice of third-party solutions including streaming servers from Edgeware, Verimatrix DRM and Analytics from Nielsen, as well as Waoo’s BSS solution for user management and billing. Work is ongoing to integrate additional analytics from Nielsen.
Ground-breaking innovation gives streaming customers full flexibility
“Fiber broadband is a premium service, but TV is a real differentiator for us in a market that’s increasingly commoditized,” says Martin Jürgensen, Waoo’s Senior Product Development Manager.
“Customers expect a great TV service as well as a great fiber connection. We see ourselves as a challenger in the market, so we need to be inventive to compete with the bigger companies. We’ve always tried to ensure our TV offering has the latest ground-breaking features.”
As an example of this market innovation, Martin Jürgensen cites the level of choice they offer consumers: “We were one of the first companies in Denmark to offer an a la carte approach to streaming channels. Several years ago, the 24i team created our channel store which is a self-service environment which allows our subscribers to pick and choose the streaming channels they want in their package. The user can do this directly from their TV remote and, because of the integration with our billing system, the channels are provisioned instantly and the user can watch their choice of channels straight away.”
Aggregation is everything: Android TV launch brings consumer convenience
Now owned by a single utility company, Fibia, Waoo continues to provide Pay TV services to the customers of power providers throughout Denmark. As part of their continuing efforts to stand out from the crowd, the company has recently launched a new generation of STBs that make use of Android TV Operator Tier. The boxes are driven by the 24i backend and feature a custom launcher built by the 24i team.
“Aggregation is the keyword,” says Martin Jürgensen. “The Google Play app store allows us to preload the new TV boxes with apps from our many streaming services like Disney+, Discovery+, Viaplay and the national broadcaster DR. The user can also download apps for themselves like Spotify or games. This means the box becomes more versatile, more like a media hub in the home. Customers only have one place to go to get all their content. In many cases, they can even add the cost of the subscription to our partners’ services onto their Waoo bill to reduce their admin.”
There are also operational benefits for Waoo in making the switch to the new STBs: “If you are an operator of our size, Android TV brings many advantages, because Google provides the patches, security updates and development of the platform, so we don’t have to do that.”
Simplifying content search and discovery for streaming
Of course, with content aggregation comes increased challenges around content discovery, and Waoo has tackled this by rolling out 24i’s Unified Search capabilities. Users can now get integrated search results from across the Waoo platform, including catch-up TV, the EPG (TV Guide) and more than 12,000 TV and Movie titles available to rent in the “Waoo Bio” VOD store. Martin Jürgensen says the feature is already proving popular: “As a viewer, you just have one place to go to search to find the content you’re looking for, so you don’t have to browse all kinds of catalogues and archives. You can just start typing the name of an actor or a show and then the result will pop up. It’s an easy way to discover content and it works across STB, web, mobile phones etc.”
A cloud-hosted future awaits
For Waoo, the introduction of the cloud-based Unified Search is an indicator of their desire for a more virtual future that takes advantage of the benefits available with cloud hosting. “24i is helping us to move in the right direction here,” confirms Martin Jürgensen.
“We are definitely going all-in on the cloud based services and we do not want to have any local services or host servers in our data centres if we can avoid it, so we want to offload as much as we can to the cloud. We see our relationship with 24i as being much more of a partnership than a vendor-supplier-customer situation."