Mobile Virtual Network operator Youfone has built a reputation for challenging its established rivals in the highly-competitive Dutch telecoms market. So, when refreshing and expanding its TV offering, the company decided to avoid spending 12-18 months on a traditional set-top-box project, choosing instead to benefit from 24i’s rapid-deployment capabilities and launch the country’s first Android TV service.
To simplify the process further, Youfone selected a truly end-to-end solution from 24i and sister company Amino, covering everything from user interfaces for multiple devices, content management and transcoding, to STB hardware and middleware. The entire project took just five months to launch and gave Youfone a competitive edge in an increasingly tough market.
“A key advantage is that it is truly end-to-end: covering all the functions we need from content ingest, encoding and transcoding, management, customer care, content distribution, all the software required from front-end to back end and even the set-top boxes serving our TV viewing customers.”
The turnkey solution based on Android TV Operator Tier gives Youfone subscribers a flexible TV experience with live TV, catchup, restart and nPVR for around 100 channels. They can also access music and games through the Google play store, as well as apps from third parties like Disney+, Spotify and the Dutch national broadcaster, NPO. It has traditionally been difficult for smaller telcos to negotiate and manage such a wide range of premium content for their STB services, gaining access to these apps through the Google Play Store gives Youfone a strong edge in a competitive market as consumers can use this single device to access multiple catchup and SVOD services. The Amino 7x STBs have Chromecast built-in so they can also cast photos and other content to the TV screen from their phone or tablet.
The viewing experience extends beyond the living room with interactive TV apps for both iOS and Android devices powered by 24i’s SmartVideo and SmartApps solutions. Users can watch Youfone Channels live, pause, rewind, restart and record wherever they are in Europe.
A powerful partnership
The Youfone project was the first to unite 24i and Amino’s solutions to create a truly end-to-end operator experience. The modular solution specified for Youfone is a hybrid cloud deployment. A 24/7 headend is located on-premises in a private cloud to minimize infrastructure costs, while other services are hosted in the public cloud for maximum flexibility and scale. In addition to reduced costs and the rapid time to market, Youfone has the convenience of working with a single vendor for the full TV proposition.
“There has always been a will to deliver a great product for our team and the Amino/24i team. The process itself has been very cooperative on both sides, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do it in five months.” says Sjors Hendriks, COO Youfone Netherlands.
The Youfone deployment takes advantage of two key 24i products. Smart Video handles the head-end functionality of ingesting, transcoding and preparing the video content, including multi-DRM protection with Widevine and Fairplay. Metadata is also ingested and enriched before all content is made available to the different consumer applications on STB, iOS and Android. Youfone accesses cost-effective CDN services via a pre-existing Smart Video integration with partner CenturyLink.
The Smart Apps solution takes care of those apps, offering a single code-base for cross platform user experiences. The intuitive and configurable consumer applications for mobile devices mirror the STB application features and functionality. Catchup content, restart and nPVR are all configurable in the 24i Content Management System.
With only a small team in-house to manage the TV service, Youfone takes advantage of 24i’s Smart Operations service to offload the day-to-day technical management of their pay TV infrastructure. 24i’s team provides 24/7 monitoring of all aspects of platform health including ingest, transcode, capacity and load. This complete support service from 24i covers all third party integrations such as the CDN.