Liberty Global plc (“Liberty Global”, “Liberty”) is the world’s largest international TV and broadband company with operations in more than 30 countries across Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Liberty invest in the infrastructure that empowers their customers to make the most of the digital revolution. Thier scale and commitment to innovation enables them to develop market-leading products delivered through next-generation networks that connect their 25 million customers who subscribe to over 50.4 million television, broadband internet and telephony services.
Delivering video over IP has become essential for broadcasters to continue to reach and expand their audiences. The multi-screen home is now commonplace, with many households owning multiple laptops, smartphones and tablets.
This change in the connectivity landscape and consumer behaviour has led to a rise in the concurrent use of devices while watching television.
Liberty Global wanted to harness technological advances to enhance its service offering and to allow the company to meet the changing content needs of its audience. Delivering video services over IP was core to the new strategy, enabling Liberty Global to retain and expand its customer base and maintain market leadership.
The initiative became Horizon TV, and with it Liberty Global wanted to break away from the tradition of designing and building a one-off project that is subsequently hard to scale. The goal was to create an extensible, multi-country, multi-currency, multi-language, multi-platform service.
As part of this multi-screen video strategy, the company also had a clear vision of transforming companion devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops into television screens.
In April 2010, based on its extensive experience and capability in this eld, Piksel was chosen by Liberty Global business UPC to lead systems integration on the project and to deliver Orion, the Online Enterprise Service Platform(OESP) that underpins Horizon TV. Working in close collaboration with LGI’s dedicated teams and partners was critical to the project’s success.
After a year in development, Horizon TV was first launched in September 2012 in the Netherlands before being rolled out to the remaining territories. Horizon TV is a family of media products that allows customers to view and share their favourite content across multiple devices. It has a sophisticated user interface that seamlessly navigates and recommends digital content from cable, on-demand libraries, personal devices, selected apps and online sources.
The Horizon TV gateway also serves as a full triple-play box delivering not only video, but also the fastest Internet and voice connections along with a wireless network for the home.
Horizon TV currently delivers subscription VOD, transactional VOD (pay-per- view) and 150+ channels of linear content to UPC’s digital subscribers in the Netherlands and Switzerland. It provides a web, iPhone and iPad interface allowing users to browse and view UPC’s linear EPG information and remotely set their associated set-top box (STB) to record. Users can create and manage playlists, resume content between iOS and web, receive targeted recommendations based on their STB and web-based habits, and interact with their social network.
The OESP built, managed and run by Piksel provides extensibility and scale to ensure that multiple LGI businesses around the world are able to quickly and successfully take new services, such as integrated multi-screen, to market.
It integrates deeply into UPC’s back-office systems to seamlessly link the technical and business platforms. This multi-country, multi-currency, multi-language and multi-platform service provides a very powerful, horizontally and vertically scalable architecture that enables LGI to elegantly, cost-effectively and rapidly move this proposition into additional territories. The platform is operationally configurable so the offering can be extended to additional countries with minimal functional changes.
As part of the integrated technology approach, Piksel built the Horizon TV player and was responsible for end-to-end testing of the platform, building and managing of the headends, and coding the OESP. Piksel is also responsible for hosting and management of both the OESP and headends.
This was a complex service to get to market as it went live with multiple business models and consumer experiences across multiple devices, languages and currencies.
Piksel delivered a platform solution that seamlessly integrates with any back- office system and can easily manage enhancements, delivering the flexibility and extensibility that is critical to success. The service was successfully rolled out in Switzerland in five languages in February 2013 with remaining territories closely following.
Concurrent with the launch of Horizon TV, all customers at UPC Netherlands with digital TV and internet subscriptions can now watch television online. This online service can be used by smartphones and tablets (as an app for iPhone and iPad), as well as through computers and laptops in and around the home.
Customers can log in via the app or via the dedicated website with their personal UPC account to stream 150+ live TV channels and access thousands of television shows/episodes.
Piksel was presented with an award for Best Technical Innovation at the LGI technical summit in Amsterdam in September 2012 for its outstanding work on the Horizon TV project. Additionally, the iPad app that LGI launched with the service became the number one app in the Netherlands iTunes store.
Pay-TV providers are facing challenges from over- the- top services. Piksel’s core business is helping Tier 1 service providers like Liberty Global’s UPC stay competitive by successfully transitioning their services to multi-platform, allowing consumers to experience content anytime, anywhere.