Piksel delivered Sky Go, a TV everywhere service, helping Sky Deutschland reach new customers and modernise their offering.

Sky Deutschland AG is the leading pay TV company in Germany and Austria, with more than three million subscribers. Sky offers over 70 channels including live sports, current films, award-winning television series, children’s programming and documentaries. Sky subscribers have access to 66 channels in high definition, including an exclusive 3D channel. The innovations Sky Go and Sky Anytime enable consumers to view content wherever they are and whenever they want to view.

The challenge

Television viewers today expect to be able to enjoy video on multiple devices. Media companies and platform operators need to respond to remain relevant to their audiences, or risk losing viewers and ultimately revenue.

Germany and Austria are among the highest potential markets for pay-TV across Europe. In light of the acceleration of demand and high levels of competition in the German broadcasting market, Sky Deutschland took the decision to invest in the diversification and innovation of its business, and keep ahead of the competition.

To achieve this goal it embarked on a project to implement a multiscreen service. As well as meeting the expectations of the consumer this would increase the subscriber base and decrease churn. A key part of the project was delivering the new services without significant increases in management and operational overheads.

With a target launch date of April 2011, Sky Deutschland launched Sky Go, a TV everywhere service. Recognising the need for expertise and experience in this advanced field, the company selected Piksel as its technology partner to deliver the service.

The solution

Sky Go makes it possible to watch Sky’s exclusive content across multiple screens including iOS devices, the web and Xbox 360. The service also allows Sky’s premium customers to use various connected devices to view a large library of content, including on-demand Hollywood blockbusters, sports and live events. Piksel has worked in close partnership with Sky and delivered a smooth integration of publishing workflows and the introduction of effective automation procedures for video content.

Sky chose subscription video on demand as its business model for the new service. It allows subscribers to Sky’s existing channels to upgrade their subscription to the Sky Go package. This means Sky’s customers can use the service via a second set-top box and on their PCs and mobile devices. The Piksel platform was implemented to support the commercial requirements as well as providing smooth integration of the automated publishing workflows required to format the content for different platforms as well as to make it available for search and download.

To meet subscriber expectations, the service has been expanded to cover streaming of the linear channels. The iPad app enables subscribers to watch linear channels at any time as well as accessing the video on demand content. It also offers a unique data centre of sporting events and related statistics.

The Piksel VCMS (Video Content Management System) platform has powered Sky Go since its launch. Implementing a single content and asset management backend, Piksel VCMS protected by the Piksel Guard DRM (Digital Rights Management) suite, has ensured an efficient and flexible service is maintained.

The first phase made content available to computers via the web. The second phase of Sky Go was built using the multi-device capability of Piksel VCMS to extend the service to even more connected devices: iOS tablets and smartphones, and the Xbox 360 games console. Other devices are in the deployment roadmap.

Piksel VCMS is a multimedia, multi-platform content management system with integrated asset management designed for high pro le, high throughput applications such as Sky Deutschland. It includes backend processing to efficiently control and orchestrate both asset management and editorial work flows throughout the whole digital content life-cycle through to multiple delivery channels and devices. It provides a robust architecture for nonstop video processing, scaled to support thousands or even millions of users.

It is partnered with Piksel VCMS Guard, a digital rights management application with pre-configured plug-ins for simple integration. It means that the protection software communicates directly with third-party systems such as the asset management and work flow engine that is driving the preparation and transformation of the video assets.

Sky Deutschland also uses Piksel VCMS Player SDK, the toolkit to develop smart video player applications. These can support innovative business models and revenue opportunities through plug-in business applications, like dynamic and interactive advertising, product placement, video-driven e-commerce, and home shopping.

System Integration was undertaken in partnership with FINCONS Group, the prime contractors for all professional services, while Piksel mainly covered the VCMS suite configuration services.

The results

Sky Go achieved over fifteen million unique viewer sessions in the first quarter of 2013 alone. The multiscreen service also features full social media integration, allowing users to recommend the latest video content to their friends.

“We are proud to be working with Piksel as their platform reflects Sky’s standards for great content and innovation. The new service extends the relationship we have with our customers through Sky Go, and allows them to take their multiscreen viewing experiences to a new level. Piksel has been a very able partner that matches innovation in video delivery with Sky’s superior content offering.”

Mauro Di Pietro Paolo
VP Information Technology

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