A Modern Times Group (MTG) subsidiary, TRACE is a leading urban and entertainment-focused broadcaster, renowned as the voice for young African talent and the global driver of afro-urban entertainment. Launched in 2003, TRACE has been collaborating with emerging and established talent to generate premium afro-urban content and leading digital platforms for a potential audience of 400 million fans in 8 priority markets: France, Africa, UK, US, Canada, Brazil, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.
TRACE owns and operates engaging and innovative TV channels, FM radio stations, digital and mobile services, and develops content production and syndication activities through carriage deals with leading cable, satellite, DSL, mobile and OTT operators.
With the advancement of OTT services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, and the proliferation of mobile devices as a gateway to access viewers’ favourite content, TRACE realised it needed to cater to its audiences’ viewing habits to compete more effectively on a global scale. However, the ability to provide a cost-effective, multi-device, service that could appeal to its niche young, multilingual audience – and be built for a quick market turnaround – proved complex. Additionally, it was imperative for this service to be able to reach new audiences around the world that are not in a position to receive its channels through traditional TV distribution methods.
TRACE’s initial objective with this new offering was to enable a B2C service that could engage with its audience on a two-way basis – something that traditional broadcast, given its delivery method, does not allow for. The second objective was to enable a B2B service to give mobile operators a platform to help them with customer acquisition and retention for its own customer base.
After an extensive review of multiple vendors, TRACE turned to Simplestream. The decision to hire Simplestream stemmed from its sophisticated in-house technology, how it operates as a business, and its robust experience and track record with helping companies successfully build, grow and future-proof dynamic, engaging and profitable OTT services.
“We wanted a partner who was able to deliver a spec for a complex platform. There are multiple launches, multiple languages and multiple channels. We had to clear a lot of rights issues for so many territories and input a lot of metadata,” recalled Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of TRACE Group Olivier Laouchez.
Simplestream employed its Cloud TV Platform for the project: an end-to-end, white label solution that enables rapid deployment of next-generation TV Everywhere services across multiple screens and territories.
In less than 12 weeks, Simplestream used Cloud TV Platform to design, build and launch TracePlay: the subscription video on-demand (SVOD), live TV and radio offering that includes support for unlimited live channels or events, automated catch-up, real-time video editing, premium VOD delivery and comprehensive user rights and metadata management.
At launch in late March 2017, TracePlay was available on desktop, iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices in the UK and Ireland, South Africa, all French-speaking European countries (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Netherlands), US and West Indies. TRACE was among one of the latest SVOD services to launch in the African market – a process that posed unique developmental and logistical challenges due to the region’s bandwidth and connectivity issues.
The result is a scalable, future-proofed and global OTT service that, at launch, included:
- The entire suite of TRACE’s HD live channels and VOD with high quality adaptive streaming
- 2,400 VOD assets
- Tools enabling TRACE to create multiple thematic content packs based on deep metadata that provide viewers with multiple personalised ways to discover relevant content across all screens
- Region-based content controls that enable TRACE to customise and tailor how content is presented and featured to enable real-time changes that best reflect audience consumption patterns
- Completely cloud-based content ingest, transcoding and service management
- Localisation of all available content in English and French to accommodate the growing global viewership
- Powerful subscriber management and support for multiple currencies to drive customer acquisition and retention
The brand new service sets TRACE apart with significant industry leading functionalities all built, delivered and managed through a single, unified, end-to-end workflow. As a result, TRACE has been able to rapidly expand its market share – and the response has been overwhelmingly positive:
“Simplestream has been an amazing partner. The flexibility of their Cloud TV platform and the company’s talented design and development teams have enabled us to launch our exciting new service on time and in budget,” Laouchez added.
TracePlay demonstrates how a niche content player can scale-up and innovate with agility as quickly as any of the giant OTT providers to gain a competitive advantage and succeed in today’s competitive OTT/TV Everywhere market.