Claranet allows fans to keep an eye on Big Brother

Last summer, reality television phenomenon Big Brother, made its debut on Channel 5 and Claranet was selected to successfully support the programme with a scalable, high availability hosting and management service.

Using a hybrid cloud environment, our service enables the dedicated Big Brother website www.channel5.com/bigbrother to cope with surges in demand, while the service’s scalability ensures Channel 5 only pays for the capacity they need and use at any given time. Although the addition of Big Brother online has doubled Channel 5’s total web traffic, the applications have experienced 100 per cent uptime.

Channel 5’s digital offerings are centred around two dedicated Big Brother services: a standalone Big Brother site providing Video on Demand (VoD), live updates and editorial content, as well as a Big Brother 2011 Facebook app, both of which are hosted and managed by Claranet.

The deal to bring Big Brother to Channel 5 was signed with production company Endemol in April, leaving just five months before the first episode was to be broadcast. Claranet successfully implemented and tested the application hosting and management in only six weeks.

Paul Thornton-Jones, head of digital media at Channel 5 said:

The Big Brother audience is one of the most demographically valuable in the TV marketplace. Given the predominantly young audience’s preference for social media, our core strategy rests upon driving additional on-demand video viewing from audiences for the catch up-programmes and clips from the Big Brother House. The aim was to achieve this by encouraging user engagement through social media, which involves pushing news, content and interaction to Twitter, Facebook, and via the dedicated Big Brother website www.channel5.com/bigbrother.

If a Big Brother story breaks, it breaks online first; there is no way to predict when the next big story might occur. The application hosting therefore needs to be able to cope with huge traffic spikes. To be affordable, however, this capacity needed to be scalable so that Channel 5 is not paying considerable sums during periods of low demand.

Our managed application hosting, based in its own facilities, was complemented by using Amazon Web Services’ Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform, enabling dynamic provisioning so Channel 5 only pays for the burst capacity it uses.

Martin Saunders, Product Marketing Director at Claranet said:

The Big Brother website needs to be hosted separately from Channel 5’s other online properties to limit the risk of impact on main revenue generating sites such as Demand 5, Channel 5’s TV catch-up service.

The service is designed to handle 45,000 page impressions per second, so it can deal with the sudden surges of interest that is part and parcel of Big Brother. Factoring in the very unpredictability of the programme, the application hosting design gives Channel 5 the ability to scale the service to their needs in real time, and burst into the Cloud at times of peak demand, while the resilience of the service is evident in the 100 per cent uptime that has been achieved.

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