This content requires flash
"Claranet fully repaid our trust in them: they delivered on the guarantees they promised in their service level agreement by providing an affordable, scalable and ultra-reliable hosting and management service." Paul Thornton Jones
The acquisition of Big Brother represented the biggest original programming project since Channel 5 was bought by the Northern & Shell group in July 2010.
“From the very beginning of the project, we wanted to differentiate the Channel 5 Big Brother experience from that of Channel 4, which had been the home of the UK format for the previous ten years,” said Paul Thornton-Jones, Head of Digital Media at Channel 5.
Because the Big Brother audience is one of the most demographically valuable in the TV marketplace, and given the predominantly young audience’s preference for social media, our core strategy was to provide much greater opportunities for digital engagement with the programme,” continued Thornton-Jones.
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; and a Big Brother 2011 Facebook app.
To host and manage these applications, Channel 5 needed a trusted technology partner who could ensure the highest level of availability and performance for the services.
Channel 5’s 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.
Given the popularity and nature of the programme, these applications needed to be able to cope with extremely high volumes of traffic that could occur at any time.
If a Big Brother story breaks, it breaks online first; there is no way to predict when the next big story might occur,” said Thornton-Jones. The application hosting therefore needed to be able to cope with huge and unpredictable traffic spikes. To be affordable, however, this capacity needed to be scalable so that Channel 5 were not paying considerable sums during periods of low demand.
While maximising application availability is crucial to the success of Big Brother online, it is even more important that they do not affect the availability of Channel 5’s other sites, such as its catch-up service Demand 5, which provide important sources of revenue for the organisation.
A further challenge was the very short timeframe required for implementing the applications and the hosting environment: the deal with production company Endemol was agreed in April, barely five months before the transmission of the first episode. Once the digital strategy had been drawn up and the technical requirements formulated, only six weeks were left to implement and test the application hosting and management.
Channel 5 turned to Claranet, the managed services provider, to deliver the application hosting and management for its Big Brother apps. Claranet has been supplying IT services for the channel since 2008 when the channel created its Digital Media Group and selected Claranet to consolidate its contracts with multiple hosting and support providers.