Sky Italia

Sky Italia improves online experience by accelerating video content upload by 650% with Akamai's new high-speed file upload solution

"With a 2500-movie library, almost 5 million subscribers and more than 2 million weekly downloads, it is important that we are able to offer new content in the fastest and most effective way without affecting quality. Since we added Akamai’s new Aspera high speed file upload service to our Netstorage platform, we have dramatically increased upload speed, resulting in an optimized content management workflow”

Vincenzo Roggio , Distribution Platform Design & Development Engineer , Sky Italia

The Situation

Sky Italia launched in July 2003, serving up a unique entertainment model in Italy and revolutionizing the TV model by combining the best national and international programming with the most innovative technologies. 4.73 million Italian families – with a total audience exceeding 15 million viewers – have chosen to subscribe to Sky. The company offers more than 170 themed and pay- per-view channels – including 62 in high-definition and one in 3D – as well as more than 80 audio and digital radio channels.

With more than 100 million movie titles downloaded since its launch, Sky has been the first Italian television platform to broadcast a high-definition signal and provide its subscribers with a personal recorder, My Sky HD. Through Sky Go it was the first Italian broadcaster to offer a wide range of channels available on demand, from mobile devices, tablets, PC, Mac and smartphones. Moreover, it has been the first broadcaster to dedicate a channel to 3D broadcasting. Finally, it has been the first to offer, through the Sky on Demand service, the opportunity to download and store TV programs selected from more than 2,500 constantly updated video titles always available.

The Challenge

Since their launch, the Sky Go and Sky on Demand services have quickly gained in popularity. As of August 2014, Sky Go and Sky on Demand recorded over 3 million combined active users. To cope with this demand and an increasing amount of content offered via mobile devices, Sky needed to improve the upload speed of titles onto its storage systems. Historically Sky Italia had used standard FTP upload into Akamai’s NetStorage solution. Following the success of its new offerings, this approach wasn’t able to effectively sustain the content upload workflow. This delayed time to market and led to customer dissatisfaction with the new services.

The Goals

Sky needed to meet two key requirements to address its business goals:

  • Increase content upload speed onto its storage systems: Sky had to manage the content workflow more efficiently to support its new viewer offerings.
  • Improve the offering and the quality of its content: Sky wanted to grow the breadth of its offering with no additional infrastructure investments.

Why Akamai

Integration with Aspera

Because Akamai was already providing cloud services and content delivery network solutions to Sky, it was natural to confirm the partnership to address workflow and content upload issues. After understanding Sky’s challenges fully, Akamai proposed its new fast upload solution based on a close integration between Aspera and its Netstorage platform. Aspera is one of the leading high- speed file transfer solutions and enables easy, fast upload of rich media content onto the Akamai Intelligent PlatformTM. By combining Aspera with Akamai’s Netstorage environment, Sky had an improved and simplified workflow with increases in file upload speed by up to 650%.

“With a 2500-movie library, almost 5 million subscribers and more than 2 million weekly downloads, it is important that we are able to offer new content in the fastest and most effective way without affecting quality. Since we added Aspera to our Akamai Netstorage platform, we have dramatically increased upload speed, resulting in an optimized content management workflow,” says Vincenzo Roggio, Sky Italia Distribution Platform Design & Development Engineer.

Enriching Content Offering, Improving the User Experience

For a long time, Sky has been using Akamai’s Media Delivery Solutions – a service that makes it possible to quickly distribute and improve the quality of online rich media. Thanks to this solution set and ongoing technological innovation, Sky has been able to ensure an uninterrupted stream of HD video optimized for either online or mobile viewing. The service has also enabled Sky to ensure the best quality viewing experience, even during high online traffic peaks – such as big sports events.

“Thanks to Akamai solutions, our subscribers can access a continuously updated video library featuring thousands of titles, which they can instantly download and view whenever they want, even from mobile devices”, explains Roggio.

Anticipating the Future: Mobile Content

Aware of the growing trends to watch media on mobile devices and the way people interact with content whilst on the move, Sky expects to continue investing in relevant technologies. In order to keep its competitive advantage, the company must act rapidly to changing consumer demands, taking advantage of solutions that provide flexibility, reduce complexity, and support different mobile strategies. With that in mind, Sky selected Akamai to enable its Sky Go service for mobile video consumption. Thanks to Akamai’s fast upload solution, it has been able to provide content for mobile viewing from smartphones, tablets, and laptops with100% availability and at unprecedented quality.

“Our ultimate goal is to offer live and on demand content via the web, with the same or higher quality than that available via satellite or Digital Terrestrial Transmission, regardless the number of simultaneous connections. With Akamai, we feel confident in achieving that goal”, concludes Roggio.

About Sky Italia

Sky Italia is the Italian pay TV fully owned by 21st Century Fox. Since it started in 2003, its customer base has rapidly grown up to 4.730.000 subscriptions recorded in June 2014. Sky is presently offering more than 170 dedicated theme and pay per view channels, with a rich offering including feature films, sport, news, entertainment and children’s programmes. Sky is the first Italian television to broadcast a HD and live 3D content, offering a package of more than 60 High Definition channels and a channel fully dedicated to 3D programmes. Moreover, thanks to My Sky HD it is possible to record one’s own favourite programmes and access the Sky On Demand service, while Sky Go offers mobile viewers a wide range of channels and on demand content. Further information available on: www.sky.it