CBC/Radio-Canada is the national public broadcaster and one of Canada’s largest cultural institutions. As the oldest existing broadcasting network in Canada for both radio and television, CBC/Radio-Canada strives to makes Canadian content available through all major channels, including radio, television, and digital platforms.
CBC/Radio-Canada set a goal to reach 18 million subscribers by 2020. While ambitious, it knew it could be achieved with a strong strategic focus on website optimization, content personalization, and mobile. Before this corporate objective, CBC.ca websites were operated from a content management system (CMS) designed for simplicity. It was straightforward: create one format per image, deliver web pages in one layout, and keep everything under 700 KB. This made it easy for developers, but the lack of responsive design also meant there was room for improvement. To reach its target goal, the CBC.ca team needed a balanced approach to both speed and quality, and this meant an overhaul of its website design.
The plan: Create highly engaging CBC.ca websites with responsive design chosen to accommodate different screen sizes, all fed by dynamic APIs. Once underway, the WebOps team noticed that while the new pages were dynamic, they saw a decrease in “first meaningful paint” due to heavy calculation happening on the client side to identify the optimal image size for every display. Also, the page weight increased from ~700 KB to 6-8 MB, further exacerbating the problem. Massimo Mollica, Manager of WebOps & Infrastructure at CBC/Radio-Canada, stepped in to help solve the increased image weight problem while ensuring they met their corporate objectives.
CBC/Radio-Canada is focused on getting visitors to consume content. In the media and broadcasting industry, providers understand the importance of not only capturing but also retaining people’s attention. One way to attract and engage customers is with rich online imagery; however, high-quality images can potentially increase page weight and cause site latency. After testing several products, it was clear that Image Manager performed well above the competition. With real-time compression always running in the background, performance was consistently 15% better than its next closest competitor.
After integrating Image Manager, the impact was almost immediate. Automated image compression reduced images by 80-90%, which in turn decreased dynamic web pages from 6-8 MB to less than 1 MB. And the bounce rate, which is acceptable at 50-80% for media, dropped to less than 50% with page loads under four seconds. With these results, the CBC.ca team is confident that Image Manager will play an equally important role in its mobile and personalization strategies.
CBC/Radio-Canada’s goal to reach 18 million Canadians in Canada by 2020 was surpassed nearly two years ahead of schedule.
Responsive design and a new (machine learning powered) session-based recommendations system, rich multimedia interactions, and a mobile-first strategy with Image Manager optimizations enabled them to reach this milestone. A user-centric mindset coupled with the right technologies helped CBC.ca take their online experience to the next level.