Screenz: Powering the future of entertainment and live viewer interaction

About Screenz

Screenz is a cross-media, software-based entertainment platform. It provides networks, publishers, and broadcasters with new ways to engage their viewers, as well as real-time data analysis, enabling increased monetization. It aims to be the leading product for content providers that want to enlarge their entertainment-driven community space, and manage and reward their audience.

Industries: Technology
Location: Israel

Screenz implements Google Cloud Platform for its services enabling live viewer interactions, scaling up from zero to millions of viewers within seconds and maintaining low latency.

Google Cloud Results

  • Enables scaling from zero to millions of viewers within seconds with Cloud Load Balancing, which doesn't require pre-warming
  • Achieves fast response times thanks to a global network and caching facilities on Cloud CDN
  • Supports end-user customization with data analysis using BigQuery, improving monetization for clients

Migration completed in under 3 months

While in the United Kingdom nine out of ten people still watch live TV every week, being able to watch TV shows any time, any place, and on any device is becoming the norm. For broadcasters, navigating this new territory means inventing formats that encourage viewers to make the most of the different channels available, and leveraging the opportunities offered by second-screen interactions. Screenz is a software-based cross-media platform that helps them to do just that, harnessing digital technology to open up new ways to interact with viewers and better monetize those interactions.

"Screenz is an all-in-one platform providing a comprehensive range of cross-media services," explains Keren Abraham, VP Platform Strategy at Screenz. "We offer publishers, broadcasters, and networks everything they need to implement innovative digital technologies, as well as real-time data analysis so they can understand their audiences better."

"Performance is the key element for us, in terms of choosing a provider. As we work with live television, our platform needs to be ready to scale immediately and support millions of interactions. The service needs to be flexible, reliable, and fast."

Keren Abraham, VP Platform Strategy, Screenz

For example, during live television events, viewers can vote through their devices using Screenz's software and affect the outcome of the show, such as by voting for band members on the TV show La Banda. "That means within a few seconds, we have to handle millions of interactions," says Keren.

The Screenz platform was first built on local hosted servers in Israel, but as the platform began to expand internationally, those servers didn't offer the performance necessary to handle international clients, such as ABC in the United States or Globo in Brazil. In order to create an architecture that could immediately respond to large peaks in demand from all over the world, Screenz built a new infrastructure on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

"Performance is the key element for us, in terms of choosing a provider," says Keren. "As we work with live television, our platform needs to be ready to scale immediately and support millions of interactions. The service needs to be flexible, reliable, and fast."

Creating an infrastructure to scale in seconds

Viewers are keen to experience new ways of interacting with media content, but the delivery needs to be smooth and glitch-free. "Our clients and their viewers are located all over the world, and we can sometimes have two or three clients broadcasting concurrently," says Keren. "While we know broadcasting times in advance, we can't know exactly how many viewers will tune in and interact with a show. Any delays lead to frustrated viewers." To solve its scaling challenge, Screenz looked to switch from local hosted servers to a cloud provider with a global network.

"We wanted a more accessible and user-friendly data analysis platform. As BigQuery is easy to use and allows integration with external services, it enables us to manage our data, reports, and dashboard analysis in one place."

Keren Abraham, VP Platform Strategy, Screenz

It built a new infrastructure on GCP, moving its application servers, CMS servers, and database to Compute Engine, with Cloud Pub/Sub, Cloud Storage, and Stackdriver. "The decision was made in early 2014 and we worked closely with the Google Cloud team in Israel, as we had a strict timeline for the implementation because of our client commitments," says Keren. "The migration went very smoothly, and we had everything ready to go into production within three months."

"The Google Cloud team helped us to solve a key issue with Cloud Load Balancing," says Keren. "Because we receive so many requests in such a short amount of time, our usage can sometimes be mistaken for a Denial-of-Service attack. To solve this problem, when we first migrated, we raised tickets with the Google Cloud team to let them know when to expect traffic peaks, and as a result everything worked smoothly."

Screenz now uses Cloud CDN and Cloud Load Balancing to help ensure its global content delivery is as fast as possible, enabling real-time interactions for its viewers.

"Thanks to Google Compute Engine and Cloud Load Balancing, we are able to go from zero to millions of users within seconds, as the Load Balancing doesn't require pre-warming," says Keren.

Personalizing content for better monetization

As well as supporting new program formats through live viewer interactions, working with Screenz also helps networks and broadcasters monetize their offering by analyzing those audience interactions. "As end users opt in to data monitoring when using our apps, our customers are able to track and analyze their behaviors and choices, in order to learn from them and create even better content," Keren says.

Screenz has recently switched to BigQuery to power its data analysis. "We wanted a more accessible and user-friendly data analysis platform," Keren explains. "As BigQuery is easy to use and allows integration with external services, it enables us to manage our data, reports, and dashboard analysis in one place."

"We have achieved our performance goals: our response times are fast, and latency remains low, no matter where the request comes from. That means we can offer real-time interactions for the audience, as well as real-time analysis for our clients, improving their experience and monetization opportunities."

Keren Abraham, VP Platform Strategy, Screenz

Using the Screenz data analysis dashboards, clients are able to target content to specific users. "As the analysis takes place in real time, they can personalize the ads and banners that viewers see according to their demographic and interests," says Keren. "They can also send messages according to user segments, for example, tailoring content by the result of a specific interaction."

Optimizing performance across a global network

Since migrating to GCP, Screenz has the infrastructure required for live, global TV interactions. "We have achieved our performance goals: our response times are fast, and latency remains low, no matter where the request comes from," says Keren. "That means we can offer real-time interactions for the audience, as well as real-time analysis for our clients, improving their experience and monetization opportunities. After the end of the show, when our traffic requirements fall down to almost zero, we can scale back and control our costs."

Now, Screenz plans to start using Cloud AutoML in order to help its clients predict user behaviors and further monetize content for broadcasters, as well as continue to expand globally.

"We're bringing to life amazing new TV formats that represent the future of television," says Keren. "Working with Google Cloud, we have felt supported in our journey as the team really understands our goals. Whether it's working on optimizing our costs or solving an infrastructure challenge, they are always there to help, and that is what creates added value and gives us confidence in GCP as a provider."

About Screenz

Screenz is a cross-media, software-based entertainment platform. It provides networks, publishers, and broadcasters with new ways to engage their viewers, as well as real-time data analysis, enabling increased monetization. It aims to be the leading product for content providers that want to enlarge their entertainment-driven community space, and manage and reward their audience.

Industries: Technology
Location: Israel