Experts from the leading content management system (CMS) company Atex partnered with Bell Media, Canada’s largest media company and leading content creator to develop Crave, Canada’s bilingual TV and streaming service with more than 2.5 million subscribers.

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In 2010, Bell Media initiated plans to create a streaming and video-on-demand service focused on TV programming. To prepare for launch, Bell Media partnered with leading publishing industry multinational Atex, an existing, long-term content management systems provider for different Bell Media web sites.  The result of this ongoing collaboration was the inception of Crave, Bell Media’s over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platform.

At the outset of this project, Atex and Bell Media recognized the need to jointly develop an innovative product to excel in the OTT services market. “Our mission was to offer the best OTT entertainment experience for Canadian audiences, with both English and French language content, accessible from the web, Android / IOS Mobile applications, and Smart TVs,” said Tod Madden, Director, TV & Network Engineering, Bell Media.

This required the development of a product capable of managing a huge video library, with tens of thousands of assets along with the associated metadata. Also fundamental was a totally cloud-based platform that could be implemented via Docker in order to leverage Bell Media’s private cloud investments.

In short, it was necessary to develop a new generation of CMS. “Our goal was to deliver a rewarding viewing experience across all devices,” said Madden. “We opted for a Headless CMS in the back end, fueling a consistent experience on all devices.”

This approach enabled the user experience to adapt to different devices used to consume content, deploying the most appropriate technologies for each device. Bell Media gathered user feedback to further improve the user experience, and Atex provided a system automation solution, integrating artificial intelligence tools into the process and using a unique Application Programming Interface (API) for all channels to optimize its team’s workflow. Today, Atex editors can create content that is always up-to-date across different applications. An equivalent user interface has also been customized to optimize the editorial team’s workflow.

Crave offers a vast selection of titles

Responding to the continued changes in how audiences access content, Bell Media identified the need to support increasingly diverse platforms, and partnered with Atex to address this new challenge, based on their specific know-how of Bell Media workflows and the OTT business. The result: the development of a next-generation CMS with the needs of this complex delivery model in mind.

The choice of the flagship Atex Content Engine (ACE) product arose naturally. ACE is an API-first, multi-channel content management that takes advantage of cross-platform publishing and supports all types of content. Flexible and extensible, ACE also has specialized features in the field of on-demand video, which can increase user engagement.

“Over the past two years, the Atex team has helped us evolve our Crave video streaming platform by making tremendous strides in automation and finessing the service,” said Chris Snyder, Senior Manager, Software Development, Bell Media. “Atex specialists listened to our requirements and integrated them into Crave accordingly.”

Crave now successfully uses ACE as its main content hub, which focuses on metadata to ensure a premiere user experience featuring customized content that is relevant and fresh to each individual. Atex also provided ad hoc consultants as on-the-ground, on-call resources to Bell Media.

The reality of COVID-19 introduced unforeseen changes to the OTT sector, including the sharp increase in entertainment content viewership. This period created an opportunity for Crave to bolster desired content, and to tailor the platform to better serve viewers with the content they want, when they want it, on any device. Crave accommodates its viewers with a unique, customized user experience thanks to a tailor-made approach via the ACE API, defining the new normal in personalized content delivery.

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