Starz Play Delivers High Volume Billing to 19 Countries | Gotransverse
Case Study

Billing by the Billions: Gotransverse helps Starz Play deliver high volume subscription management and billing to 19 countries

Overview

Starz Play is a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service that streams thousands of blockbuster Hollywood movies, TV shows, documentaries, kids’ entertainment, and same-dayas-the-US series – plus dedicated Arabic and Bollywood content – to 19 countries across the Middle East and North Africa.

Starz Play chose Gotransverse as the billing platform to offer its customers the ability to pay via a broad range of timebased usage and payment methods, which is known to increase customer adoption, engagement, and satisfaction.

“Gotransverse has been a trusted partner for more than five years. Their platform
and unique monetization expertise have given us the ability to offer our customers multiple payment options and methods and to scale quickly as we add customers, countries, and carriers. The implementation and execution have been on-time, on budget and with highquality. Over that time, we have seen the global OTT market evolve from its infancy to the market disruptor it is today.”

Saleem Bhatti, CIO Starz Play

As part of launching a new service, a billing solution was needed that could handle high volumes, across multiple countries in a rapid rollout

Starz Play has been building out a technology stack to manage an over-the-top (OTT) content business since they launched in April 2015. Starz Play’s latest offering was launched as a joint venture in Pakistan and built on the platform called Starz Play Connect. Starz Play Connect encompasses a best-of-breed integrated system approach from video streaming through billing and collections that they can offer as an OPEXbased cloud offering. The region was primed for this type of offering, so they could scale quickly to satisfy subscribers from at least 19 countries, supporting multiple languages and currency requirements.

In addition to typical billing requirements, complex payments from the Direct Carrier Billing factor needed to be accommodated

Consumers in the Middle East present a unique set of payment needs and challenges. A popular payment method is to pay through a phone bill instead of a typical credit card, ACH, or other payment methods. This can prove to be complicated for billing providers, who are not capable of supporting this method of payment across multiple international carriers.

Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) is highly complex from an operations perspective and relies heavily upon post development and implementation support to succeed. The initial API integration is relatively straightforward once technology teams from the OTT and carrier sides have agreed on business rules and billing system integration activities. Significant challenges arise when subscription management rules begin to affect businesses midstream when new business rules are introduced. Managed and unmanaged telecom rules behave differently for revenue recognition due to grace periods and activation/deactivation updates not posting correctly to back office systems. The Gotransverse revenue recognition engine, which is highly configurable and multitenant based, and can run daily provides clear visibility on the revenue composition for Finance and Management. The system handles more than 10 million general ledger postings a day.

We chose Gotransverse as our strategic partner due to their industry-leading telecom and billing domain expertise which enables them to deftly handle internationalization of billing at high volumes - including mobile billing - and their ability to scale as we expand. The Gotransverse solution enables us to provide an optimal experience for our customers, who prefer to pay as they go via mobile platforms without longterm commitments.”

Saleem Bhatti CIO Starz Play

“Each carrier has a defined number of rules and requirements that align with their core business, but not necessarily in concert with an OTT vendor or other third-party vendor models. We needed a billing system partner that was flexible, could manage highly complex business and account management rules to be applied to meet market requirements.” said Saleem Bhatti, CIO Starz Play.

“Starz Play’s operations team is instrumental to whether a DCB implementation is successful in the long-term. Superior technology plays a vital role for a successful OTT offering, as does telecom domain expertise and healthy and adaptive partnerships with carriers. The partnership between Starz Play and Gotransverse is built on this experience.”

Starz Play Connect includes a payment-retry engine, utilizing periodic batches based upon client defined variables. This includes supporting ‘step-down’ charging and variable charge amounts, which are eligible for managed and unmanaged payment methods. These charging methods can optionally run in parallel for all payment methods that support retries – and supports more than 5 billion transactions per month.

Other operational challenges with carriers include handling change requests with little or no warning; this includes data loss on outages, regular reconciliation processes to keep internal and external system values aligned, frequent maintenance and re-integrations where partners require integration modifications.

Conclusion

The new offering provides more flexible payment options for customers across the Middle East

Backed by a team of both in-house experts and vendors like Gotransverse, the Starz Play Connect platform serves a thriving business in MENA and Pakistan, serving thousands of hours of content and collectively integrating with 19 Middle Eastern countries, 25 carriers for DCB and numerous content bundles. The platform’s rapidly deployed services are hosted on a highly available and distributed infrastructure using a mixture of public and private cloud environments. The monetization suite of services coming from Gotransverse are augmented with augmentations through Starz Play Connect that are available on local networks residing inside Internet Exchange points regional to where subscribers are best served.

The Gotransverse billing platform was integrated from the start to produce a holistically positive customer experience, enabling customers to choose weekly or monthly subscriptions and to pay one of two ways: through their mobile carrier or via credit card. With Gotransverse, Starz Play can automatically calculate fees per customer, per invoice.