Innovator Spotlight: NDS - APIs to Expand Brand and Integrate with Social Media
NDS is a leading global provider of end-to-end software solutions for the pay television industry. The company enables pay-TV operators to differentiate their service by delivering a unique viewing experience to their subscribers—anytime, anywhere, on any device—while ensuring that only paying viewers can view content.
James Field, Director of Technology, R&D New Initiatives, NDS, talked to us about how NDS uses APIs to help television operators cost-effectively expand their brand to companion devices and integrate with social media.
How are you using APIs today?
We use APIs as the backbone of the NDS Service Delivery Platform (SDP), an offering that enables our television operator customers to broaden their subscribers' reach beyond television to companion devices. Through the APIs on the NDS portal, operators can open up their platform in a controlled way. Developers can then access the television resources on this portal to create innovative contextual TV-centric applications that directly relate to the content viewers are watching.
Opening up via APIs is a leap for some operators, so we’re letting them do this in a measured fashion. For example, there are access controls embedded in the NDS SDP API to ensure that operators have complete control over the volume and type of functionality being made available to developers.
What need were you addressing with your APIs?
We have constantly endeavored to be at the forefront of new media to change the way the world is entertained and informed. It's an arms race in television, and we feel strongly that if our customers don't open up their platforms, they aren't going to move as fast. In this industry, even incumbents must use APIs to remain competitive.
We firmly believe that if you can control your brand and provide access to your content in a controlled way, this is much better for your customers and your business. APIs can help operators be much more competitive without developing their own applications.
How have your APIs evolved over time?
We've got our API core, which is one suite with about 19 different API function calls that we believe provide the features developers need. We're definitely looking to expand this. The key is to make sure that not all APIs are available to all developers, and we use Apigee to control access.
What kinds of business or technical benefits have your gained from your APIs?
APIs are the foundation for a valuable service that we can now offer our customers – the NDS SDP. Through the APIs, our customers can establish a presence on any connected consumer device without a major investment in development or integration. This helps them focus on their core business -- providing a rich television experience – not on software development. Promoting third-party development with APIs can also produce a rich array of apps that consumers can choose from.
How do you work with Apigee?
We are essentially white labeling Apigee as the API management platform for the NDS SDP. As a technology provider, we need to make sure we're providing the best technology and services to customers. We recognized API trends early on, and rather than thinking we should build it ourselves, we worked with Apigee. Apigee has a great track record and can scale. Our customers are deeply concerned with scale and reliability, and Apigee delivers this.
We also use Apigee to show to partners what API calls are being used. For each API call, you could potentially have a roadmap for each one.
How do you use analytics?
API data is becoming more and more important. If you're not able to capture it, and process it, and show how it's going, you're missing a big opportunity. We provide data analytics through Apigee to determine what services are most valuable to developers.
Some of our customers are throwing data away. Any data you have can be an asset, and we can give really, really finite data on customer behavior.
The data won't lie. The main thing is to never throw anything away and to use analytics as much as possible to measure performance.
What's your vision for your API program?
For television operators, a very controlled and defined technology strategy is not in the best interest of their business or their customers. Using APIs to fuel third-party application development will produce something that is fantastic for consumers and operators. Our API will help customers discover what they like sooner. How can operators keep up otherwise?