HOOQ, a Singaporean video-on-demand streaming service with millions of subscribers, has adopted New Relic for monitoring and app optimisation so it can focus on its core business, build capacity and expand product features.
A joint venture between Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., and Singtel, HOOQ delivers over 35,000 hours of Hollywood, regional and local titles to customers anytime, anywhere. HOOQ released its inaugural service in the Philippines, before expanding to Thailand, India, Indonesia, and Singapore.
Popular TV shows on the platform include Arrow, Grey’s Anatomy, Vampire Diaries and The Shield.
Why New Relic?
New Relic is crucial to HOOQ’s desire to ensure customers receive the highest levels of service. HOOQ’s streaming service now responds to user requests in less than 200 milliseconds; 40% faster than before. A 60-75% reduction in the number of unnecessary datasets has allowed HOOQ’s engineering team to save on infrastructure costs and optimise product features. Meanwhile, HOOQ’s user base has increased dramatically, with the number of customer playback requests growing from 1000 in 2015 to millions per day in 2019.
The challenge of supercharged growth
HOOQ’s exponential growth has seen its engineering team grow by 800% from five to 40 between 2015 and 2019, and its daily user playbacks increase by over 1 million. Such fast and aggressive growth has made monitoring vital.
"Back in 2015, I remember the first time we launched the beta we only had a few thousand or so users every day. Now we have millions of user playbacks per day,"
says Dwi Sasongko Supriyadi, VP of Engineering, HOOQ.
Faced with competition from global giants such as Netflix and Disney+, HOOQ wanted to ensure they delivered the best possible user experience in the region. In a tight market, HOOQ didn’t want to lose its core focus on building capacity and product features by investing in in-house application monitoring and profiling. Finding the right partner to do this was key.
A key overview of app performance
Dwi had previous experience with New Relic in a company he formerly worked for. He was impressed by its capabilities and considered it a good fit for HOOQ. Both New Relic and HOOQ share the same philosophy of focusing on customer excellence.
"Software is central to creating an outstanding customer experience, and this is especially true for companies such as HOOQ who operate in the competitive video-on-demand industry," says Dmitri Chen, New Relic’s Exec VP & GM Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ).
New Relic Insights is HOOQ’s primary dashboard and source of information on app performance and customer behaviour. Dwi and his team spend a lot of time using the product to make decisions based on the configured data included in its dashboards, such as:
- Log Metrics
- AWS Monitoring
- iOS and Android app performance
- Tracking Apple TV, Google Play
Additionally, Dwi uses New Relic’s Application Performance Monitoring (APM) to deliver real-time, trending data about HOOQ’s application performance as well as measuring customer satisfaction. His use of the alerts functionality enables him to receive notifications when key performance metrics fluctuate.
Actionable insights and improved Customer Experience
With New Relic taking care of monitoring, HOOQ’s engineering team has been able to shift their focus away from constant, repetitive tasks to work on core features and product enhancements.
The team has built its entire business ecosystem around Insights, and New Relic is helping to deliver critical optimisation.
"Our legacy API is used to create one of the main product features of HOOQ - where users come back to play their video from where they last watched. We call it our 'Heartbeat API' and run it in a Node.js code. At the start we ran 14 instances. We've since managed to reduce these instances by 60-75% and optimise the feature," Dwi says.
"For the core playback API, we have five to 10 milliseconds, and that translates directly to a video start up time of one to two seconds. We can't get a speed this short unless we really know the details of every step of the request flow, and New Relic has given us a greater understanding of the factors serving a user request."
New Relic’s Dmitri Chen says that having greater visibility over video start up times has given HOOQ a distinct advantage over its competitors.
“Companies like HOOQ know that delivering great customer experience comes back to having observability built directly into the software. By being able to capture a constant stream of actionable insights in real-time, HOOQ’s team has become more responsive to customer requests, and is now better equipped to solve big picture challenges," Dmitri says.
The future: Optimisation
Going forward, HOOQ is making the shift to becoming a data driven company; moving from monitoring to optimisation, which will eventually result in business and process optimisation. Dwi and his team are looking more closely at how they can optimise the services they build and reduce what isn’t needed.
"In my opinion, some of our infrastructure costs were being wasted on elements such as runaway instances and infrastructure modules not used by our customers. We are always looking for ways to improve our infrastructure and become more efficient," he says.
"We are now at a stage where everything is up and running. As such, our focus is on getting product features out the door and tested by users. This is a constant, but as we grow, priority is placed on the health of our systems and we sustain them."