Magic Genie, Can I
Have a PPV System?
Ireceive several emails a month from readers asking me about how best to approach a vid- eo problem, and usually they want an idea as
to how much the solution will cost. At its best,
an email will detail the current implementation, what the tech stack consists of, what at-tempt(s) have been made to correct problems
(and any subsequent failures), what deliverables are being sought, and what the timeline is.
At its worst, an email will ask for the moon with
no information related to the prior mentioned
points and require me to reply with a sincere
“this is how you tell me what your problem is in
a better way” set of steps to follow.
A recent example was a person inquiring
about a pay-per-view (PPV) chat for their website:
I was interested in having PPV chat on
my website. I have a site now that is host-
ed with [generic web hosting service pro-
vider] but they don’t allow video. I would
like to know if you can install my site or
just a page on [popular streaming server]
for me that allows my “performers” to be
available for pay per view chat 24/7. Please
send me a summary of what and how you
can do it for me with a quote. Thank you.
If you read this magazine regularly, you know
how many variables can be involved with any
streaming video deployment. It certainly can
be difficult for many product owners to describe
problems with a current deployment or to enumerate features they are looking to add to their
current offering. Many product owners routinely misconceive media servers as full application
servers, capable of serving web pages, video
players, and handling payment transactions.
Most of my reply to the cited email was a
set of questions related to the business case(s)
of PPV that I needed answered before I could
give any worthy quote. Here’s my list of discov-
ery questions that you should consider as you
seek out advice and/or assistance on a PPV so-
lution. Keep in mind that most PPV systems in-
tegrate with an CMS (content management sys-
tem) and paywall.
The first two questions seek to establish the
answer to the classic “build or buy” dilemma:
• Have you explored a turnkey service that
provides the features you are looking for?
If yes, which services have you reviewed?
• Do you have in-house technical resources
to manage support for a PPV system, or
do you seek an external vendor to fulfill
support and ongoing maintenance?
If you decide you want to build your own
solution, we need to answer these questions
• Do you need to tie in an existing user
(or subscriber) database with the PPV
system? What is your existing setup for
user administration? For example, do you
currently have a secure member login page
and member account management pages?
• Do you have an existing setup for accepting
credit cards or other forms of payment?
For example, do you have an integrated
PayPal pipeline already implemented for
other member services?
• What are the security requirements
for your PPV video? Are there specific
business rules you want to fulfill with PPV?
For example, do you need to implement
time-limited access to live streams? Will
streams require encryption?
• For what type of streams do you need PPV?
Live and/or VOD (video on demand)/
prerecorded video clips? Do you need to
record live PPV sessions for later VOD use?
• Where do you want the PPV player (and
publisher, if applicable) to operate? Are