Film Real

by Joshua Whitney Allen

High-speed data streaming brings Bollywood to Singapore

Published July 17, 2014


India’s world-renowned entertainment sector, now over 100 years old, is adapting well to the digital age.

It was 1913 when the silent film Raja Harishchandra, the story of a king and the gods he impresses, was released by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke. Over the next century, Indian films grew into a diverse cultural movement that spread throughout the country’s regions, with an industry located in Mumbai surging to prominence as India’s film epicenter: Bollywood.

Today, all of Indian entertainment is followed by admirers well beyond the country’s borders. Full of music, dance, love stories, and action, Indian media—with Bollywood at the forefront—has grown in sophistication, with technology enabling global audiences to enjoy movies and television shows from the second most populous nation on earth.

Spuul, an on-demand media delivery firm, launched in 2012 to bring entertainment made in India to the island it calls home: the Republic of Singapore, the religiously diverse, socially conservative city-state south of Malaysia.

Early on, though, Spuul faced a serious problem in its content delivery mission. Demand wasn’t the issue; Singapore’s tech-driven economy and population of over five million provides plenty of consumers for a Netflix-style delivery model.

Company At a Glance >>


  • Company Name: Spuul
  • Headquarters: Singapore
  • Industry: Online streaming entertainment service
  • Founded: 2010
  • Website:

Company Details: Spuul is an ad supported subscription service that legally provides online Indian content to anyone in the world, and offers both free and paid content. At Spuul, streaming video allows people everywhere to use mobile devices, PCs, connected TVs and game consoles to watch their favorite content whenever and wherever they want.

Started in 2010 in Singapore, Spuul was founded by three seasoned industry and technology entrepreneurs including Sudesh Iyer (the founder of Sony Entertainment TV in India), S Mohan (the founder of Accellion, buUuk and a number of other technology and venture companies) and Subin Subaiah, a seasoned senior banker (Bankers Trust Company, Deutsche, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Standard Chartered) who now helms the company as CEO.

IBM solutions: Aspera FASP high-speed file transfer

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But using traditional methods, the file transfer of movies and TV shows from Indian production companies to Spuul is painfully slow—especially through File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

“Our customers expect new content on a daily, if not hourly, basis and want to view it on their device of choice,” said Michael Smith, Chief Product Officer of Spuul, in an email. “We were hindered by slow upload times for big data, particularly for our feature films that can exceed four gigabytes for a single file. We needed a much faster way to expand our online content libraries with our content partners.”

This year, Spuul turned to Aspera, an IBM company that specializes in high-speed file transfer. Aspera anticipated the need for swift data movement and created a protocol that eliminates the distances and obstacles which slow the transfer of information. Acquired by IBM earlier this year, Aspera uses its patented FASP technology to handle transfer for media, financial, and government institutions, including Hollywood production companies and U.S. defense agencies.

“When we set out to adopt a new file transfer solution, fast speeds and strong security were the main priorities,” said Smith. “The ability to quickly and securely deliver fresh video content is critical in the hyper-competitive digital streaming market.”

By choosing the Aspera On Demand product, Spuul dramatically increased transfer amounts to almost three times their original delivery rate. “With Aspera, it doesn’t matter where content is created, where it lives, or how it is ultimately consumed—Aspera moves that content wherever it needs to go faster and more reliably that any other solution.”

Leverage cloud technology with Aspera
“Every industry in the world now is creating data that is getting bigger and bigger,” says Aspera Vice President John Wastcoat. “And almost every company is having issues sending their data from Point A to Point B, or in multiple directions. Traditional methods of sending data only allow you to do so locally. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) is by definition very slow and limited by distance.”

Our customers expect new content on a daily, if not hourly, basis and want to view it on their device of choice. We were hindered by slow upload times for big data, particularly for our feature films that can exceed four gigabytes for a single file. We needed a much faster way to expand our online content libraries with our content partners.

Michael Smith, Chief Product Officer of Spuul

As Spuul began to search for technologies to avoid these common transfer issues, they were aware of Aspera’s effectiveness as a transfer solution. “We had already experienced great success using the Aspera client, which was mandated by several of Spuul’s content providers, so it was a natural choice to take their workflow to the next level by selecting Aspera Platform On Demand for all uploads to the cloud,” said Smith.

According to its website, Aspera On Demand leverages cloud technology for big data applications by delivering files at high-speed through the cloud. Available as on-demand subscription services, the On Demand transport achieves line speed transfer rates, resume of partial transfers, and encryption in transit.

By implementing Aspera On Demand, Spuul completely replaced FTP, eliminating the bottlenecks and slow uploads of large files that are inherent in that traditional protocol, said Smith. “Aspera On Demand offered seamless, line-speed ingest and distribution of very large files to and from cloud-based storage, which allowed us to realize the full benefits of the cloud.” Implementation was easy, he explains; “It took just a few hours to walk through the steps with an Aspera team member.”

Transfer times tripled
The operational benefits of the Spuul-Aspera connection are dramatic, says Smith. “With Aspera On Demand, we immediately tripled the daily volume of video content uploaded and processed from our distribution partners from eight TV shows to 25. We now receive more than 40 GB of new HD video content each day.

“Aspera has reduced the time it takes to securely transfer large video files over any distance by up to 99.9 percent, allowing us to move through the steps of processing, transcoding, and making the video files available to our viewers as quickly as possible after each show airs.”

As Spuul continues to expand its media offerings, they are taking full advantage of Aspera’s scalability and usage-based pricing model, which enable Spuul to meet new subscriber demand for programming.

“Since our launch nearly two years ago, we have been able to quickly expand programming choices to nearly 1,000 Indian feature films and dozens of TV series in our current library.”



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