NBC.com is the online presence of NBC, the broadcast television network and flagship brand of NBCUniversal, a multi-national media conglomerate. NBC is responsible for some of your favorite entertainment, such as The Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, and Law & Order: SVU.
NBC has a lot of data of many different kinds, and it all has to be delivered across a lot of different platforms. Rather than building one way to deliver the latest episode of Dateline on Roku and a whole other way to deliver it on NBC.com, the NBC team wanted a single—and fast—solution. While NBC.com has their own internal web team, they need the expertise of the Four Kitchens Web Chefs to augment their team.
NBC.com data includes video clips, full episodes, character bios, production credits, and a localizable schedule for over 230 NBC affiliates nationwide. Collaborating closely with NBC, our Web Chefs worked on building a content API that would allow NBC to deliver their data across different platforms and on a fully responsive NBC.com main site.
Migrating toward a new platform
The initial work with NBC was a challenge—we wanted to provide a fast, reusable solution for delivering content, and while we love Drupal, it’s not great at the kind of scaling needed for NBC. We eventually found a solution to take advantage of the good things Drupal does, while migrating to a new Node.js framework that can provide the scale NBC.com needs for its UI. Along with the content API, the new UI for NBC.com is something our Web Chefs were heavily involved in helping to build.
With an eye on success, the Four Kitchens team continues to work to hit every benchmark, every time. When it comes to test coverage, we like to “keep it 100”—making sure every line of code has a test that touches it for 100% coverage. This allows us to limit the number of regressions we see so that when we implement a new bit of code, we can make sure it doesn’t break a feature we’ve already fixed.
The first broadcast network on Amazon Alexa
Inspired by the Alexa codebase developed for SyFy.com (another NBC Universal property), NBC.com came to the team at Four Kitchens to build out the first Amazon Echo “skill” for a broadcast TV network. The Alexa interface on Amazon Echo has a unique way of processing spoken language; the Web Chefs had to anticipate not just how people search for shows on NBC, but also how they might talk to their Echo. With the addition of a specific
[alexa] field in the content data model, Echo can parse the information on NBC.com and use that in its response.
In the two years since we first starting working with NBC, we’ve built a relationship of trust. As NBC’s digital presence grows, our team is helping them rely less and less on Drupal, making things less custom-fit and more reusable across platforms, finding ways to manage their content once and then present it everywhere.
- Built the Drupal-powered API for The Tonight Show
- Built the Node.js-powered API that runs Saturday Night Live and NBC online
- Moved NBC.com to a “headless” site structure
- Built the Amazon Alexa content API
- Helped update the NBC Roku application
- Drupal 7
- AWS Lambda
In Previous News
- NBC.com: Building Streamlined Solutions and Trust
- “Alexa, tell me about NBC”, how we made the first Alexa skill for a broadcast network.
- We won! Emmy, 2014 – Outstanding Interactive Program – for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
- Adios: A Lightweight Process Manager for Node, Elliott Foster