Yandex Blog

Yandex’s KinoPoisk HD to exclusively stream Doctor Who and other BBC content in Russia and the CIS

Ready to “exterminate” your boredom this winter and find out what happens in the upcoming season of Doctor Who? We have great news! The TARDIS has officially landed in Russia and the CIS! Following a new deal between our streaming platform, KinoPoisk HD, and BBC Studios, we will become the exclusive video on-demand (VOD) home for all existing series of Doctor Who in Russia, plus the upcoming 12th season of the show. 

Today, together with BBC Studios, we announced a new agreement for KinoPoisk HD to exclusively host over 100 hours per year of brand new BBC premium dramas, comedies, and children’s titles, plus content from a range of British producers in the BBC Studios’ 2020 catalogue.  The new partnership includes a commitment from Yandex to develop BBC Studios scripted formats and AVOD rights to over 150 episodes of BBC Studios’ children’s brands. 

Back in 2013, Yandex acquired KinoPoisk, a popular database for movie information in Russia, with the goal of providing viewers with a central hub for intelligent streaming. As a first step, we added streaming capabilities to KinoPoisk in 2015, and have continued to enhance the service by adding smarter, personalized features for viewers. We also committed to expanding the KinoPoisk catalog,  creating opportunities for viewers to watch entertaining media from various networks and studios. KinoPoisk HD now offers over 9000 films and series to our viewers! In addition to a vast collection of domestic content, we have a catalogue of international series’ from studios such as CBS and ABC Studios, plus licensed content from Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and Sony Pictures, among others. 

Scripted content produced by BBC Studios, which we started showing in 2018, have been a huge hit on our platform. The most popular BBC series’ on KinoPoisk HD include Doctor Who, Luther, Life on Mars, Misfits, Torchwood, The Durrells, Call the Midwife, War & Peace, and Les Misérables. In fact, the Doctor Who series ranked among the top-15 most-watched programmes on KinoPoisk HD in 2019. We’re thrilled to provide our viewers with even more exclusive content from the BBC Studios with this new licensing partnership.

Aside from the Doctor Who fandom, Russian viewers have an enormous appetite for British drama, including Sherlock and Les Misérables. According to Mediascope*, Sherlock was one of the most-watched international scripted titles on Russian TV over the past three years, topping the list in 2017 and taking the number two slot in 2018 and first quarter of 2019. Les Misérables proved to be the most-watched series during the first quarter of 2019, and it's no surprise why.  Les Misérables brings a blend of 19th-century French upheaval, stellar acting, and, of course, those memorable music numbers, starring Dominic West, David Oyelowo, and Lily Collins. 

Viewers won’t need a “sonic screwdriver” to tune in. KinoPoisk HD subscribers will soon have access to these series on-demand through desktop, smart TVs, and the mobile app. We will release season 12 of Doctor Who in Russia the day after it is broadcast in the UK on January 2, 2020.  These new viewing opportunities will further enhance the experience for millions of viewers on KinoPoisk and those subscribed to Yandex.Plus.  Our Yandex.Plus subscription service provides users a high-value, bundled offering of multiple Yandex services, including unlimited music streaming, ad-free movies, discounts for taxi and car-sharing rides, and other benefits.  Yandex.Plus subscribers receive access to the majority of the KinoPoisk HD catalogue.   

We’re excited about all the great programmes we have lined up for our viewers and the continued high-quality streaming experiences ahead. After all, "we're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?"

*Mediascope data, ITVR, Russia, 100+ audience, target 4+ all, Date Range: 01/01/2017 - 12/31/2017, 01/01/2018-12/31/2018, 01/01/2019-05/26/2019, 00:00-30:00, category: scripted series, origin: all excluding Russia, Ukraine and post-USSR countries, duration 5+ minutes, all federal channels excluding Carousel.

Yandex.Live, Our Intelligent Streaming Platform

Every day, billions of people around the world consume video content, whether it be viral videos, television shows, movies, sports, or any number of other events.  Russians are some of the most prolific viewers of media in the world, as TV and movies are extremely popular across the country.

Until recently, streaming content in Russia was largely a challenging process, and content often wasn’t easily accessible.  As the country’s largest internet company and a leader in intelligent products and services, we realized we could use our expertise to deliver a better streaming experience.  We set out to develop an intuitive, smart platform that offers an engaging one-stop-shop for streaming in Russia.  

Today we’re excited to be revolutionizing the streaming experience in Russia for tens of millions of viewers every month with our Yandex.Live service, which makes it easier than ever to watch content online.  Yandex.Live (in Russian) brings together all of our video services, powered by our intelligent machine learning tech to create a personalized viewing platform with a vibrant community. The free, accessible service makes it easy for people to watch their favorite serials, films, games, and events wherever they may be.

The Journey to Yandex.Live

As a first step to launching our streaming platform, in 2013, we acquired KinoPoisk, a popular database for movie information in Russia with a strong reputation among Russian movie buffs.  In 2015, we added streaming capabilities to the website, turning KinoPoisk into a central hub for online media.

We developed a smart recommendation system for KinoPoisk, using our machine learning technologies to make personalized content suggestions based on user behavior.  We also introduced our Deep Dive technology, which uses facial recognition to detect actors and provide viewers with their names and filmographies.

Over the years, we’ve expanded our media offerings with the expertise we gained from turning KinoPoisk into a hub for intelligent streaming to ultimately debut Yandex.Live in 2018.  Yandex.Live launched as a free web portal for Russians to stream their favorite TV channels. An intuitive interface allows viewers to quickly switch between channels, just as if they’re watching a traditional TV.  Aside from TV shows, Yandex.Live also streams live sports events, concerts, and theatre shows.

The Yandex.Live homepage

We integrated our existing video services into Yandex.Live, so the streaming platform is now our central video platform.  Users can continue to watch live TV through Yandex.Live, but the service now integrates films from KinoPoisk, exclusive content from influencers, and live concerts and sports.  Yandex.Live is an intuitive, smart portal for Russian internet users to view entertainment, and with this year’s launch of an HDMI dongle, they can now stream Yandex.Live from their TVs.

A Smart Streaming Platform

One of the most exciting developments in our online video efforts has been the integration of our machine learning expertise.  Yandex.Live users benefit from a customized array of media recommendations, powered by our intelligent algorithms. As users gain access to more and more streaming content, our technology helps push the most relevant videos to our users.

Our machine learning algorithms cultivate an intelligent viewing experience by using activity like watching history and ratings.  In May, we expanded our recommendation engine to include an entirely new channel powered by AI, “My Live.”  The new channel presents a personalized list of videos from around the web - whether it be Russian television networks, vloggers, or movies.  Users can like and dislike videos to fine-tune our algorithms, which also consider watching history and other viewing behaviors to create the feed.

While we use AI to help users find the most relevant streaming content, we also use the tech to make sure content is of the highest quality.  Since 2018, we’ve been using our super-resolution technology, DeepHD, to improve the quality of streams in real-time on Yandex.Live.

Community Viewing

Part of what drives us to continue enhancing the intelligent tech behind Yandex.Live is the service’s engaged community of users.  Every day, millions of viewers tune in to Yandex.Live, and we’ve added features to create a communal viewing experience. Each channel in Yandex.Live has a chatbox to the right of the stream, enabling users to discuss what they’re watching with other viewers and react to the program.

Across our sports programming, we’ve added the ability to respond with emojis during live streams.  As sports tends to generate high emotions, the emoji reactions are a popular way for viewers to have an immersive experience.  They can react to events in the game and see how others are responding. We rolled this feature out during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, when people could watch streams of the games on Yandex.Live and react with emojis and using the chatbox. Football games continue to be popular following the World Cup, with viewers engaging with the community as they stream Russian Football National League games.

A live stream of a sports event, with the reaction emojis displayed in the lower right

Yandex.Live also helps bring events to people who may not have a chance to see them in person.  Theatre broadcasts, which we stream live, bring some of Russia’s biggest theatrical shows to viewers across Russia.  A performance of Pyotr Fomenko’s “Happy Village,” for example, attracted twice as many viewers when streamed in Yandex.Live as it had across its entire nineteen-year run.  Yandex.Live viewers can also use the service to watch international shows right from their homes; for example, a theatrical performance of the German play “Mir nämeds uf öis” by Christoph Marthaler proved to be popular, which we broadcast with Russian subtitles.

We look forward to enhancing Yandex.Live with even smarter capabilities and more content to offer our users the most advanced streaming service in Russia.  We will continue to add content from around the globe as we bring international events and media to our millions of viewers.