With U.S. consumers spending an estimated $329 million on the top 10 subscription video-on-demand apps in just App Store and Google Play during the third quarter of 2018 — cord cutting is no longer a fad. It is a true shift in consumer engagement.
That figure is up 15 percent from the $285 million spent in the first quarter of this year and over-the-top (OTT) media offerings have quadrupled in number since 2010. The OTT mega-trend is showing no signs of slowing.
While names like Netflix and Amazon Prime have been established for a while, their initial offerings were far from streaming media. Additionally, this entertainment revolution has produced many more dominant forces – Hulu, Roku, Twitch, and Sling are just a few examples of companies shaking the industry to its core via streaming services.
The impact of these companies is so monumental that even the mighty Disney is now having to play catch-up – ending its relationship with Netflix at the end of the year to launch its own streaming service, Disney+, by the end of 2019.
Customer expectations are in fast-forward
Media and entertainment companies are being urged to innovate fast, provide flawless user experience and deliver it all through the right customer-centric business model. While business is booming for some, others are finding this new reality too difficult — especially established, formerly dominant brands.
Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are fantastic examples of the subscription video on demand model. AOL On and Yahoo Screen have shown us how ad-based video works. Facebook and YouTube continue to define the user-generated content model. And Google Play and iTunes exemplify the transactional video on demand model. What they all share is a user experience that is sleek, simple and simply works. However, as anyone in software knows only too well, things that “simply work” are rarely simple.
In addition to an explosion in OTT services, the ways that people consume media has proliferated. Streaming via mobile device is huge (and growing) and it’s now commonplace to binge-watch your favorite shows while out and about, on your tablet or smartphone. Not only that, but multiple users can each be using the account on different devices. With studies suggesting it only takes a few seconds of poor user experience to make subscribers switch off – and, even worse, switch providers entirely – OTT testing and delivery is becoming a ‘make or break’ concern. Making matters even more complex is the fact that there are exponentially more items that need to be tested, from hardware testing and playback technology testing, billing system integration for upselling of content, to real-time performance monitoring and functionality UX testing across many channels.
Personalization is another key trend in this space and also presents challenges for entertainment companies. Virtually all marketers agree that personalization works, which means the pressure is on the QA team to ensure testing of features based on demographics or viewing history by simulating personalized scenarios.
Wait, is there a pause button?
With so many different scenarios to take into consideration, companies in media and entertainment often turn to us for advice on what the main testing pitfalls are, and of course, how to avoid them. While most testers will take care of the basics, like vital player functions such as play, pause and stop (etc), that’s really only the start when it comes to creating and maintaining superior OTT customer experience. Let’s take a look at the top six OTT testing considerations:
Streaming in all scenarios
– Video streaming after the internet re-connects.
– Audio, video and closed captions should be in sync.
– Buffering of video with forward and rewind features.
– Live video should be in sync on multiple platforms.
– Different permission-based restrictions need to be consistently enforced.
– The consumer’s plan needs to match performance – taking into consideration when content streaming is restricted by device, location, or connection.
Think like a designer
– Focus on AppUI.
– Awesome UX – apps should have minimalistic feature sets with minimum user steps and text should be readable from a specified distance.
– Customization – how is content for personalization settings displayed while also accounting for different users with different settings.
– Manual testing should be complemented to consider factors which cannot be automated (software update testing, screen size, distance between user and screen, its impact on visual rendering, image size and placement of elements).
How does it perform in the wild?
– Low and no network scenarios can lead to app freezing, abrupt exit, distorted content, functional issues or DB corruption.
– Limiting a change in experience when switching between Wi-Fi and Carrier connections.
– HD is on the rise and it’s becoming the norm even on mobile devices while 4K is abundant option for household screens. Apps can behave differently depending on device, make and resolution.
Are you ready to support your customers?
– Whether you like it or not – new customers will have questions and will certainly call you. Have you tested your support systems to ensure when OTT customers call, that your team has all the information to react in a positive way to really help the customer?
Don’t ignore the small print
– Compliance testing for platform store guidelines may not feature as your first consideration, but it is very important from both developer and tester perspectives.
– Reduce chances of rejection during review.
OTT device compliance certification
– Device manufacturers are releasing at least one new device or update a quarter within their existing offerings. This means you need to develop a set of tests that you can execute that ensure a new device or update is in compliance with your business criteria.
– Limitations – it is not possible to test under real world CPU, memory and network conditions.
– Emulators are not as effective when testing design and layout.
Press play for agility and quality
At Apexon, we’ve got 1,000+ mobility experts, two virtual labs with 3,000+ actual devices, and access to pre-market devices. If you’re planning on launching an OTT offering and need it to work right, the first time, contact us below to ensure your success.