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Keeping Pace with the Marathon of Device Fragmentation - Is There an Easier Way?

Alex Wilkinson

Head of Sales & Marketing E&L

May 23, 2024

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Managing a multi-screen device roadmap is challenging for most OTT service providers. Not only do they need to maintain their apps across different platforms, each with its own set of requirements and features, but also constantly keep a tab on updates and new developments from OEMs. Device manufacturers release an increasing number of new devices each year, and with the average lifespan of a TV being around five years, service providers also need to support a wide array of older devices. These challenges are affecting various stakeholders, including QA engineers, product owners, and service managers across video organizations. 

This blog post recommends the activities and strategies in supporting, testing and certifying the diverse range of devices, which multi-screen OTT streaming services can employ to address these pain points without straining their resources.

Handling OTT device fragmentation and matching new releases is complex and costly, but you can’t afford not to.

Supporting more devices expands the viewer base and increases ad views for streaming services. But the operational complexity and cost of maintaining compatibility with an ever-growing list of devices can be overwhelming and is often crippling both small and mid-sized video businesses.

Additionally, being quick to respond to new technology and system updates is crucial in the fast-paced OTT market. Unfortunately, there is a concerning trend of lagging responsiveness among OTT service providers. Broadcaster-support releases and regression testing are similar to connected TV operations, where delays can have major impacts. Maintaining device updates and integrations across the service is a slow, time-consuming task that can significantly affect service quality. For example, fixing a live bug on 14 different devices can take many weeks when you add in regression and the coordination of release cycles. During this time, users may face poor experiences, leading to dissatisfaction and customer churn. 

The combined impact of slow updates and poor responsiveness highlights the urgent need for better solutions. To stay competitive and keep customers happy, OTT platforms must find effective ways to manage device updates efficiently.

How do you ensure consistency and long-term success of your multi-screen OTT streaming apps?

The need for ongoing maintenance, vigilant monitoring of backend changes, and timely release of updates or fixes are all crucial elements that ensure your app remains functional and competitive. 

Below are some key recommendations to effectively manage these challenges:

Post-launch standing team:
OTT app development doesn’t conclude upon initial release; it marks the beginning of a product life cycle. We therefore recommend keeping a dedicated team for ongoing maintenance, feature updates, and bug fixes. This team needs to ensure the app evolves with technological advancements and user expectations, while allowing for new features and functionalities to be released periodically, along with updated versions to include minor bug fixes.

Regular testing:
Consider automation testing of your app across different devices—be it Smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, desktops or any other CTV devices —to ensure compatibility and performance. While it won’t cover every test case, it can handle the vast majority, used as a safeguard and boosting quality.

Responsive support team:
Establish a support team to quickly address any production issues that arise. Even after rigorous testing, having a responsive support function ready to address production issues is indispensable.

App configuration management system:
Implement a system that allows for easy modifications to the app’s appearance and user experience without necessitating code changes. This approach facilitates quicker deployments and reduces certification delays, which can be particularly beneficial given the variability in manufacturer certification processes.

Proactive certification management:
Releasing updates or fixes for your app often involves revisiting the different  manufacturers’ certification processes, ensuring that you plan your update releases accordingly to avoid delays. While some manufacturers expedite certification for previously published apps, others require a full process every time.

User feedback integration:
Regularly gather and integrate user feedback to continuously improve the app and address any issues promptly. This ensures that your app meets user expectations and adapts to their needs.

It may be worth considering OTT outsourcing for cost and efficiency gains.

There's no avoiding the challenges of device fragmentation and constant device updates. Given the complexity and enormous expenses of maintaining a timely device update roadmap, it is understandably more and more difficult for OTT companies to handle all of the tasks in-house. Therefore, one way to mitigate the financial and operational burden is by leveraging economies of scale through outsourcing to a managed services provider. 

Managed services from expert video streaming technology vendors can spread the costs of infrastructure, expertise, and development across multiple clients, significantly reducing the financial burden on individual businesses. As a result, video businesses can cut costs, as they benefit from the shared resources and specialized knowledge that these providers offer. This approach allows companies to focus on their core activities while ensuring efficient and cost-effective management of device updates and maintenance.

Employing a managed services solution can also provide strategic advantages. Professional video service providers specialize in maintaining and updating software across a wide range of devices, using their expertise and infrastructure to ensure timely and effective updates, allowing for faster response times to new releases and potential issues. Additionally, managed services can offer scalable solutions that grow with the business, accommodating increasing numbers of devices without a proportional increase in costs. Such strategic partnership can enhance overall operational efficiency, reduce downtime, and improve customer satisfaction by maintaining a seamless user experience across all supported devices.

In conclusion, the challenges of managing a multi-screen device roadmap and reacting quickly to technological advancements are substantial for OTT service providers. Outsourcing these tasks can provide significant benefits, including cost efficiency, expert handling, scalability, and improved responsiveness. Leveraging managed services offerings from industry experts in streaming like Accedo, OTT providers can focus more on their core business and strategic initiatives, ensuring they remain competitive in a rapidly evolving market.

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