The OTT services industry is thriving, with a global market that is expected to reach $179.9 billion by 2025. However, the upward trajectory also leads to increased competition among providers and consumer expectations are rising. Now that there is a proliferation of options to choose from, users are becoming increasingly intolerant of services that don’t run smoothly. Issues such as repeated playback errors, stalling, and rebuffering, or services that feature a lacking User Interface (UI), are quickly abandoned. So how do OTT providers balance quality with development costs and the necessary speed to market, in order to deliver a viable service?
OTT Quality Control
According to a recent report from Capgemini and Sogeti, 85% of executive management teams across the media industry believe that quality of service contributes to business growth and improved outcomes. It is also believed to have a significant impact on protecting corporate and brand image.
A user’s interaction with the invisible technology behind the content is key to their perception of a high-quality service. To ensure great UI and backend functionality, robust testing must be a key focus of any OTT development plan. However, providers don’t want to depend on time-consuming manual testing cycles prior to launch, and continuous manual monitoring of the service once it’s live. This represents a huge drain on development resources, especially for those looking to reduce the cost of ownership over a service lifecycle.
Test automation uses separate software to compare actual outcomes with predicted ones. To deliver a successful service there are three main areas of automated testing that providers should focus on.
- User Interface (UI) testing – A testing framework that observes changes in the UI, in order to ensure that visual functionality is working correctly. This testing rapidly identifies regression issues and validates important user interactions.
- API driven testing – A testing framework that bypasses the UI, to identify changes to service layer integration points and responses. This testing validates the overall behavior of the service under test conditions.
- Unit and component testing – Verifies the integrity of the underlying code.
Leveraging Automated Solutions
In order to achieve the desired level of quality, while ensuring that development remains cost-effective, OTT providers need to reduce the time to market and improve the quality of their apps as quickly as possible. Naturally, there is an increased demand for automated testing.
There is a common misconception that OTT providers can implement an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution, but test automation comes with complexities that can challenge even the most experienced in-house teams. A recent report found that 46% of companies think it’s hard to recruit people with the skills needed for automation projects. Without the specialist tech skills in place to ensure adequate test coverage, manage a wide range of tooling, or improve poor automation rates, vital speed to market can be lost and providers risk high churn from frustrated users.
Testing and automation must be embedded within the end-to-end delivery process and take different platforms and frameworks into account. Even after a service has launched, providers must constantly innovate and release improved versions to maintain their subscriber’s engagement and loyalty. All these deployments will require ongoing testing and technology support.
It’s important that OTT providers adopt a calculated approach to testing. Test automation should consider the entire video ecosystem, and teams working on testing should have a solid technical skill set covering APIs, backend, and frontend systems. Compliance expertise is also vital, in order to check for issues that are device-specific as well as automating across multiple platforms on all associated devices.
There are a number of different tools on the market so it’s important to take a video-centric approach, considering big screen automation as well as mobile platforms. There are several important considerations when choosing an automation platform, these include:
- Strategy – What’s your engagement model?
- Updates – How frequently will you make new deployments to market?
- Lifecycle – What does your roadmap look like?
- Testing Type – Real devices vs. virtual testing emulators.
If you’d like to know more about how to balance near-term investment with long-term gain, monitor customer usage effectively, and manage future scalability Accedo can help. Find out more about how we support OTT providers with deep technical knowledge, advanced programming skills, and years of automation expertise here.