Addressing Video Stream Trends with OTT Testing
OTT Statistics Grow the Need for Testing
The conversation around OTT video streaming gained momentum in 2020 as the pandemic forced the world to work, teach, and entertain at home. Today, over half of the United States is vaccinated (with at least one dose), and the nation is starting to open up.
Given the relief and hope for a normal existence outside of our homes, it might be surprising that growth in the OTT segment continues. While the trends shown below capture a growing number of users, they also reflect a rising demand for better OTT testing (also known as over-the-top testing) to ensure a seamless experience for a broadening user base.
- Revenue in the OTT Video segment is projected to reach $60 billion in 2021.
- Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2021-2025) of 9.05%, resulting in a projected market volume of $86 billion by 2025.
- User penetration will be 83.7% in 2021 and is expected to hit 88.1% by 2025.
- The largest segment is Video Streaming (SVoD) with a market volume of $32 billion in 2021.
- In global comparison, most revenue will be generated in the United States ($61 billion in 2021).
The numbers, in a large part, reflect the success of three companies. According to eMarketer.com Netflix, Disney, and YouTube will collectively receive 69.3% of all US OTT subscription revenues in 2021.
In 2021, just under a third (30.8%) of all US OTT subscription revenues will go to Netflix. Disney will account for about one-fourth (25.9%) of OTT subscription revenues in the US, and YouTube will account for 13.2%.
Almost 70% of all streaming users depend on three companies for a seamless video experience and explains why these companies rely on consistent and comprehensive OTT testing. User experience is everything to their success and OTT testing helps them to get ahead of potential errors and devastating failures.
OTT Streaming Failures are Lessons for Everyone
Disney experienced first-hand how critical OTT testing is to the success of its platform. After making a huge investment and taking an even bigger risk, the company decided to move away from licensing their movies to Netflix (hundreds of millions in revenue) and build their own streaming service. In November of 2019, the launch of Disney Plus was far from seamless with high demand causing outages, login failures, and inability to stream altogether.
Turns out, the Disney Plus problems are not related to the video-streaming infrastructure. The problem was rooted in the authentication systems, which handle the process of verifying users as valid subscribers with Disney’s apps and third-party devices. But not everyone saw it as a disaster.
The launch glitches are not a disaster – more of a “mild disruption of service,” said Theo Schlossnagle, CTO and founder of Circonus, whose platform provides real-time infrastructure services monitoring for customers including Major League Baseball. “These flash storms of new users are very, very rare. And it’s hard to get that right the first time.” — Variety Magazine
Many have suggested that too many people were compelled to the service by a huge advertising campaign.
In the U.S., the media conglomerate spent more than $6 million on national TV ads in the six weeks leading up to launch, including over $1.25 million on spots that ran during NFL games, according to research firm MediaRadar.
Unfortunately, while the marketing campaign was successful, the technology implementation resulted in significant disruptions. And because Disney did not recognize what would become such an overwhelming demand, it seems they also neglected to see how thorough OTT testing could have provided some insight into what was to come.
Fortunately, the issues were addressed within days of the launch and the negative impact has not been devastating. It has, however, been an example for many and validation for better OTT testing strategies. In fact, every OTT streaming failure provides lessons for all which is great because industry trends show signs that could likely pose even more unique problems.
OTT Industry Trends in 2021
Video hosting and live streaming solutions company Dacast has outlined the top trends coming in 2021. OTT testing and streaming companies across the nation are gearing up to address any issue that might arise as a result of the ongoing trends.
1. 5G Changing the Game
A 5G network that is 100 times faster than 4G LTE networks will become standard providing much faster, more reliable internet speeds. A faster network will be an advantage for the OTT streaming industry with better video quality and decreased buffering.
2. Immersive Streaming Technology Becomes Widely Available
A 5G bandwidth will enable 4K video streaming and VR (Virtual Reality). The streaming capabilities will allow for 360 live streaming while VR access spreads among consumers and industries who have yet to employ the technology.
3. Media Giants Rule the Premium Market
The premium OTT market is shifting with media giants like Disney, HBO, and NBC stepping up. As OTT streaming services like Apple TV, AT&T, Comcast and increases in streaming services for sports, advertising is becoming more important on these platforms as well. The established media giants who can afford the cost of advertising are making it harder for new services to compete.
4. Subscription Fatigue Encourages Innovation in OTT Monetization
While subscription-based OTT video services are utilized by 60% of adults in the US, subscription services are suffering. Users are compelling providers to offer pay-per-view as an alternative. Some subscription services are bundling networks to entice subscribers. The trends will continue to evolve and shift as the demand requires.
5. COVID-19 Sparks a Quick Change
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, there was a clear spike in OTT usage but it plateaued some weeks later forcing services to shift how they delivered content. Some services release movies early while other pushed content harder knowing they had bigger audiences than ever before. Technologies that emerged during COVID-19 included the ability to watch together and chat about the movies. Not all of the changes will be sustainable but the ability to adapt became critical.
6. CTV Continues to Become More Popular
Connected TV (CTV) refers to streaming on televisions via OTT technology. With audiences at home in front of their televisions, CTV streaming from Amazon’s Firestick, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Play Station, and the Nintendo Switch has gained momentum.
7. User Experience (UX) Becomes Key
With the increase in options from so many services, users can pick and choose. However, it is not just the content they want. The user experience must be seamless and easy or they will move on to an interface that is.
Netflix is worth 10X more than its competitor Hulu for a variety of reasons but one of them is the ease of use and navigation as well as content release strategies so users can binge without waiting for weekly episodes.
OTT Testing to Suit Trends and Technology
Along with the trends, the wide range of OTT devices and services in use today presents an ongoing challenge to any development team. The success of a service or product is measured by the user experience and streaming consistency, so seamless delivery of content is critical.
Software testing companies like QualityLogic make sure your software is ready for the challenge with comprehensive OTT testing. The most important aspect of testing is to identify the defects before your customers do. To that end, we have developed a focused approach as follows:
Experts at translating specifications into functional test cases that exercise all system features.
Validation that video playback is smooth with high image quality, adapts to available bandwidth and recovers from network interruptions.
Extensive Platform Array
Software testing on a large variety of OTT platforms: Android TVs, AppleTV Generations 2/3/4, Roku, FireTV, Xbox360, and more.
Testing from a User’s Perspective
Verification that streaming accessibility, audio track synchronization and separation, and user pause, resume, and seek all function flawlessly.
Along with the focus shown above, QualityLogic generates an extensive range of test cases from functional specs to verify every aspect of the product including:
- Precision verification of the design specification against actual app features
- Generation of a test plan with cases that address every feature against exacting success requirements
- Distribution of tests over a wide range of OS/platform combinations to ensure functionality is verified in the software and at the system level
- Immediate reporting of test results through your test management and defect tracking system
- Working defect regression directly with your engineering team
To keep up with the evolution of technology and speed to market, companies would do well to prioritize the implementation of a robust OTT testing strategy because the future of OTT video streaming is here. Fragmentation in devices combined with the expansion of high-speed bandwidth networks like 5G, will lead to a demand for streaming video in every aspect of B2C and B2B environments. On top of that, an even greater demand for a seamless experience will continue to drive the market.
If you are ready to grow with the future by making sure your OTT testing is doing the same, call us today. With a quick, informal call, we can help you assess your OTT testing options and clear the clutter or quell the chaos for the straightest line to success.