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Ten minutes to master OTT testing

OTT testing targets Over-The-Top (OTT) apps/streaming services that deliver media content exclusively via the Internet, bypassing traditional distribution channels. Some superstars? Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, Crunchyroll, Disney+, Showtime, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video. 

Due to the inherent complexity of their systems, streaming services are prone to experiencing software bugs that can disrupt the user experience. Streaming fails can happen with millions of concurrent users globally and often make headlines. 

As the “streaming wars” get increasingly competitive, technical mishaps spoil the user experience, tarnish a hard-earned reputation, and drive customers towards competing services. As an OTT provider, how can you ensure your users get the seamless experience they deserve? Invest in OTT testing — it’s the only way to guarantee that your streaming media is delivered reliably.

Join us for this comprehensive rundown of OTT testing and explore why it is crucial for media and entertainment companies. Whether you’re a content provider, distributor, or advertiser, understanding OTT testing is essential for delivering exceptional viewer experiences. Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

What is OTT testing?

OTT testing is the process of testing video and audio streaming services delivered over the Internet. The most critical aspects of OTT quality assurance include functional, performance, and compatibility testing. 

  • Functional Testing: tests the various components of the streaming app to ensure they work as intended. This includes testing the UI, video player, encoding, streaming, and delivery.
  • Performance Testing: tests the streaming app under high traffic levels to ensure it can handle the load without crashing or slowing down.
  • Compatibility Testing: tests the streaming app on various devices and operating systems to ensure compatibility with multiple devices.

Testing managers must plan the testing parameters, including video and device types, the number and location of testers, and practice before the live event. During the simulated test, testers must use a common language, test key device types, and collaborate effectively via a live war room. 

Quality issues, in-app marketing messages, user account credentials, localization, device responsiveness, and payment funnels should also be tested. By identifying and fixing technical issues before they become a problem, OTT app testing helps to ensure that the streaming service is always available to viewers.

Types of OTT Programming

  • Subscription Video-on-Demand (SVOD) Services: These platforms offer a subscription-based model, granting users access to a content library for a recurring fee.
  • Advertising-based Video-on-Demand (AVOD) Services: In AVOD services, users can access content for free, supported by advertisements displayed during playback.
  • Ad and Non-Advertising Supported Services: Some OTT platforms offer ad-supported and non-ad-supported options, allowing users to enjoy content with or without interruptions.
  • Free Video-on-Demand (VOD): These services allow users to access content without subscription or payment, relying on advertising revenue as their primary monetization method.
  • Transactional Video-on-Demand (TVOD): TVOD services enable users to rent or purchase individual content on a pay-per-view basis.

Remember which model(s) you’ll focus on to tailor your testing approaches to ensure optimal performance, monetization, and user experience.

Leading OTT Devices

OTT content can be accessed through various devices that provide seamless streaming experiences. These devices include streaming boxes, DVRs, set-top boxes, streaming sticks, and smart TVs. Here are some of the leading OTT devices in the market:

Chart showing the leading OTT devices

Effective OTT testing requires managing and ensuring these popular devices’ compatibility, performance, and user experience to reach a broader audience and deliver a consistent streaming experience.

The Benefits of OTT Testing

Effective OTT testing is crucial. Not doing it is a non-starter, but if you prefer to focus on the benefits, there are several advantages to a great testing strategy:

Enhanced Viewer Experience: By conducting rigorous Testing, you can ensure a seamless and high-quality viewing experience, improving customer satisfaction and retention.

Content Integrity: OTT testing helps validate content integrity, ensuring accurate playback, proper formatting, and reliable delivery across different devices and platforms.

Platform Compatibility: Testing on various devices and platforms ensures compatibility, making content accessible to a broader audience.

Performance Optimization: Through Testing, performance issues such as buffering, latency, and video quality can be identified and resolved, delivering smooth and uninterrupted streaming.

Quality Assurance: OTT testing helps identify and address bugs, errors, and usability issues, ensuring the overall quality and reliability of the streaming service.

This is to say that proper OTT testing is the path to a robust and enjoyable streaming experience for viewers and the key to staying competitive in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

Types of OTT Testing Coverage

To ensure comprehensive OTT testing, there are a few crucial areas you need to cover:

Compatibility Testing evaluates the compatibility of your OTT platform across various devices, operating systems, and browsers to ensure consistent performance and user experience.

Browser Testing verifies your platform’s compatibility and functionality across different web browsers to ensure seamless performance.

By incorporating these critical types of OTT testing coverage, you can ensure your OTT platform’s reliability, compatibility, and performance, delivering an exceptional streaming experience to your viewers.

How to Perform OTT Testing

Effective OTT testing requires a structured approach to ensure comprehensive coverage. Here are the key OTT testing steps:

Test Environment Setup: Establish a test environment that closely resembles the production environment, including hardware, software, and network configurations.

Test Case Creation: Develop test cases that cover various aspects of the OTT platform, including functionality, user interface, performance, and compatibility.

Ramy Loaiza, Manager of Testing Delivery in M&E at Testlio, highlights practical use cases that will revolutionize your approach to OTT testing.

Bug Reporting and Tracking: Document and report any identified issues, track their resolution progress, and retest after fixes to ensure the platform’s stability and functionality.

Staffing for OTT Testing

You have three basic options: outsourced, crowdsourced, or in-house teams.

With outsourced Testing, you partner with external agencies or vendors specializing in OTT testing. This lets you leverage the expertise and resources of dedicated testing professionals.

Crowdsourced testing platforms offer access to a diverse pool of on-demand testers who can provide real-world Testing on different devices and platforms, ensuring comprehensive coverage.

Establishing an in-house testing team will give you greater control and flexibility over the testing process. You can hire dedicated testers and align them closely with the development team for seamless collaboration.

Which approach is best for you depends on factors like budget, project requirements, timeline, and desired level of control.

Generative AI and Automation

Nowadays, Generative AI and automation play a vital role in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of OTT testing. Leveraging generative AI can significantly reduce the time spent writing test cases and refactoring outdated ones. AI algorithms can generate concise instructions, mitigating the risk of errors and improving overall testing productivity.

Automation tools enable the execution of pre-defined test scripts, allowing for faster and more accurate Testing. Automated Testing helps increase test coverage, identify issues early in the development cycle, and streamline repetitive tasks. Combining generative AI with automation can empower you to drastically improve testing efficiencies, time-to-market, and test quality in the rapidly evolving OTT landscape.

Leveraging generative AI cuts up to 30% of the time writing new test cases and refactoring outdated test cases. Testers receive more concise instructions mitigating the risk of error. Generative AI also streamlines the process of issue capture and creates more accurate, detailed, and precise descriptions of identified issues.

Can you deliver the perfect stream?

Delivering a flawless streaming experience is absolutely essential for OTT providers. To achieve this, several factors need to be considered and addressed:

Content Integrity: Ensure the content is delivered accurately, without glitches or interruptions, to maintain a seamless viewing experience.

Performance Optimization: Optimize streaming performance by monitoring and optimizing buffering, latency, and interactive features to minimize disruptions.

Device and Platform Compatibility: Test on various devices and platforms to ensure compatibility and consistent performance across different viewing environments.

Localization Testing: Verify that the OTT service functions correctly and delivers a consistent user experience across different languages and cultural settings.

Addressing these concerns with robust testing strategies means you can deliver the perfect streaming experience.

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OTT Data and Analytics

User Engagement: Analyze user behavior, viewership patterns, and engagement metrics to understand audience preferences and tailor content recommendations.

Performance Metrics: Track streaming quality, buffering rates, startup time, and other performance indicators to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted viewing experience.

Advertising Effectiveness: Evaluate ad impressions, click-through rates, and conversion metrics to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and optimize monetization strategies.

By leveraging data and analytics, you gain the insight you need to enhance user experiences, drive engagement, and maximize revenue.

The Future of QA in Media and Entertainment

The demand for live streams is growing exponentially as smartphone proliferation increases, internet connectivity improves, and live viewing of significant events and sports games is normalized. 

OTT providers are experimenting with different pricing models, including ad-supported pricing, which has created a new wave of “tiered” user experiences. This coincides with an uptick in negotiating contractual rights for region-locked content and time-bound exclusives. In-app advertising will also necessitate more personalized experiences as advertisers demand a perfect match between served ads and user preferences.

Additional Resources