Video viewing is not the same anymore – With the explosion of OTT video, television, media and entertainment companies are looking at a changing format of content consumption that is fuelled by increasing mobile adoption and the easy availability of high-speed internet. While at one time, the domain of live streaming and OTT was dominated by Netflix, the story is changing at a rapid pace. Among others, Amazon Prime is aggressively building its video content platform. In a bid to grab market share, Amazon is betting big on live streaming of major sporting events. They have been in talks with leagues such as NBA, MLB, and the NFL to attract the sports audience.
The OTT Video Explosion – a snapshot
The growth of OTT video and live streaming can be credited to the growing popularity of services such as Netflix and Hulu. Netflix launched its streaming services back in 2007. While there were some technical issues and licensing challenges that the service provider had to face in the initial days, Netflix leveraged the ‘law of first’ in the market and gradually cemented its position as one of the biggest OTT content providers. While live streaming and OTT was dismissed in its initial days since video streaming was considered too hard, today almost everyone, including HBO, Showtime, and CBS amongst others, wants to climb on the OTT bandwagon. Pew Research Centre discovered that approximately 24% of American adults do not use cable or satellite television and two-thirds of these non-subscribers cite over-the-top content from services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu as the reason. If we take the Rio Olympics as an example, it is interesting to note that in the U.S, despite the time zone advantage, primetime consumption of the Rio events was significantly lower than the London Olympics. What is even more interesting to note is that while prime time consumption was lower, streaming numbers were significantly higher. NBC’s Olympic digital platform recorded 155 million live streaming minutes on the first Saturday of the competition. This was 263% higher than the London Olympics in 2012.
According to a report by Ooyala, we can expect to see more than $35.4 billion in new revenue by 2021, from mature and emerging OTT markets across the globe. This will bring the OTT market to “$64.78 billion, up 120% from $29.4 billion in 2015.” Research conducted by DTVR’s Global OTT TV & Video Forecasts report suggests, “While revenues in Latin America will triple and Sub-Sahara Africa will see revenues grow a whopping 2,023%, APAC will see the largest amount of new revenue between 2015 and 2021, adding $12.65 billion to the market, with North America adding $9 billion and Western Europe $8.25 billion”. SVOD (Subscription video on demand) revenues are expected to increase from $89 million in 2010 to $11.1 billion in 2015 and onto $25.7 billion in 2021 contributing to 40% of the total OTT revenue in 2021. Simon Murry, principal analyst at Digital TV Research credits the surge of OTT TV streaming to Netflix. He says, “SVOD has developed even faster than we expected in our last edition a year ago,” he said. “Some of this growth was spurred by Netflix’s aim to establish operations in 200 countries by end-2016. Not only has the launch of Netflix boosted each market, but the anticipation of its launch has galvanized local players into action – creating a whirlwind of promotional activity.”
With increasing adoption of Connected TV such as streaming devices like Roku, web-enabled TV sets, and Apple TV, gaming consoles and televisions connected to the web via laptops etc. , eMarketer estimates “191.4 million U.S. Internet users will “access the Internet via a connected TV device by 2018”.
The testing challenges in such a rapidly growing market
Assuming that OTT Video is now in high-growth mode, what are the challenges? Cisco’s Visual Networking Index report forecasts that “video traffic to consume roughly 80-90% of global consumer internet traffic by 2018; and as video files streamed in HD move towards 4K, the pressure faced by operator networks will only intensify further.”
When it comes to OTT and video streaming applications, a seamless viewing experience is imperative. Given that these applications have a huge number of concurrent users from multiple geographical locations focusing on application performance is critical. When it comes to testing these applications here are a few things to focus on:
Performance Testing – Having a strong performance test strategy and test plan is the key to success. Testers have to keep in mind evolving key user scenarios and design the performance scripts and load models accordingly. It is also essential to generate insightful reports after each test execution cycle to understand load impacts and performance glitches.
Load Testing – Testers have to ensure that the load impact tool employed for load testing can handle a large number of TCP connections that are generated from each load engine. It, therefore, becomes the responsibility of the tester to assess if the load engines in use are adequate to manage these connections and deliver high-quality content or if additional load engines are required to manage these connections
Device Testing – Testers also have to bear in mind that OTT content can be consumed via different devices. Thus it becomes imperative to test the video service across these various devices such as gaming consoles, smartphones, tablets etc., either by testing on the device itself or by using simulators, and ensure that videos display correctly across them.
With the explosion of 4G and 5G services, the consumption of OTT content is only going to rise. In order to deliver a quality experience, testers need to tweak their testing strategies and re-evaluate testing priorities to ensure that they can hold their viewers’ attention and interest. That’s our view!