OTT Testing Challenges and How to Overcome Them
By Kitakabee, Community Contributor - August 17, 2022
Since the release of the first television in 1927, the way users consume video content has changed drastically. OTT (Over-The-Top) media platforms are one of the newest means for video content.
OTT refers to delivering video and audio content through streaming services over the internet. One can use the OTT platform on any internet-enabled device. It gives consumers the option to decide what and when they want to watch. Some popular active OTT services are Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Disney, Hulu, and many more. OTT is an acronym for Over-The-Top.
While it offers great benefits to the users, there is a significant challenge in testing these platforms. These platforms are accessed across devices – from smart TV to mobile phones. How can one ensure that the functionalities remain the same irrespective of the device that it is accessed from? Read this article to learn about OTT testing, OTT device & video testing, the challenges related to OTT testing, and how to overcome them.
Importance of OTT Testing
OTT testing refers to testing the video, data, voice, and capabilities of the OTT app available on the internet. It tests to ensure customer experience, network speed, security, and connectivity. Lots of application components, networks, and infrastructure setups are linked together to provide an effective OTT service.
Hence, it is recommended to test the whole service along with the relevant components for a comprehensive evaluation. One must test for:
- Device/Browser Compatibility
- Functionalities and features of the app
- Better user interface and workability
- A diverse selection of content
- Personalized suggestions and recommendations for content
The OTT platform must be thoroughly tested to ensure an excellent user experience and deliver good quality video streaming services. It must be tested for:
- Consistent Delivery: The platform’s user experience highly depends on the stable delivery of content.
- Playback Quality: The content should not take much time to stream.
- Compatibility: It is also essential for OTT to be compatible with various devices to ensure the best possible user experience. It should also be tested in landscape and portrait modes.
- Multiple user accounts: OTT platforms are generally used by more than one person on different devices for a single subscription. The OTT platform must enable the users to set up multiple individual accounts with personalized watchlists and recommendations.
- Offline content: There are instances where the users are unable to view the content on an OTT platform because of poor network connection. Many OTT platforms allow their users to download their content and watch it offline later. In case there is also a mobile app, one can test their apps in offline mode.
- Smart recommendations: The OTT platform must be able to monitor the history of the user’s watchlist, analyze the data points and offer relevant recommendations for new content.
Testing on Smart TV
According to a recent study, people use mobile phones and smart TVs the most to view video content. Smart TV and mobile phones have seen an increase of 34% and 22% respectively.
Globally, the viewing time has increased by 10% in the first quarter of 2022 over 2021 and 77% of the viewing time is captured by big screens. Therefore, it is important to test Smart TV applications due to multiple reasons, such as
- Features and functionalities: Testing smart TV apps are essential to review the quality of the application in terms of features and functionalities.
- Efficient interaction: Testing is also necessary to check if the application’s interaction with the TV ecosystem is efficient.
- Proper indexation and accessibility: To ensure that OTT platforms’ content is appropriately indexed and accessible.
- Improve Customer Experience: This involves checking how the application adapts to the larger resolution. Misaligned/low-quality streaming leads to retention and poor customer experience.
- Reduce Time to Market: Faster OTT testing enables you to deploy faster.
- Improve Engineering Productivity: OTT testing enables the developers to emphasize critical tasks. They are able to reclaim the time spent on slow manual testing and resolving the test infrastructure.
Challenges in OTT Testing
Streaming has emerged as an essential aspect of content distribution methods. Currently, most users consume content through streaming rather than other modes such as satellite TV, rentals, etc. Hence, providing the best quality services to the users becomes essential. And to deliver a seamless experience, testing plays a significant role. OTT testing ensures that every feature of the product works without any errors or external disturbances.
During OTT testing, testers must consider many factors like network, browser compatibility, device specifications, hardware, latency, buffering time, etc. An error even in any one of the components leads to malfunctioning of the entire system; this makes the testers face some significant challenges in OTT testing.
Listed below are some of the common challenges faced by testers while testing an OTT platform:
- Response Time in different networks: Internet speed is crucial to OTT services. If the data transfer rate is not high, the content can take much time to buffer. Due to slow loading content, users might tend to stop using the product and switch to some other brands. Hence, it is essential to test the performance of the OTT platform with different network speeds.
- Cross Device Issues: OTT platforms are designed to work on any internet-enabled device like computers, smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, etc. OTT testing on all devices poses a significant challenge because the testing team might not have access to all devices.
- Cross Browser Issues: OTT applications can also be accessed from a browser. It is critical to perform cross browser testing on OTT applications to ensure their compatibility across a range of browsers. But testing the OTT applications on a range of browsers with multiple versions can be a difficult task.
- Issues caused by user interaction: The users of the OTT application might not be technically sound to understand all the underlying problems in the application. For example, Issues due to network speed might lead to negative feedback from customers who do not understand the reason behind the issue. The testers need to test all these scenarios and introduce solutions that inform the customers about the problems in layman’s terms.
- Traffic Overloads: It is not uncommon to experience glitches due to traffic overload because of popular events and streaming shows. But this can result in negative feedback. The assumption of the maximum consumer count for popular content is a challenging process.
Ways to Overcome OTT Testing Challenges
In this section, let’s discuss some solutions to overcome the challenges mentioned above:
1. Automated Testing: OTT Test Automation is one of the most effective solutions to tackle most of the QA issues. It can help in the following ways:
- Maximising the test coverage.
- Cross browser and cross device testing.
- Scale the complete testing process without the need for more testers in the team.
- Debug the OTT apps faster than manual testing and help in the faster release of new products or updates of existing products.
2. Network Testing: It is essential to test the performance of OTT streaming services in areas with slow network connectivity, network latency, high bandwidth, and other distinct network conditions. This ensures that the OTT platform works efficiently in all network conditions.
3. Cross Device Testing: The OTT platform should be tested in various devices with varying operating systems, screen sizes, resolutions, etc., to ensure that the services are rendered in all these devices as expected.
4. Cross Browser Testing: The OTT platform should also be tested on various browsers with different browser versions to ensure that the services are rendered effectively on all the browsers. Get instant access to test on 3000+ browsers and devices, Try for Free.
5. Load Testing: The OTT testers need to test the limit of traffic load that the OTT platform can bear. This is done to ensure that the OTT platform does not crash in the event of a high traffic load. It mainly helps monitor the software system’s response time and stability as the number of users of the application increases.
6. Functional Testing: Functional testing is a kind of software testing that verifies that all the features and functionalities of the software are working as intended. There are many types of functional testing like unit testing, usability testing, sanity testing, etc. The functional tests are generally carried out using the following steps:
- Fixate on which feature or functionality you want to test.
- Create input data for the selected functionality
- Think of acceptable results that indicate the success or failure of the test
- Execute the test cases
- Compare the actual results of the test with the predecided results.
7. UI/UX Testing: The testing team must perform UI/UX testing to ensure layout consistency and seamless navigation. It is done mainly to ensure that the user interface is stable and straightforward.
8. Performance Testing: The OTT platform needs to be tested for all kinds of glitches associated with the platform. For example, Crashing of the application, non-responsiveness of the application, etc.
9. Streaming Testing: OTT Streaming testing must be conducted to check for indicators like error rate, start time, buffer time, bit rate, etc.
10. Security Testing: The OTT platform uses the user’s personal information like name, address, bank details, etc., to create an account. It is essential to test the OTT platform for data security.
11. Geolocation Testing: The OTT platform renders different services according to the popular demand across different countries. The testing team must verify the cultural appropriateness, linguistic accuracy, payment currencies, etc., across countries.
12. Integration Testing: Sometimes, an app requires multiple external functional modules to work efficiently. Integration testing is conducted to make sure that individual functional modules work as expected when working together.
Currently, streaming content is one of the predominant methods of consuming content. BrowserStack offers a suite of products that support automated testing using frameworks like Selenium, Cypress, Playwright, Puppeteer, Appium, Espresso, and XCUI tests. You can perform cross browser testing, cross device testing across more than 3000 devices, etc. You can also test on smart TV using BrowserStack.