The significant improvement in usable bandwidth provided by ISP and CSPs today, coupled with the enhanced visual capabilities of mobile devices, are contributing to the humungous growth in the consumption of video-on-demand or OTT (over the top) content.
OTT refers to the practice of delivering media over the internet, bypassing traditional telecom infrastructure such as cable, broadband, and satellite platforms to provide services to the end-user.
According to a report Allied Market Research, the global OTT market size was valued at $97.43 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $332.52 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 16.7% from 2018 to 2025.
Today, with many service providers in the ecosystem delivering a high quality of user experience, streaming consistencyseamless delivery of content is critical. However, a wide range of OTT devices used to access the available content is becoming a challenge to the OTT service providers. It has, thus, become essential to test an OTT service before layout to ensure multi-platform support and other important OTT service parameters.
The testing of OTT media services applications with the associated network components is calledOTT testing.
A large number of networks, application components, and infrastructure setup are coupled together to deliver a seamless OTT service. Therefore, a good Quality Assurance strategy includes testing the entire service along with associated components for a more in-depth analysis of their performance in different conditions. Let us look at some of these components.
One of the crucial KPIs of a robust OTT service is delivering seamless user experience. Imagine if a user tries to view a live match or a video clip, and it keeps stalling, or spinner keeps on showing forever! In such a situation, with the plethora of OTT services available to the user at the click of a button, the risk of losing business is higher than ever.
It should be, thus, the prerogative of all service providers that the complete OTT Testing process is focussed on one ultimate goal- Amazing User Experience.
Some of the primary focus areas to be considered while devising a comprehensiveOTT testingstrategy are:
- UI/UX Testing: The market is swarmed with several devices, both hand-held and otherwise. It is thus essential for the OTT service providers to ensure that the application experience is similar on all the devices. In order to provide a consistent experience across multiple devices, the UI/UX design should highly flexible to accommodate a wide variety of devices. Along with ensuring that the functional application flows are coherent, it is also vital to build a simple and intuitive UI/UX design for the end-user to comprehend and navigate through the controls quickly. Therefore, a good UI/UX design and its verification is a critical component to ensure that the OTT service delivers a smooth user experience.
- OTT plan/subscription Tests: There are several useful and challenging features (for design and development teams), which a test designer should envision to verify. Some of the scenarios could be: Does the OTT Subscription support login-in on multiple devices or just one device at a time, or does the subscription support only HD channels or UHD or SD. These scenarios are a vicious combination of plans and subscription entitlements, which, if left untested, could lead to customer dissatisfaction if given less than the entitlement or revenue loss for the OTT service provider if given more.
- Stream Testing: The content delivered through the platform should be as robust as possible. If the service uses Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR), then network conditions should be varied to test the performance of the stream selection algorithm.
- Interoperability: Cross-Browser/Cross-Platform/Cross-Device tests must be performed to ensure the consistent user experience across a multitude of devices (say, a hand-held mobile or a Smart TV).
- Security: Some of the OTT services today also extend payment facilities to the customer. These services involve sensitive data such as bank account details, personalized content watching habits, and other personal details. Thus, user data security is of paramount importance while releasing an OTT product.
- User Experience: A set of various metrics intuitively developed over a period that can quantitatively measure user experienceQoE (Quality of Experience), much like MOS in the conventional voice services, is an example of an exhaustive experience mechanism.
- Network Testing: Service Behaviour should be simulated in various conditions such as low bandwidth, high bandwidth, lossy networks, and other network conditions. Network Condition Simulatorin the lab which can mimic the real environments is a handy tool in this type of testing.
- Performance Testing: It is essential to perform Load Testing over OTT network servers to understand the performance of OTT service under millions of stream requests from around the globe at once.
OTT Video is already seeing exponential growth, and with the proliferation of high bandwidth networks such as 5G, the consumption of video on demand would only grow. It has become essential for service providers today to ensure automated processes for OTT Testing to cope with device fragmentation and development. OTT Testing is now seen as integral to DevOps methods, where design, development, operations, and testing are integrated around smaller components, which can be deployed rapidly without disrupting the overlying service.