There's been a massive transformational wave across the media industry with the rapid digitalization of technologies and dynamic consumer demands. Disruptive technologies have become a game-changing factor bringing in endless opportunities for media companies to engage users more efficiently and secure the brand reputation in the industry. Media applications such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus, and many more have been extensively used by consumers for video content. The number of Netflix subscribers has increased from less than 22 million in 2011 to nearly 214 million in 2021. With the soaring popularity of streaming apps and other media content delivery channels, it has become imperative for media and entertainment companies to focus on engineering strategies to deploy efficient testing workflows for delivering flawless digital experiences for their users.
The need for omnichannel experiences today
A business might create an impressive presence on multiple channels with valuable content across all the channels, but what about creating a more collaborative experience?
As the types of content, applications, and devices keep increasing in numbers, media companies need to ensure that consumers are engaging seamlessly with the content across multiple platforms. Hence, it isn't the content or the quality of the content itself but the accessibility, usability, and end-user experience rendered by the content across any platform. For instance, Amazon Prime Video has successfully managed to deliver a seamless experience across devices, allowing users to watch the video content on their Smart TV, tablets, phones, or any media device, pause, stop and pick up from where they left off on another device. Such cohesive experience makes it more engaging for the consumers, creating a strong digital brand.
Creating such custom-tailored experiences for users requires quality engineering to execute video streaming tests, media apps, and device tests to ensure that the product development and QA teams can bring about digital transformation across organizations.
The key areas where quality engineering helps media companies transform digitally are:
- AI-powered automation and testing — Understanding and catering to dynamic consumer demands of this age can never be possible without Artificial Intelligence that helps improve testing techniques, provides crucial insights, and fast tracks the entire testing workflow. Modern organizations are deploying AI technologies to ensure efficient decision-making and agile responsiveness to market changes. Further, AI tools are at the cusp of enhanced customer engagement and content personalization, improving brand reputation.
- Regression Intelligence — The demand for OTT apps, video apps, and related has increased exponentially today. At this juncture, ensuring satisfactory performances of these apps is extremely important to retain a brand's customer base. Poor application performances significantly reduce customer satisfaction and cause brand dilution. As a result, regression testing is an approach that is focused on re-running functional and non-functional tests to ensure the excellent performance of the app even after a new version is released for the apps. However, regression testing can be complex without quality engineering that ensures appropriate testing strategies, choice of suitable devices, proper use of emulation and simulation, and much more.
- Omnichannel compatibility — As the type and nature of content and storytelling have changed across media and entertainment companies, cross-platform viewing is critical today. Users wish to consume content (movies, series, and other video content) from the comfort of their homes and on their choice of devices. This requires the media companies to execute efficient testing to ensure cross-platform compatibility, especially with the massive digitalization and new IoT devices coming into the market every now and then. With effective quality engineering, companies can seamlessly perform cross-platform and cross-browser testing across multiple locations to understand not only the functional and performance aspects of the content but its acceptance by consumers with different tastes and expectations in different regions of the world.
How HeadSpin's disruptive platform helps deliver quality engineering to fast-track the success of the media industry
The quantity of content is more than ever today, but the focus is not entirely on the quality. With rising consumer demands and hyper-competition in the market with several video apps, OTT media devices, and other related devices for consuming digital content, there lies a significant focus on the content's quality. This is where HeadSpin plays a critical role in streamlining OTT media testing and user experience testing, enabling companies to deliver flawless experiences to users consuming content across different platforms.
HeadSpin offers a unified AI-driven digital insights platform that allows end-to-end secure and remote testing on real devices, including Smart TV, Set Top Box, OTT devices, Roku, tablets, and much more, across 80+ global locations.
The solution allows users to evaluate the content delivered by companies and improve the overall content delivery, thereby enhancing the experiences for the users.
The platform captures data from across different real devices that are deployed in multiple locations and analyze these data with advanced machine learning and other data science techniques to render critical insights. Users can access the test devices remotely via HeadSpin remote Control UI/ Debug Bridge and leverage machine learning to perform different analyses like root cause analysis, regression testing, issue detection, and much more to obtain crucial insights. Further making it channelized for the users are the unique visualization capabilities of the HeadSpin Platform, offering helpful dashboards, actionable insights, and alerts for vital KPIs.
These comprehensive capabilities enable users to get complete visibility of the performance of the apps and devices under real scenarios.
How HeadSpin helps media companies deliver superior quality content
Leveraging data science and ML is the key to HeadSpin's unique capabilities of perfecting digital experiences for content consumers. HeadSpin's Audio Visual Platform is the one-stop solution for media testing needs, allowing testing by capturing the user experiences of real media devices, OTT devices, DRM-protected content, video apps, and many more.
The AV solution captures audio and video from any device placed inside the appliance to test the
- Physical camera and microphones
- Smart assistants
- Smart TVs
- Fair-use DRM screen capture
- Communication apps and camera apps
The AV platform is completely integrated into the HeadSpin user interface, APIs, and test automation frameworks and offers a centralized device lab for distributed test teams.
Primary advantages of HeadSpin's solution for the media industry
1. Seamless end-to-end testing: HeadSpin's AI testing platform helps to perform end-to-end testing and monitoring with real devices on a real carrier and WiFi networks around the globe. The platform enables users to perform automation testing of functionalities in real-world scenarios and execute functionality testing utilizing HeadSpin Global Device Infrastructure.
2. Capture QoE and streaming performance KPIs: HeadSpin enables AI-driven performance and user experience testing that helps assist in capturing critical QoE and streaming performance KPIs, including
- Blurriness, blockiness, Blur, Freezing, Flickering, etc.
- Video Frame rate Drops, Loading/Buffering Time
- Reference-free video MOS
- VMAF-based full reference video MOS
- Audio match analysis
- WebRTC support
The advanced AI capabilities allow users to automatically identify root causes of issues that degrade user experiences and resolve these issues proactively to deliver flawless experiences.
Diving deeper into HeadSpin’s capability of evaluating video quality—Mean Opinion Score
Quantifying the subjective perception of video content with a single number might seem challenging but not anymore with HeadSpin. HeadSpin offers the capability to measure the Mean Opinion Score, which is a measure of the subjective scores provided by a set of users in a study of the perception of content.
This reference-free MOS helps understand the subjective perception of both audio and video content with a single number ranging from 1-5, where a MOS score below 4 is considered poor QoE.
HeadSpin's MOS is backed by the largest video quality data set based on a supervised learning AI model that is calibrated against real user experiences. HeadSpin's patent-pending reference-free Video MOS is based on supervised learning algorithms trained on 1000s of data points. By pooling feedback from several subjective quality scores on diverse video content, this AI-driven model efficiently estimates the subjective quality score with no reliance on other metrics, making the capability one of a kind in the industry.
3. Record tests on TVs — HeadSpin allows to easily run and record tests for media devices like Smart TVs. Users can simply use the smart TV remote control app and execute commands on the setups box via the HeadSpin UI.
4. Video and audio analysis — Playback your media tests and analyze them with advanced video and audio analysis capabilities with HeadSpin to optimize the content quality and delivery. The prolific perceptual video quality KPIs and AI-based issues cards help users capture the critical video quality aspects and monitor the app's performance to ensure optimal user experiences.
5. Multiple deployment options — Leveraging HeadSpin solutions is made easier with the flexible deployment options offered by them. The solutions can be utilized on client premises, single-tenant cloud model, multi-tenant model, or Create Your Own Lab (reverse bridge) model. As a result, clients have extreme agility in choosing their preferred environment for executing tests safely and securely.
Key challenges that HeadSpin has addressed for leading media companies
With the hypercompetitive market and increasing consumer demands, media companies are constantly faced with unprecedented challenges in achieving their business goals and building brand loyalty. Following are some of the key challenges across the industry:
1. Optimizing in-app experiences — Launching an OTT app is a tedious job, and so is ensuring and maintaining optimal performance and functionality of the app for flawless user experiences. This requires efficient testing on real devices throughout the entire app lifecycle to test and monitor the live streaming services and video and audio quality of content.
HeadSpin's global device infrastructure enables companies to leverage a pool of shared devices and dedicated devices and run tests on devices to understand the video player's functionality across multiple global locations. The advanced testing platform offers key insights to better understand the functionality and performance of the apps throughout the user's journey, including vital actions like launching the app, clicking different options, and others.
Further, the AV Platform helps test specific parameters for the video apps like blockiness, blurriness, buffering, and quality of video with no need for a reference video.
2. Content evaluation of content and performance analysis across multiple locations — With an increasing consumer base and content, companies need an extensive evaluation of streaming KPIs across various platforms like mobile applications, streaming device apps, smart TV apps, DRM-protected content, and many more, in different global locations. Additionally, with newer techniques introduced, the companies require efficient change management strategies for their existing QA processes.
HeadSpin allows companies to mimic real-world user scenarios and simplifies functional and content evaluation for their applications. HeadSpin AV Box and reference-free Video MOS enable clients to analyze KPIs for DRM-protected content and execute test automation for crucial user journeys to help QA teams achieve quicker TAT.
3. Testing streaming apps on native apps and on real devices — Having the right frameworks for testing streaming apps not only on web-based apps but on native apps can be complex. In one instance, HeadSpin assisted a leading broadcast television network and pay-TV programmer in Latin America in improving their streaming app experience by enabling their engineers to test and understand the behavior of their digital products. HeadSpin assisted in automating performance and functional testing and addressing critical issues that degraded user experience. HeadSpin was integrated into their existing CI/CD pipeline to ensure delivering flawless experiences and also test for performances in new locations where the company was expanding.
Watch how HeadSpin assisted Globo meet the audio video testing requirements of their streaming app GloboPlay, thereby improving the streaming experience and driving omnichannel growth.
In this complex digital ecosystem, media and entertainment companies continually aim to create cohesive and engaging experiences for their end users. As they leverage the available technologies in marketplaces, the companies must understand how well these solutions can help them gain visibility into the user experiences to deliver optimal experiences for the users. HeadSpin's holistic solution for media and entertainment companies is helping them understand the nitty-gritty of the user experiences and accordingly automate end-to-end testing for their apps across multiple devices, networks, OSs, and in 80+ locations and help them cater to the consumer requirements.