Join the webinar on 'Open source GenAI tools for Test Automation' on May 28th or May 30th.
close
OTT Testing Tutorial

OTT Testing Guide - What is it, Checklist, Best Practices, Challenges, and Solutions

July 4, 2022
 by 
David BrokerDavid Broker
David Broker

The media and entertainment industry has seen much growth in the past few years, especially during the pandemic. From people spending more time on OTT platforms to developments like Unreal Engine 5 seeking to revolutionize gaming, it looks likely that this trend is going to continue.

A report from Statista shows that, on average, consumers spend about 463 minutes daily with media. A report from PWC adds to this by showing us that the OTT revenue in the US for 2021 hit $24.6bn.

The media and entertainment industry are competitive, and those who wish to provide these services must cater to a massive prospective audience list. Organizations must thoroughly research the latest trends to ensure their product stands out and hire QA consultants to help brainstorm ideas. 

However, OTT testing plays a crucial role in gaining a competitive advantage and winning over users. A digital platform free of bugs and glitches will improve the customer retention rate and bring in more customers. OTT testing and entertainment app testing helps ensure your product performs its best and is stable.

Also check: The 5G Impact - OTT and Streaming Industry

What is OTT Testing?

Over-the-top (OTT) testing evaluates the performance, functionality, and UX of OTT platforms and services, which deliver content straight to users over the Internet, avoiding traditional media distribution channels like cable or satellite TV. This testing type is crucial when streaming services are becoming increasingly popular, as it ensures that content is delivered smoothly, securely, and with high quality to various devices. OTT testing encompasses a range of tests, including but not limited to streaming quality, load handling, compatibility across different devices and operating systems, user interface and user experience assessments, and security evaluations. Ensuring a seamless and engaging UX is paramount, as even minor disruptions can significantly impact viewer satisfaction and retention.

Why is OTT Testing Important?

In the digital age, OTT platforms have become the cornerstone of entertainment, offering content at our fingertips. But with great content comes the responsibility of delivering an impeccable user experience. This is where OTT testing steps into the limelight.

  • Enhancing User Experience: At its core, OTT testing ensures viewers enjoy seamless streaming without glitches. Imagine settling in to watch your favorite show and being greeted with buffering screens or sync issues. Frustrating, right? That's what OTT testing aims to eliminate, ensuring that your platform's first impression is a hit, not a miss.
  • Ensuring Content Quality: Quality is the king of digital content. OTT testing doesn't just check for technical snags; it ensures top video and audio quality across various devices and internet speeds, maintaining the content's integrity and viewer satisfaction.
  • Compatibility Across Devices: In today's world, viewers watch content on various devices—from smartphones to smart TVs. OTT testing verifies that your content performs splendidly across all these devices, ensuring that a viewer's experience is consistent, whether on a tablet or a 65-inch TV.
  • Boosting Viewer Retention: Viewer loyalty is gold in the competitive OTT space. Effective OTT testing means fewer frustrations and more enjoyment, a crucial factor in keeping viewers returning for more. It's about creating a reliable and enjoyable user experience that turns first-time viewers into loyal fans.
  • Supporting Global Reach: With OTT platforms accessible worldwide, testing ensures that content transcends borders effectively. It involves checking for localization issues, subtitles accuracy, and compliance with regional standards, making your content globally relatable and accessible.

How to Perform OTT Testing

  • Define Testing Scope: Start by outlining the specific aspects of the OTT service you want to test, such as streaming performance, user interface, compatibility, and security. This scope will guide your testing strategy and help ensure comprehensive coverage.
  • Test Environment Setup: Create a test environment that closely mimics the real-world conditions in which the OTT service will operate. This includes configuring the necessary hardware and software and simulating various network conditions to test the service under different scenarios.
  • Streaming Quality Testing: Evaluate the quality of video and audio streaming under various network conditions. This includes assessing buffer times, resolution adjustments, latency, and overall stability of the stream.
  • Load Testing: Simulate different levels of user traffic to understand how the service performs under stress. This helps identify potential bottlenecks and scalability issues affecting user experience during peak usage times.
  • Compatibility Testing: Ensure the OTT service functions correctly across various devices, operating systems, and browsers. This is crucial for consistent UX regardless of how viewers access the service.
  • User Interface and Experience Testing: Evaluate the intuitiveness and efficiency of the user interface, ensuring that users can easily navigate the service and find the content they're interested in. This also involves testing the responsiveness of the interface and accessibility features.
  • Security Testing: Assess the robustness of the service's security measures to protect against potential threats. This includes testing for data encryption, authentication processes, and protection against various cyber attacks.
  • Automated Testing: Implement automated testing tools where applicable to streamline the testing process, especially for repetitive tasks or scenarios that require extensive testing across multiple devices or configurations.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Feedback Integration: Establish a system for continuous monitoring and feedback collection to identify and address issues proactively. Integrating user feedback into the testing process can provide valuable insights into user preferences.
  • Documentation and Reporting: Thoroughly document the testing process, results, and insights. This documentation should include identified issues, test logs, and improvement recommendations, serving as a valuable resource for the development and quality assurance teams.

These steps can help you conduct comprehensive OTT testing to ensure that your service delivers an exceptional user experience and meets the high expectations of today's viewers.

The Benefits of OTT Testing

1. Enhanced User Experience

OTT testing focuses on ensuring that the end-user experience is smooth and enjoyable. By identifying and resolving issues related to video playback, buffering, audio quality, and subtitles, testing helps maintain a high level of user satisfaction. This, in turn, can lead to increased viewer engagement, longer watch times and higher retention rates.

2. Cross-Platform Compatibility

With myriad devices available for content consumption—including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles—ensuring compatibility across all these platforms is a challenge. OTT testing verifies that content streams flawlessly on various devices, operating systems, and browsers, thereby broadening the reach and accessibility of the service.

3. Improved Content Quality

Testing helps maintain the integrity of content quality from the source to the viewer's screen. OTT testing ensures that viewers receive the highest quality content that their internet bandwidth and device can support by assessing various aspects such as resolution, bitrate, and encoding settings.

4. Network and Bandwidth Optimization

OTT services depend heavily on the Internet, making them susceptible to network variability and bandwidth constraints. Testing helps optimize streaming performance under different network conditions, ensuring the service can deliver content efficiently even under constrained bandwidth or high network traffic scenarios.

5. Security and Compliance

With the increasing concerns around digital content piracy and data security, OTT testing also encompasses security audits and compliance checks. This ensures that the platform follows industry standards, protects data, and prevents unauthorized access to content.

Apps in OTT Testing

OTT (Over-The-Top) testing involves evaluating various applications and services delivered over the Internet, bypassing traditional distribution methods like cable or satellite television. 

OTT testing encompasses various applications to ensure users receive the best streaming experience possible.

  • Audio Streaming Apps: These are tested for the clarity and richness of audio output and for how quickly they can start playing music or podcasts without long buffering times. The aim is to ensure seamless listening experiences on various of devices, from smartphones to home entertainment systems, under various network conditions.
  • Video Streaming Platforms: The testing focus here extends to the visual experience—sharpness, color accuracy, and smooth playback are key metrics. Additionally, the ability to adjust video quality dynamically based on the user's internet speed (adaptive streaming) and ensuring that videos play well on different platforms and devices are critical for user satisfaction.
  • VoIP Services: For services that enable voice communication over the Internet, the quality of the voice call, the stability of the connection, and minimal delay (latency) are paramount. Testing ensures that users enjoy clear and uninterrupted calls, even in areas with less-than-ideal internet connectivity.

Each area requires detailed attention to different technical aspects to deliver content that meets users' expectations for speed, quality, and reliability.

Testing in the OTT space focuses on ensuring these applications' quality of service (QoS), quality of experience (QoE), content delivery, performance, compatibility, and security. Here are some of the categories of apps involved in OTT testing:

  • Streaming Video Services: This is the most common category of OTT applications, including platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max. Testing focuses on streaming quality, buffering times, video resolution, audio sync, and cross-platform compatibility.
  • Audio Streaming Services: Platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Tidal fall into this category. Testing these apps involves assessing audio quality, streaming efficiency, playlist management, and app responsiveness.
  • Live Broadcasting Services: These services, including Twitch, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live, allow users to stream live content. Testing involves evaluating latency, stream stability, quality under varying network conditions, and interactive features like chat.
  • Video on Demand (VOD) Services: Unlike streaming services that offer a library of content, VOD services like Pay-Per-View offer specific content to users on-demand—testing checks for transaction security, content delivery, and playback quality.

OTT Testing Checklist

Content Delivery and Streaming Quality

  • Adaptive Bitrate Testing: Verify that your streaming service adjusts the video quality depending on the user's internet speed to ensure smooth playback.
  • Buffer Health Metrics: Monitor buffer status to minimize loading times and prevent buffering during playback.
  • Latency Measurements: Ensure low latency for live streaming content to provide real-time viewing experiences close to traditional broadcast timings.

Device Compatibility

  • Multi-Device Testing: Test your service across various devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles, to ensure compatibility.
  • Operating System and Browser Compatibility: Validate that your OTT platform performs consistently across different operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.) and web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.).

User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX)

  • Navigation and Usability Testing: Ensure intuitive and easy navigation of your platform—test for responsiveness and ease of finding and playing content.
  • Accessibility Testing: Make sure your service is accessible to users with disabilities, complying with standards like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Performance and Scalability

  • Load Testing: Simulate high traffic to ensure your platform can handle peak loads, especially during live events or premieres.
  • Stress Testing: Determine the breaking point of your system and its behavior under extreme conditions to identify potential bottlenecks.

Security and Compliance

  • Data Protection and Privacy: Ensure robust encryption and data protection measures are in place to safeguard user information and comply with regulations like GDPR.
  • Content Security: Implement DRM (Digital Rights Management) solutions to protect your content from piracy.

The Challenges in the Media and Entertainment Industry

Here are some challenges faced by the media and entertainment industry:

  • Premium service providers offer great UX and support higher-quality video.
  • The number of devices that OTT platforms run on are increasing. When device variety increases so does the need for testing these devices.
  • The competition is unparalleled because companies are launching new streaming services regularly - increasing subscriber churn rates.
  • There is a massive amount of data collected in this industry. Analyzing and using this data to make critical business decisions is difficult.
  • Another challenge is subscription fatigue - losing customer interest over time due to exhaustion from keeping track of too many subscriptions. A report from Deloitte says that 52% of users find it hard to access content across the various services.

How HeadSpin’s OTT Testing Tool Helps

Since users connect to their OTT on various devices, the HeadSpin Audio Video Platform is a great OTT testing tool and allows cross-browser and device compatibility. So, you can use it to perform OTT testing on your OTT services and other media applications like video conferences, gaming, and more.

The HeadSpin Audio Visual Platform is accessible from diverse device locations, allowing you to perform entertainment app testing over different regions, compare the results, and find localization issues. It also lets them compare KPIs against different situations or previous versions of their applications.

Through the HeadSpin Platform, you will get insight into KPIs that media companies prioritize. Video MOS is one of these. It allows you to track and verify MOS scores and ensure it continues moving in the right direction. Other KPIs include frame rate, blurriness, and downsampling index. Insight into all these KPIs will help you maintain your subscription rate.

OTT Media Testing KPIs

Apart from Video MOS, the HeadSpin OTT testing platform also offers the Netflix VMAF (Video Multi-Method Assessment Fusion). Our entertainment app testing is framework agnostic and derives results based on KPI analysis. Through its analysis tool, the HeadSpin Platform can also prove those tests requiring OCR (optical character recognition), like closed captioning, fast-forward, returning to video at the correct time, and rewind. 

continuous learning and improvement in OTT testing

Media and Entertainment App Testing: How It Works

There are a vast majority of services in the entertainment and media industry. Print media includes newspapers, magazines, books, and more. Broadcast media has the television, and the internet media has social media. Apart from these, you have photo and video editing apps, mobile games, virtual tours, and many more.

Read: Securing Your Digital Platform with Quality Assurance in Media and Entertainment

Entertainment app testing will depend heavily on the product the QA team will have to review. Here are some general aspects of how OTT and entertainment app testing will work:

Types of Media Testing

Typically, running functional tests for entertainment and media is the best way to start. Functional testing checks the product's features and functions, helping QA specialists verify these against customer requirements. Functional testing includes the following tests: 

UI Media Testing

UI testing inspects the frontend elements that users use to interact with the product; these enable functionality on the backend. The elements include buttons, text inputs, checkboxes, forms, links, and more.

Feature Media Testing

Feature testing involves evaluating if the features described in the client requirements are present, understanding their behavior, and identifying bugs.

API Testing

QA specialists run API tests to check integrations with databases, operating systems, libraries, and third-party services.

Acceptance Media Testing

Acceptance tests are the final check to determine the product's functionality before release. Organizations release the product to the users, who, in turn, look at it from a new perspective and share feedback. 

QA specialists use non-functional media testing to focus on other aspects of the software behavior. They use it to understand how the product works by evaluating its usability, accessibility, speed, and more. It helps them verify if the product meets user expectations. Non-functional media testing includes the following category of tests:

Compatibility Testing

Compatibility tests help verify if the product is compatible with various devices and if it can run on devices with different operating systems, various browser versions, and different hardware specifications.

Performance Testing

QA teams run performance tests to check the product's performance. It helps estimate the product's ability to handle various user loads, observe its behavior under heavy traffic, and understand its capacity to scale.

UX Testing

As the name suggests, UX tests help verify the product's design and implemented logic. It allows QA teams to see if the product is easy to use and appealing to the eyes. 

Localization Testing

Localization tests involve testing the product's performance and capabilities from the perspective of a specific audience. This audience usually resides in a particular region, with a unique language and different cultures.

You can run tests either manually or through automation. With automation, what is the best way to use it to track and optimize video quality?

Types of Testing Post Release

It is essential to remember that the QA activities for companies that offer media and entertainment services continue well after they release the product. Once they release the product, they must maintain and provide software support. Most companies continue developing and updating their product with new features, changing the design, adding more content, or even entering a different market. While at this stage, here are the following tests that they perform:

Regression Testing

Regression tests help the QA specialists identify bugs in new updates after changes to the code. Regression testing involves many repetitions, so teams usually prefer to automate it. 

Smoke Testing

Smoke testing is a set of minimal tests that help identify the obvious errors that come with bug fixes or updates to a new build. 

QA Audit

Independent companies usually run QA audits. These audits are systematic and help estimate the product's quality and performance. 

Business Analysis

Business analysis involves working with user feedback and the latest trends to estimate the product's performance and features. The information gathered helps improve the product and its scale.

Also read: Unit, Integration, and Functional Testing - 4 main points of difference

What You Should Focus On

Testing Core Functionality

Since every application and service comes with unique features, it is critical to test their core functionality. Core functionalities usually include the highlights or features of your product that make it memorable and attract users.

Checking Platform Performance

Performance is another aspect that needs constant focus. Performance includes response time, loading speeds, and similar parameters. These are crucial for all entertainment and media services.

Payment Functionality

When it comes to money, we're all extremely cautious. Focusing on ensuring your payment gateway is secure is essential. Ensure you offer various methods of payment and that your billing works seamlessly.

Learn how HeadSpin supports global BFSI organizations to test banking applications and ensure a flawless user experience with data security.

Smart Personalization

Personalization of services is critical to keep consumers happy. Ensure your product works well in this regard and keeps track of user interests and preferences. That way, they will be sure to get relevant content.

Privacy

Like security, privacy is a critical issue in today's digital world. Your users need to feel that their privacy is in good hands. Since entertainment and media providers deal with sensitive information, they must ensure security breaches don't occur.

Read: A comprehensive guide to mobile app security testing

Conclusion

The number of users constantly using entertainment and media makes this field so complex and essential to regularly perform OTT application testing. Companies need to consider innovative approaches and leverage OTT testing tools to test their entertainment and media services. They must test their software before it goes live to avoid complications.  

The HeadSpin Audio-Visual Platform allows you to test entertainment, media, gaming, OTT media devices, DRM-protected content, and much more.

FAQs

Q1. What factors to consider while measuring video quality?

Ans. 

  • Bit Rate
  • Lag length
  • Buffer fill
  • Lag ratio
  • Play length

Q2. What are the skills required for automation testing?

Ans. 

  • Proficient in programming languages.
  • Must have experience with manual testing.
  • Familiar with DevOps & Agile methodologies.
  • Must have excellent analytical & communication capabilities, time management, and reporting.

Q3. What elements do you measure in video load testing?

Ans. You can monitor video streaming metrics, real-time viewership, and developing video streaming infrastructure according to user behavior.

OTT Testing Guide - What is it, Checklist, Best Practices, Challenges, and Solutions

4 Parts

Close

Perfect Digital Experiences with Data Science Capabilities

Utilize HeadSpin's advanced capabilities to proactively improve performance and launch apps with confidence
popup image