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Stream it like Netflix: Is your Streaming Platform Tested Against All Odds? 31 January 2020

 

Who likes to “Wait”? Well of course, you don’t! Neither will your viewers do if their favorite shows  buffer for more time on your streaming platform. 

According to research, just one buffering event decreases the amount of video watched by 39%. Moreover, buffering reduces video watch time by 40%.  

The bait here is all about user experience! If your viewers have an unpleasant viewing experience on your streaming platform, they won’t hesitate to switch to that of your competitors. 

There are many aspects that go into creating a good, flawless streaming experience. You can identify these only when you subject your OTT platform for testing. However, when you are first stepping into the streaming market, you might not be aware of the challenges that you might face while testing a streaming platform. 

In this blog, we will cover the challenges and metrics that you need to consider while testing your streaming platform.

 

Why you Must Test Your Streaming Platform before heading to viewers?

Playback quality and seamless content delivery are the ones that create a great user experience. Now for smooth streaming, your platform has to:

  • Be capable of handling heavy internet traffic
  • Stream data flawlessly under slower network condition
  • Be stable and breakage free
  • Is compatible across all devices with no responsive issues
  • Stream without any cross-browser compatibility issues when used on desktop   

All of these issues can only be detected when you test your streaming platform before launching or releasing crucial front-end updates. However, this can be quite challenging as your testing team has to think about all possible scenarios that can hinder flawless streaming.

 

Metrics you need to check while Testing your Streaming Platform

 

1. Bit Rate:

Bit rate basically refers to the number of bits of audio/video content that can be transferred per second. It has a crucial role in analyzing the content quality experienced by your users. 

A higher bitrate means better image quality.

 

2. Buffer fill:

This is the one that, most of the time, determines whether your viewer will stay or quit streaming platform.

Firstly, buffering bucket is the grey bar appearing on your screen that fills up before the video starts playing. Buffer fill refers to the time taken to fill the buffering bucket while starting the video for the first time. 

Do not be surprised to find your viewers leaving if buffering time is more on your platform. 

 

3. Lagging Time:

Once the buffer of a content is initially filled, the audience should be able to stream in one  smooth playback, provided the download rate resonates with the average bit rate. However, this does not always happen. There are many times when the buffer halts eventually pausing the playback.

So, lagging time refers to the total waiting time including that of the initial buffer fill.

 

4. Lagging Ratio:

It is basically the ratio of watching time to waiting time. 

Technically, it is calculated as video play time over buffering time. Mostly, this ratio is low but never zero.

 

5. Data consumed:

It refers to the data spent by your user while playing any content or using your streaming platform. 

This metric helps to assess the demand for data of streamed content. 

 

6. Platform Compatibility:

Platform compatibility is a very important metric for a streaming platform. Viewers all across the world are going to stream content from different kinds of devices.  

So you need to ensure that content rendering in your streaming platform remains unbroken with fast buffering across all devices.

 

7. Subtitles Synchronization & Localization:

When targeting a global audience, you need to ensure that your content is available in different languages. Ofcourse, it is not feasible to have every video content in all languages. This is where subtitles add great value. 

However, most of the time, subtitles do not synchronize. And this does not favor a good user experience.  

Well, by understanding these metrics, you must have got the idea of minute complexities that can arise in your streaming platform. So, it clearly means that you will basically invite a knockdown to your streaming platform without proper testing. 

 

Challenges of Testing Streaming Platform

 

  • Unavailability of Devices for Cross-Device Testing

Viewers can happen to use your streaming platform from any kind of device, operating on Android and iOS, ranging from smartphones to 4K HD television.

Ensure your content is flawlessly streaming across all platforms irrespective of version of the operating system your user is using it on. 

On the other hand, it is very necessary to ensure that the resolution of the streaming content as well as your platform’s performance remains uncompromised across all devices.

 

  • Cross-Browser Compatibility Issues

Now, this is quite a similar challenge as the previous one. When testing your streaming platform on browser, you have to check for the same on all existing browsers you can possibly think of. You need to ensure that your user can stream your content on every platform, be it Chrome, Safari, UC browser, et al.  

 

  • Response Time in Varying Network

High data speed is essential to play a content with less buffering. You have to check the impact that network fluctuations have on your platform’s response. This is challenging as it is not always feasible to test a platform across varying networks having varying data speeds. Moreover, there are real-time scenarios when users enjoy streaming content. For example, while traveling, the connectivity often goes to toss. Potential issues that hinder streaming flow in such situations have to be considered. 

 

  • Issues caused by User Interaction

When a user plays a content, blocks of data are categorically downloaded and buffered before appearing on the screen. 

Generally, content is played on the default resolution according to the network connectivity. Some users may try to change to a higher resolution when content is streaming at a lower one due to bad network. This might cause the video to stop and buffer for an uncertain duration. Every user might not be technically aware of the changes happening and might have negative feedback.

In such cases, you have to think of solutions like displaying a message for the error or change of resolution due to bad network speed. 

 

  • Load Testing for Excessive Traffic

There are many scenarios wherein well-developed platforms have crashed due to traffic overload. Not to forget that even big brands like Hulu have suffered glitches during popular events. 

For a streaming platform, it is natural to get a heavy load of traffic requesting for audio and video content. Audience prefer streaming platforms that load high-quality content quickly.

It could potentially result in a crash if you do not have a stable platform. 

You have to detect the limit till which it can handle this overload. For example, viral content drive huge traffic. Out of the huge global population, you have to assume a maximum viewer count for such content which is obviously challenging. 

This is where load testing of your streaming platform comes into play. 

 

Conclusion

Considering these challenges, it is quite evident that the entire process is both time and resource consuming. Eventually, the “go-to-market” time will be impacted. Instead of going through such lengthy, stressful, and complex procedure, a smarter option is to go for a streaming solution that provides a well developed and tested platform for streaming high-quality video and audio content. Do you know that you can launch your most customizable, fully tested OTT platform instantly? Check out our video here on “How to launch your streaming platform instantly”

Muvi provides an end-to-end streaming platform that takes care of all audio/video streaming needs. With its white-labeled platform packed with unique features, you can launch your own enterprise-grade streaming platform instantly.  

Sign up with Muvi to avail a 14 days Free Trial Now! 

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Mousumi Rana
Mousumi is a Content Marketer for Muvi. She is passionate about writing corporate blogs, articles, case studies, and marketing collaterals. When not working, she loves to dance, gym, and explore new places.

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