Every night, millions of viewers make themselves comfortable in front of the TV and ask the same question: “What shall we watch?”. Choosing the best content in the sea of options available on the various streaming platforms can be tricky. However, what users may not have considered is that developing these over-the-top television (OTT) apps which have revolutionized their at-home viewing experiences is no mean feat either.
Before a single line of code is written, multiple elements of the project must be nailed down. This article will give an overview of the main challenges in the OTT market before outlining the top 20 questions that teams should consider in order to build an efficient and high-quality OTT application.
Let’s dive in.
It's no secret that the streaming market has grown exponentially over the past few years. According to a market data report published by Statista in June 2022, the global Video on Demand market size is about US$94.4 billion in 2022 and is growing at an average growth rate per year of 15.6% up to 2027. Streaming continues to grow, with the biggest players pumping billions of dollars into capturing and keeping subscribers.
OTT is now a mainstay technology and consumers have developed certain expectations when it comes to quality and consistency. To earn and retain loyal users, application owners need to pay as much attention to features and user experience as they do when it comes to the content itself.
The most successful projects are run by small teams of people with great decision-making power. Starting the OTT development process with a group of stakeholders that connects technical, design, marketing, dev ops, and financial leaders is a smart way to get people on the same page and gather key information. If they are already familiar with agile best practices, even better. If not, investing in agile training will likely pay dividends in the long run.
From a UX design perspective, one of the central challenges of creating OTT apps is that owners typically develop for multiple platforms and devices at the same time. There are two motives to keep these experiences as similar as possible: first, a unified brand experience and, second, to save time and money on design.
However, embracing the differences between platforms and devices is also an important factor when delivering a compelling user experience. Finding the right balance between these two approaches will be a central challenge that should be given considerable research and thought before UXers begin designing solutions.
Who is the target audience and how many unique market segments do you have for this product?
Which platforms do you plan to develop for (iOS, Android, AppleTV, Roku, etc.)? How will you monetize the platform?
What kind of content will this application support (short form, long form, clips, live broadcasts)?
Who is the product owner? What process will that person use to define the features and functions required for the MVP product?
What is the go-live plan? Is it expected to publish live broadcasts? When should each stage be completed in order to meet your launch goals?
Who will be designing the user experience? Have you documented UX best practices for each platform you plan to develop?
Have you already identified any existing data sources for video content and metadata? Are these data sources on-premises or in a cloud platform?
Have you selected a Content Management System (CMS)?
What user data metrics and analytics do you want to track? Do you have an existing system where this information can be stored?
Have you already specified a Content Distribution Network (CDN)?
Have you defined a communication workflow between the critical disciplines (product owners, project managers, designers, developers, and QA)?
What is your plan for product testing? Will you conduct tests in line with different viewing environments such as lighting and distance from the screen? For example, people watch TV from around 10 feet away.
How will users discover content? Will they use searching, scrolling, or a recommendation engine?
Will the application support a rating system and curated playlists?
How will you authenticate users (user/pass, TV Everywhere, social login)? How will you plan to limit the number of concurrent logins from a single viewer such as restricting the number of devices?
Will there be any settings you would like users to be able to set and save?
For paid subscribers, how will they be able to check and edit subscriber status?
Do any of the applications require internationalization or localization?
Who will be responsible for application maintenance? Who will provide support services?
What is your total subscriber/user goal? Have you set reasonable expectations with senior management and investors?
As OTT technology becomes more established, application owners are faced with a considerably more crowded field of competitors and consumers with higher expectations. Therefore, the key to success is making sure you understand the challenges fully before developing a solution.
Defining the features, technology, delivery, and monetization options, as well as thinking through the user experience in the early stages will allow you to estimate development costs and build your business case more closely.
So, in the short and long term, studying this guide will greatly streamline the development of a high-quality OTT app that your users will love.
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