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Bitmovin Stream Lab – A New Approach to Device Testing, Support and Playback

Launching & managing a streaming service in today’s market can be a bit overwhelming and I know right now you’re saying “Duh Adam, thanks for the groundbreaking opinion” but it’s not for the reasons you would normally think – workflow. It’s actually about the number of devices you and your team have the capability of supporting. Audience reach is essential for any business and one major piece that is often overlooked is the difficulty around testing, supporting, and maintaining those devices to guarantee that you’re delivering the highest quality of experience with a Player on all of your supported platforms. This is an all too common occurrence in the industry and one I’ll address in this blog by going into: 

  • The current state of streaming device fragmentation
  • Two testing methods that are available for companies
  • What Bitmovin is doing to make developers’ lives easier
  • How you and your team can support more devices with less effort

 

Addressing Streaming Device Fragmentation

How many devices do I need to support?

The devices on the market that audiences are using to stream content are growing rapidly, especially when you account for older models and new ones arriving on the market. Streaming Device makers don’t show any signs of slowing down and are continuously upgrading or introducing new products for users to take advantage of, which can affect the streaming services trying to engage viewer segments. Now, I’m sure you’re saying “Adam, it can’t be that bad”, but, brace yourself and take look at this quick snapshot of just the major players for devices:

Streaming Device Fragmentation_Current Device Landscape_Graphic_Brand Logos

Current Landscape of Streaming Device Fragmentation

From phones, browsers, and TV suppliers to cars, USB devices, and game consoles, it seems like there is no end to the ever-expanding device growth and it’s becoming the norm.

Showing the strain it is taking on the streaming industry, another great example of streaming device fragmentation is how leading services support at least 24 devices across 12 different platforms, which corresponds with what we’ve seen in the responses from our annual Video Developer Report and can be viewed in the graph below.

Streaming Device Fragmentation_Video Developer Report_Line Graph

Streaming Device Fragmentation according to Bitmovin’s Video Developer Report

If streaming device fragmentation wasn’t concerning, viewer expectations for a better quality of experience across devices continue to rise and from a recent study done by Parks Associates, the average household uses more than four different devices at any given moment. A bad viewing experience on any one of these platforms can risk poor press, negative app reviews, and even churn to other streaming services. 

Viewer Expectations of Available Streaming Devices_Pie Chart

Viewer Expectations of Available Streaming Devices

Soon enough, it will be unmanageable and difficult for any streaming service to support and create a good user experience across all devices, as they would have to physically own them to test the streaming experience.

What are the current ways to support more streaming devices?

There are two ways in which streaming services can guarantee user viewing experiences; manual testing & automated testing of their player on each device.

Streaming Device Testing Processes_Workflow Illustration

Standard Streaming Device Testing Processes

Both come at a high cost in terms of time and salaries, especially manual testing as it requires your in-house or external agency team to build out a testing regimen that they must physically do and observe on a regular basis. Automated testing comes at a high expense as well, as you would build it either from scratch in-house or acquire a barebones solution. In the long term, this option tends to become more cost-effective & stable as you don’t constantly have your team dedicated to doing just that and let the automation do its thing. The major problem, however, is that you & your team must build out these testing parameters for each and every use case and device type that you intend to support as both options for an automated testing solution don’t come preset with anything and require Q&A expertise and detailed knowledge of streaming video technology.

What is Stream Lab and how does it simplify my workflow

Now that we’ve gotten through the nitty-gritty of streaming device fragmentation, user demand, and current testing approaches, let’s get to the good news – there is light at the end of the tunnel. With all of the issues identified, testing has never been harder and more complex, we saw and heard the need, rolled up our sleeves, and developed Stream Lab. Business leaders and developers can wipe away the stress sweat that was building and finally breathe a sigh of relief as Stream Lab is set to make your lives easier. 

If you don’t believe me, just check out this cool intro we gave it:

Through partnerships with device makers, we were already testing our Player on physical devices in real streaming environments to guarantee the quality & functionality we were able to deliver to our clients. We also had built out the use cases, as we’ve worked on many different workflows and were able to populate the needs across each device that our Player supports easily. Transitioning this and making it accessible on the Bitmovin Dashboard to our clients is where the major work came in and it has now been launched (in Beta)! 💪 

Streaming Device Testing Process with Bitmovin Streamlab_Workflow Illustration

Streaming Device Testing Process with Bitmovin Streamlab

Stream Lab was created to simplify your workflow and life as it makes testing, supporting, and managing playback on more devices easier. You and your team have full control over the testing scenarios, it comes pre-populated with use cases, doesn’t require you to have a large team and there is no need for extensive video knowledge. The best part of all is that it’s 100% automated and enables you to test with our industry-leading player (humble brag) that helps guarantee your audience has the best streaming experience on the platforms you want to test. All it takes is to follow the simple stream set up guidelines, submit your stream for the device you want to test on, standby for the stream parameters to be validated for testing, and then come back to review the test results (Now there is a 2-week testing cadence which will be quicker once out of Beta). Join the Beta of Stream Lab as we expand on its functionality, testing cadence, and the device types included, but expect to fully launch it soon.

Benefits of StreamLab

Streaming services that use Stream Lab stand to see many benefits, but if we had to pick a favorite…  it essentially Guarantees ROI (yea we said it and mean it). Through the testing, you’re able to ensure a greater viewer experience for your audience on the devices you test, which will ultimately help in avoiding churn. As it saves your team time and resources developing the use cases, they are able to prioritize other tasks that could be essential to your offering. It will also help your team and company save on budget, as you will be able to support more devices without needing more overhead. 

If you are already a customer and would like to check out Stream Lab, speak with your Bitmovin representative and we will activate it on your dashboard right away. If you’re new here and you or your team would like you to check out Stream Lab, sign up for a free trial, and request access to Stream Lab within the Bitmovin dashboard by sending us a message through the “Get In Touch” link.

Author

Adam Massaro is a Product Marketing Manager at Bitmovin that is focused on everything about the Bitmovin Player deployments and developments.