Why Over-The-Top Development Should Be Cross-Everything

When considering your software’s product development across all streaming services and possible delivery platforms like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV, the sheer number of different options can be daunting. Understanding the intricacies of what each Over-The-Top platform offers, from perks to limitations, is even more of an undertaking.

Thanks to the constant advancements in technology that our current, competitive digital space is mandating, one of the great challenges for any developer is finding the right tools or frameworks to help this kind of work take less time.

This post will outline some of the key elements these different OTT platforms offer and talk about the ins and outs of ensuring your product is not only cross-platform, but cross-everything.

Rise of Cross-Everything Demands

Cross-platform app development has become more and more popular because of increased demand for products that work across all OTT platforms. The correct set of tools can help you make native or almost-native apps — with just one codebase. Then your product can reach a larger audience at less cost and fewer hours. One of the biggest markets is in Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Android TV platforms and web based smart TVs such as Samsung's Tizen and LG's webOS

OTT and Smart TVs

Each of these platforms has their own backend systems, assets, content delivery networks and infrastructure for providing and servicing these videos. All of that has to be compliant with your product, despite their varying backends. The trend has been solidifying in the past 5-7 years, thanks to the rise of streaming. These services want their apps to look as close to the same as possible no matter what kind of TV their user has – from menus to playback.

Users won’t know exactly what’s different, but they might be able to compare the ease of UX, even within their own homes, if they own more than one OTT device. Maintaining the brand’s look and feel with graphics and copy — plus extras like preview videos — across all of these OTT platforms is essential. When you don’t develop OTT cross-everything, you run the risk of a fragmented experience.

Fragmentation and How To Avoid It

Browser fragmentation has long been a concern for developers as they look to provide the same experience for users across Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Then, mobile gave rise to the same fragmentation fears on mobile sites, followed by applications that needed to work in both iOS and Android in the same way. Now the same is true across the four major OTT platforms. Users will expect to have relatively the same experience no matter the platform, so creating a unified experience between platforms is essential.

Getting a product-centric consensus is a big challenge, though. OTT development being cross-everything might be the best idea, but it is not the easiest thing to execute. Ensuring the best possible UX per platform by making the different experiences as seamless as you can requires expertise and attention to detail.

Fine-Tuning Your Cross-Everything Product

Differences like memory changes and varying levels of power in OTT devices can greatly affect the platform’s performances. Images may have to be smaller on some devices that are unable to process 4K. Being able to provide lighter-in-size content for some of those machines is an intricate process that experts who really know how to fine-tune your OTT product.

They can also pinpoint the key differences that will become challenges in creating a seamless UX across platforms. Using certain best practices, they can proof and improve your UX even incrementally to coincide with the power of the OTT device. This progressive enhancement — starting with a carefully designed base experiencefor the low-end devices, then growing to meet the demands of higher-end ones — means avoiding the trap that one size fits all for your OTT devices across every platform.

The expertise comes when people know, thanks to experience, exactly what they’re doing and can make small tweaks that maintain the integrity of your product. To avoid degraded quality or long load times, for example, you may have to sacrifice a video playing in the background. As your digital platform development partner would tell you, it would be worth it to build the best UX you can, but something shared by everyone on the platform, no matter the OTT device.

Looking to partner with a team that knows OTT cross-platform development like the backs of their hands? Get in touch with Zemoga today!

About the author

German is a Software Engineer with over 15 years of experience building interactive products in a Front-End Technical role. Last year, he assumed the challenge of leading our OTT efforts as Head of OTT Development at Zemoga