The purpose of an external technical audit is to help an organization analyze and evaluate its own service or product. Unlike an internal audit, this audit is carried out by a outsider professional expertise, competent and impartial.
The auditor has strong technical skills and an understanding of the organization’s needs.The aim of the review is to formulate a viable proposal including service improvement opportunities.
In recent years, the explosion of the VOD/SVOD market (+46% growth in France*) shows a global interest in the development of OTT platforms. At the beginning of 2020, the market has already exceeded one billion euros in revenue*. Current or future platform managers are facing many challenges, particularly technical ones, to offer users a high-performance and interactive service. In the following, we present the methodological aspects of a technical audit to improve their own streaming service.
You may have a streaming platform or want to launch one in the coming months. You and your team should certainly ask yourself these critical questions: should we develop our platform internally or externally? Do we have the right technical and human resources? Which features meet the needs of users today and which ones will do so tomorrow? What are the requirements for a scalable and high-performance platform?
The first step of the audit is to evaluate the current service to give a result of the study and ways of improvement. In this article we take example of the LaCinetek platform which has benefited from an external audit by Kinow as a technical advisor.
The elements to be considered for a streaming service are the following:
- Analysis of the turnover and costs associated with the platform
- Analysis of the technical infrastructure including hosting and video service (transcoding, storage, broadcasting, DRM protection)
- Analysis of in-house software
- List of existing features on the streaming platform
- Analysis of the interconnection of third-party applications (suppliers and distribution channels): existing solution, payment gateway, study of the international version, front-end applications
- List of common problems encountered by platform administrators
- Recommend solutions to improve existing infrastructure and reduce costs
The detailed analysis of these elements allows us to reach a wide technical and functional spectrum. If malfunctions are found, the auditor will propose recommendations to improve the existing system.
Review and recommendation
In our example, the analysis of the existing platform has allowed us to determine certain blocking points in terms of costs and features in order to anticipate the evolution of the platform over the mid and long term.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of problems frequently encountered by streaming platforms:
One of the crucial points of its activity is to know its commercial offer and know how to adapt it to the real needs of the market and users. The offer may be too complex and needs to be simplified. Many purchasing methods prevent a good understanding of the offer and do not make the user journey more fluid.
SVOD, TVOD, gifts, pre-payment, trial period, sponsorship…choose the most relevant models for your business and leave out the others. Your conversion rate will be improved.
Platform management interface
Is the content management control panel suitable for selling video products? Many times, classic e-commerce sites have a complicated platform management, which is not designed for video content. This can result in a dispersion of functionalities in the interface and modules that do not provide a good user experience.
To simplify navigation, it is important to group the different tabs of the administration panel by logical themes (video management, user management, subscription tracking, ...), to remove useless functionalities and to improve the interface (UX and UI) in order to increase the efficiency of management by the teams.
Video statistics are essential for the collection, analysis and interpretation of streaming data. Knowing your audience is primordial to be able to send a relevant and targeted message and to guide your content production/acquisition. Display bugs and raw data that are difficult to exploit hamper the effectiveness of your marketing teams.
Cross-referencing video statistics with the CRM and the catalog makes it possible to obtain a viewing history by user and by content, to be able to transfer information to right-holders or to know the best titles and those that are not successful with users in order to adapt the catalog.
In addition, having knowledge about your delivery is vital, as one of the main costs resulting from a streaming platform is the bandwidth usage by users. It is of the essence to be able to limit a maximum number of views per user and a multi-screen limitation for the same customer account.
Any streaming platform must be hosted and this induces monthly hosting costs that should not be neglected (servers, database, pre-production, NAS...). If your server resources are oversized and do not adapt to the traffic of the video service, it will not be viable over time.
On the other hand, you have to be uncompromising in your choice of video service. The latter, including transcoding, storage, delivery and DRM licenses, must be scalable for the evolution of your VOD service. The quality of the video streaming will keep users faithful to your service, who are always looking for a smooth experience when viewing its content. A video platform that costs you more than it earns is not durable.
Care must be taken not to accumulate technical debt. The audit can reveal important flaws: obsolete and heterogeneous source code due to the multiplicity of technical partners, complex maintenance of applications with permanent bugs that have not been corrected, limited functional evolution, security problems, lack of technical documentation... etc.
Migrating to a SaaS solution such as Kinow allows you to limit technical costs and benefit from a scalable infrastructure and a market-leading solution. The saved budget can be reinvested in content acquisition and marketing.
In order to be able to adapt to the functional evolutions of streaming services and user demands, it is vital to offer a solution that can interconnect with third-party applications.
The absence of an API can lead to many issues over time. No possibility of developing third-party applications (mobile, Smart TV, STB), no automated operations possible (imports, exports), no possibility of integration on third-party sites (such as multimedia partner platforms), no synchronization with third-party tools (via SSO, CRM, marketing automation, accounting).
If the platform wishes to be internationalized, it would then be necessary to carry out a double maintenance of the applications like for the functional evolution, for each country in which the platform would be available.
In order to respond to these various problems: managing increases in traffic loads, developing a mobile application, increasing the visibility of the platform and improving its turnover, the integration of an API and the development of applications using the same back office will make it possible in particular to manage different countries.
In our example, this audit defined 3 objectives:
- Reduce technical costs down to 50%
- Save time on day-to-day platform management with better tools and scalable technology
- Improve user experience on the streaming service
A scalable service makes it possible to reply to future demands: development of new means of monetization via different channels (mobile, smart TV, STB apps), offering some video content on third-party websites, internationalizing the site for other countries, offering a new video player...
Teams developing SaaS solutions such as Kinow have the technical expertise to respond to a video platform audit and provide concrete answers to structural flaws. If the result of the study implies a change of provider, then a second step is added: the migration of data (videos, content, customer accounts...), the redesign of the graphic identity in terms of UX and UI and the integration of APIs.
Find soon our article on "Technical provider: migration of a streaming service".
Do you want to deploy or improve your streaming service? We can help you to carry out a complete technical audit. Contact our experts!
*Source: CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée)