Published June 17th, 2020
The streaming video market is fiercely competitive and heavily dominated by a few key players. However, over the past few months, smaller, niche services have witnessed phenomenal growth as people seek out new live and on-demand content to keep them entertained.
In episode 3 of the #In Conversation With… video series, Ryan Chanatry, General Manager of Topic, the new streaming video service from First Look Media, reveals how by complimenting vs competing with the streaming giants, the service is creating a strong following of “Culture Cravers” looking for new perspectives and viewing experiences.
Hosted by Craig Kierce and recorded from home, we hope you enjoy watching and invite you to check out Ryan’s blog on the subject here.
There is much debate around the future of
TV, from both a production and consumption perspective. One thing is clear,
however, that while we mostly take the User Interface of our TV and video
services for granted, it is often a key deciding factor when the time comes to
renew our subscription(s).
In a recent interview published for International Women's Day, hosted by Women in Streaming Media, Peggy Dau, Founder & Managing Partner, MAD Perspectives, and Yujin Joung, UI Designer at 24i, discuss the often hidden importance of UI design for TV and streaming services. The lively and informative discussion covers:
1: UI/UX is gaining a lot of attention with the increased number of OTT services. Why is UI/UX important to pay-TV and OTT Providers?
As we already know, today the market is very competitive and fast-growing. Service providers need to build their own clear strategy for UI/UX in order to retain their customers. We can help them by creating distinguished features that users love to have. We look at the market trends and see if they are relevant to our clients based on their users and their own content. For example, let’s look at autoplay. This is when the video service automatically starts playing the next episode when you are watching a TV series. There is no need to manually select the next episode. If all services don’t have this same feature, subscribers will get annoyed by the services that don’t have it. This is a good example where the UI/UX anticipates the user’s needs. This small feature improves the general perception of the product.
Why has the UI/UX design with rows of images become the "standard"
for video services?
I think the rows of images started from the experience at the movie theatre when you see posters next to each other on the wall. We wanted to provide a similar experience which was the start of a trend that has become the standard.
We are more attracted to visual images than text. Images are easy to consume because they require less cognitive effort. Big images are more eye-catching than long boring texts. I believe the same to be true for video services. TV is a visual platform, not made for reading text. Instead, TV is mostly made for consuming media. Therefore, we need to make an easier and more usable product for the content.
3: What's new in UI/UX design?
There is a lot of focus on personalizing
the user experience. Artificial Intelligence helps to understand your profile
and what you like to watch. You see relevant content directly from the
homepage, instead of using the menu to find what you’re looking for. The
content comes to you, instead of you going to the content. The product can
understand how you use it, and adapts its interface.
One of my colleagues gave me an amazing example of this. He has a video app and uses the same channel every Monday. This app collects the data about what and when he watches. The app now shows the same channel every Monday for him. That’s really impressive. Just imagine how this will evolve in the future.
Why is UI/UX important to consumers?
I think I can explain this with my personal experience. Recently I wanted to get more fit and I was looking for a fitness app which allows me to choose any kind of gym. So, I decided to download a few of them and just compare which one I want to use.
In one app, it was hard to understand what’s what; in general, it was just too difficult to use. I tried to use the map function which would allow me to see the nearest gym, but the result was just a chaos of data and images. Also, the look and feel of the app felt old, which made me wonder if the information provided by the app would be trustworthy. The content of an app is very important, but how we present it is also crucial. UI/UX helps consumers to experience the app in the best possible way. This is why UI/UX is important.
5: What's important as we move ahead?
Users all behave differently and experience
products in their own way. We need to keep looking for new solutions and
technologies to improve the experience.
There must be a "wow" experience when they start to use the product. We need to make the user instantly fall in love with the services we create. Beautiful graphic design, playful animations, and easy interaction are examples of ways to impress the users.
May 06, 2020
By Ramon Duivenvoorden, Chief Commercial Officer at 24i
The key to producing consumer products cost-effectively is mass-customization. We’ve certainly come a long way since you could have a Ford in any colour as long as it’s black, but a modern car manufacturer will not give you a huge number of product variables – yes, you can choose a colour other than black, and you’ll be able to buy a sports pack, or upgrade the in-car entertainment system, but the car OEM will probably decide whether the model you want has a spoiler!
In many ways, software development has followed a similar path – the developer has decided what the solution set should be for a given problem, built a product around that solution set and allowed some level of customization around that.
Over time, additional features are required that go beyond the level of customization allowed in the original product specification. Pretty quickly under this development paradigm, the client has a system that’s no longer based on a solid code-base, so it cannot benefit from roadmap upgrades, shared innovation and maintenance. At the same time, they also have a system that lacks the benefits of custom development such as full control over code and feature set.
This is how media entertainment apps have traditionally been developed, and we think it’s broken. Fortunately, there’s another way.
Over the last 2 or 3 years, we’ve striven to base 24i product development on what we call Customer Centric principles.
As you might guess the overarching philosophy is to put the customer first, but in reality, what does this actually mean?
We’ve boiled this down to a number of principles that we adhere to in how we think about s/w development and build products, as follows:
So, how does this work in practice? As an example, one of our clients wanted to move from a profit to a non-profit model. The consumers using their app could move from a subscription model to a ‘single charitable donation for life’ model. There are complex rules that have to be adhered to when you’re accepting charitable donations – if this customer had been with a traditional developer, the switch would have needed a lot of new code, too much time and money, and potentially compromise the architectural integrity of the application. This is assuming they did not select an out-of-the-box vendor that would simply decline the request for the new flows.
Because our app was built on micro-services, with a minimum of dependency between the services, we were able to replace the components that needed to change and make the switch in weeks. More importantly, we enabled this change without a branch in the client’s code, so that moving forward they continue to gain from future 24i product roadmap developments.
I believe that sooner or later virtually every client has specific needs that are critical for their business. Yet, at the same time, most requirements are common between all streaming media businesses. Our Customer Centric approach based upon micro-services means that we can deliver scale, innovation and stability on these common needs, while offering the freedom to break free for that custom 5% that enables our customers to set themselves apart from the competition or fulfill unique business needs.
We know that customer-centric development based upon micro-services is the way to go – but it’s not necessarily obvious to potential customers how great an advantage this is, until they need to make a key pivot in business model, or another customized change is the one that breaks this particular camel’s back. Which is why I’m writing this blog!
If you would like to know more about our approach to Customer Centric development, please get in touch - and look out for upcoming blogs from 24i CTO Pavel Jacko who will discuss the technical principles in more depth.
Contact us today to find out 24i can help you scale and extend your OTT streaming services
May 15, 2020
It is no surprise that video streaming services are experiencing exceptional growth while lockdowns around the world keep people at home where they want to be entertained. Netflix added 16 million new accounts in the first three months of the year and niche video services such as BroadwayHD, Topic and Pure Flix, have also seen a significant increase in streams and subscriptions.
In the first of our own video series In
Conversation… , Martijn van Horssen, CEO and co-founder of 24i shares insights on
why some media companies are doing better than others during the Corona crisis,
- The 'Watch Party' effect and other smart marketing tactics
- The AVOD challenge and SVOD opportunity
- Scaling services for peak demand and growth and
- How 24i is supporting customers and employees during this testing time.
Hosted by Craig Kierce and produced from home, we hope you enjoy watching this honest and open interview and we look forward to bringing you the next episode of In Conversation soon.
Jul 29, 2020
This week we are celebrating the launch of our all-new Video Experience Platform. In the latest episode of the ‘In Conversation With…’ video series, Pim Verbij, VP Product at 24i, explains the ins and outs of the new platform.
The Video Experience Platform in short, is the latest evolution in the 10+ years 24i has spent innovating the video experience. Over the past years, 24i has developed and released applications on many devices, including, but not limited to: web; mobile; SmartTV, consoles and Set Top Boxes. The Video Experience platform is the logical successor to all that experience amassed over the years.
Being able to deliver apps at a quick pace (fast time to market/revenue), while still being highly configurable and scalable, lies at the heart of what the Video Experience Platform offers. It is a combination of technology, a way of thinking and a way of working, all in order to accelerate how we develop and publish video applications to market. But what exactly does that mean? Let’s break it down.
When you read the subtitle above, you might begin to wonder what I mean with this. Why the Three Musketeers? That’s exactly what the Video Experience Platform is: a combination of three products, that combined, make the ultimate video experience.
Going top to bottom, you obviously need a website and apps, that will be used by your users. That’s where the Smart Apps product comes in. Comprised of a single code base for all types of devices, and heavily relying on microservices and ready-to-use components; we leverage the Smart Apps product to quickly setup and create applications.
So now you have your app. But what does the app look like, how do you position and display content in such a way that it attracts users and keeps them on your platform? That’s where the second musketeer comes into play: Backstage. Simply put: Backstage is a CMS and integration manager that allows you to configure almost every aspect of your application. You can adjust the branding, determine the content shown, and even leverage partner-integrations in order to get the most out of your application.
Finally, you obviously need to make sure that there is actual video content making their way to your apps. That’s the third musketeer: Smart Video. Whether you need Video on Demand, Live Video, Catchup and many more; Smart Video is there to handle any type of content.
Which brings us to the D’Artagnan of this story: the actual video content. The series and movies that your customers have grown to love and adore. The goal of the Video Experience Platform is in that sense also very simple. We don’t want you to worry about setting up apps, branding, or delivery of that video content. That’s what we do for you. Allowing you to fully focus on making sure that your users are getting the content they deserve.
The Video Experience Platform is not done, and it never will be. Like technology in general, we are continually evolving and adapting to the changes in the market. This allows our customers to continiously leverage the latest and greatest features offered by the platform.
People usually say that change isn’t always easy. That is however a key thought behind this platform. We want to change, we want to evolve and adapt. And that’s where the key architecture behind the platform comes into play. Everything is setup to be interchangeable, through the use of microservices.
As an example, the platform comes with recommendations built-in. We take user data, make some calculations and recommended content comes rolling out. There are however companies specialised in only that: recommendations. Our microservices architecture allows us to quickly switch between various recommendation engines. The input will still be used data, and the output will still be recommended content. In between is however a different microservice, that calculates the recommendations in a different way, leveraging the partner implementation. By switching between these microservices, the entire platform still continues to work as expected, but you are now using a completely different recommendation engine. Simple as that.
24i has always been at the forefront of the field. Over the past decade we have created many applications, where the focus has always been on delivering the best app-experience for the end-users. That remains unchanged. The Video Experience Platform only aims to accelerate that behaviour.
The experience from the past decade has shown us what is exactly needed from things like the backend, that we know are working well in the front-end apps. By having complete control over the entire video chain (from content ingestion to front-end application), we are able to deliver a seemless experience across all platforms. Each aspect of the Video Experience Platform is developed in such a way, that end users get the best experience.
We do however still want to offer maximum configurability. Apps should look exactly how you want them to look, and should present content in such a way that we know is working for your end-users. That’s why the platform caters to both aspects of the field. We make sure that end-users get the content in the best way possible, meanwhile enabling you to configure the apps in every way you see fit.
Short time to market, offering the entire video chain in a single package, end-user focused and with maximum configurability options; the Video Experience Platform aims to make things easy for you. We don’t want you to have to worry about getting your apps live on time, or having to resubmit applications only to change a little image. That’s what the platform handles for you. And it’s all ready for use. Right now.
If the video, or this accompanying blog, has interested you in the platform and are you keen to learn more? Feel free to get in contact so we can have a chat about the possibilities available to you or download the 24i Video Experience Platform brochure for more details.
This blog is also published on Medium by Matthijs Langendijk