From ad insertion to analytics, successful video streaming app developers focus on more than just the content. Here’s a roadmap to creating a successful app.
When Tim Cook introduced the new Apple TV in September by saying that “the future of TV is apps,” he was in Apple’s typical catch-up mode. TDG Research’s Joel Espelien said the future of TV is an app way back in 2013, and savvy video publishers have been pushing their content out via apps for years.
Still, Cook’s pronouncement adds weight to the notion that, if you’re a content owner who doesn’t yet have an app that works across multiple devices, it’s about time to fix that. We talked to experts across the gamut of the online video workflow to get their insights into what video publishers need to keep in mind as they create apps. And if you’ve already got an app, you might want to re-evaluate it in light of the suggestions that follow.
1. Define Your Product
“Create a crystal-clear consumer proposition for what it is that you are trying to achieve and stay laser-focused on that,” says Andrew Locke, vice president of product strategy at NBC News. ”Really think clearly about what that app on that platform is going to be used for.”
NBC News viewers want to be able to come in at 9:17 a.m. or 8:42 p.m. or 3 a.m. and not worry about what the broadcast schedule is or in what order they want to watch. So simply recreating the linear broadcast in an app wouldn’t serve viewers’ needs.
“Avoid relying too heavily on lessons that you have learned from the web, especially when it comes to something like an OTT platform such as Roku or an Apple TV,” Locke says. “A lot of the lessons are poorly applied if you switch platforms.”
Almost everyone we spoke to emphasized the importance of planning every aspect of app development carefully. While you can always modify something if something doesn’t work, building an app without planning out the necessary components can add significantly to costs.
“We’re Digital Natives at Newsy. I think a lot of the time broadcasters and traditional content creators think they can just slap something on an OTT device and people are going to watch it; that’s not always the case,” says Blake Sabatinelli, general manager of online news site Newsy. “You have to make something that fits the platform and fits the audience, and it has to be good.”
Compelling content is just one part of the story; a methodical approach to the technology behind the content is another vital factor. Viacom has a central product group tasked with bringing efficiencies to app development across brands.
“We provide components to all of the Viacom brands—Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., and we are on-boarding BET right now onto our video players as well,” says Daniel Balis, senior director of product for multiplatform video, MTS Global, Viacom. “It doesn’t make sense for all of these brands to be developing software components independently.”
Newsy’s app for the Apple TV. Newsy general manager Blake Sabatinelli emphasizes the importance of customizing each app for the platform it’s going to be viewed on, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
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