Building Streaming Video Apps With HTML: Technical Considerations
In the Media & Entertainment industry, we have the unlucky situation of needing to handle quite a few more platforms than other neighboring industries. Consider that for most app developers, mobile and web are sufficient, meaning at most three codebases assuming native iOS and Android, though with diligent mobile web best practices this can all be folded under one web codebase. For most TV-connected devices like Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV, it really is only the media consumption use case that is compelling. The interaction medium of the remote, the distance from the screen, and the fixed location of the device limit other applications.
OTT’s Platform Density
At You.i TV we’ve observed that deviances between platforms, or “fragmentation”, has an exponential effect on complexity, rather than simply linear. That is to say, each factor that a developer must account for is multiplicative with the others rather than additive. Unfortunately, these problems are unavoidable for those in the OTT space. The expectation of the end-user is that it should not matter which device I have purchased (or was gifted!), I should be able to watch your content. This implies somewhere on the order of 5-15 platforms, depending on your market and willingness to chase the tail of the distribution. In North America, for example, OTT devices such as Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and next-gen consoles in PlayStation and Xbox are household staples. We’ve also seen that willingness to circumvent the norm of covering all platforms can entail risk with user reception. Take for example Quibi, which launched initially only mobile, later delivering on TV-connected devices around the same time as their closure.
Thus it falls to engineering management and teams to choose a technology strategy that will determine many factors for the upcoming development cycle of a streaming video app. Product Management will no doubt have high expectations. It might not be until mid-development that the downsides of a selection become apparent, just as you’re scaling from the first API connections, authentication, and playback into the full app experience.
With this pressure to choose correctly, it isn’t unreasonable for us to fall back on what we know. For many front-end developers that means either web or native. In the paper provided below, I’ll be focusing on the former, though it’s important to note that for many platforms, such as Samsung Tizen and LG webOS, they are in fact one and the same!
Specifically, I’d like to argue that because we often choose technologies that we are comfortable with, we are at risk of becoming blind to their drawbacks. We become accustomed to thinking of them in aggregate, rather than with the individual nuance that is inherent to cross-platform development. Let’s examine web (or HTML) development for multiscreen under this lens.
Download the free guide to Building Streaming Video Apps with HTML and learn more about browsers’ chances of success against:
- Platform reach (Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and next-gen consoles)
- Platform-specific APIs
- NPM Ecosystems
- Impact on developer experience
- User experience capabilities
- Performance scaling