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Leveraging the full power of streaming analytics

Why streaming services need an analytics tool that combines video and app analytics, by Rubén Senor-Megias, chief sales officer, NPAW

The video streaming industry as a whole is booming. Yet, individual services are starting to feel the effects of increased competition; even the biggest ones.

Netflix recently announced its first loss of subscribers in a decade, citing high market penetration and the rise of rival services as the main culprits. But the impact of growing competition goes beyond lost users. Our data shows that, globally, video-on-demand (VoD) services experienced an average nine per cent drop in daily playtime per user in 2021.

The message is clear: viewers have a limited amount of time to devote to video content, and only the best content and user experiences can keep them engaged. If one of these two areas fails, the consumer simply switches to another platform. As it is often said in the industry, content is king, but user experience is queen, and it is becoming increasingly important to differentiate your service from the rest.

In this context, streaming providers must ensure they are making the most of their service at all times. Leveraging the full power of streaming analytics is the only way to do so. 

However, most streaming companies still rely on separate tools for video analytics (i.e. insights into how video is consumed and experienced from the end user’s perspective) and application analytics; insights about the video app’s performance and how users navigate it. This leaves them with a fragmented view of their quality of service and experience and their user interface and experience landscape. 

That should change. The evolution of streaming analytics into a tool combining sources into one harmonised tool is needed to reduce complexity and increase the consumption of services.

One single source of video-specific data

Relying on separate video analytics and app analytics platforms causes many problems. These range from the obvious (e.g. having to pay for two tools instead of one) to the more complex; correlating disparate data sources and aligning internally.

Like a driver behind the wheel, video streaming providers need to focus on the road ahead. To do so, all the information they require to operate needs to be in the same place and easily accessible. You wouldn’t want your speedometer and fuel gauge to be on opposite sides of the car; it’s the same with streaming analytics.

And, with one tool for both video and app analytics, streaming services can benefit from having a single source of truth. There is no time wasted trying to put together user information that is collected differently, no arguing over which platform’s numbers are the most accurate.

Furthermore, all teams, from content management to app development, can work together based on the same data. The fragmentation of communication, not only of tooling, is reduced for faster time to market and resolution of problems.

Additionally, while video analytics tools are built, as the name suggests, with video in mind, most app analytics tools in the market are not made specifically for video streaming services. Working with application-related insights that are not that relevant to online video playing and discovery is, of course, far from ideal.

Visibility into the entire user journey

An analytics tool that combines video and application monitoring also provides you full visibility into your user’s journey.

With separate tools, it can be very hard or impossible to link video and application events to one user. User IDs cannot be matched across platforms, leaving streaming services with a fragmentary picture of the user’s experience and how to improve on it.

With separate tools, you cannot put together how a user got to a specific piece of content, what happened while the video was playing, and if that had any effect on what the user did next.

Knowing in real time exactly how users interact with and experience the platform gives streaming services the ability to tweak their apps and content to meet their viewers’ needs. And that is true for both usage and performance-related insights.

From a usage perspective, they can understand how their customers move through the app – what features they use the most, how they discover new content, etc – and what content they prefer to watch and how they watch it; content type, long or short sessions, how many titles or episodes per session, etc.

Equipped with that information, service providers can add or modify sections of their app to promote engagement and make it easier to discover new content. They can also make informed content investments and distribute resources more efficiently.

On the other hand, and from a performance standpoint, streaming companies get to see what features or user actions are making the app crash or become slower. But also how video playback performs and what errors are impacting it; and that leads us to the final point.

Identify the root cause of errors and reduce churn

Determining what is causing a problem can be quite tricky with disparate or incomplete sources of video and app insights. With a tool that offers both video and app analytics, you can instantly identify the root cause of any issues impacting your end user’s experience.

No more guessing if it’s a particular piece of content, the user’s device or the app’s code that is making a session crash; or maybe it was the Internet service provider? The CDN?

Having this level of detail is extremely helpful to all your teams, but especially for customer care. Support representatives can see precisely where the problem is without having to interpret the symptoms a customer reports when reaching out for help.

Issue resolution is sped up, and support calls are shortened. Streaming services can achieve higher levels of user satisfaction while reducing their customer support bills.

Plus, providers can take a more proactive approach to troubleshooting, addressing issues before users complain or a larger part of the user base is affected.

The whole operational landscape is changing, and suppliers can now work with anonymised real-time data to reduce complexity and the need for finger-pointing when problems occur.