New S3 Group Survey Shows Pay TV Operators Embracing Role as Software Companies

- 50% are deploying multiscreen TV software releases more frequently in 2015 versus 2014

- 78% cited automated testing as the initiative that contributed most to accelerating software development timelines

- Major remaining obstacles include the volume and clarity of software requirements, end-device and head-end playback issues, and communications across development and operations teams

Aug 18, 2015, 04:30 ET from S3 Group

DUBLIN, Aug. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In advance of IBC 2015, S3 Group released results from a survey of nearly thirty U.S. and European pay TV operators and their key suppliers, which serve more than 77 million total subscribers, about efforts to become more nimble, software-oriented companies. The results show the pay TV industry both grappling with and embracing the best-practices of Web companies including DevOps, Agile, and Continuous Deployment

"Unlike yesteryear, pay TV providers' reliability and innovation is no longer driven by the physical plant, but rather by software code," said John Maguire, Chief Strategy Officer, TV Technology of S3 Group. "Video service providers are striving to shorten innovation cycles, test and launch services faster, and make updates more frequently. As our survey shows, this trend is pushing operators to realign their software lifecycle tools and organizational structure to balance the need for speed and stability."  

Key findings of S3 Group's TV Platforms 2015 Report:

  • 41% of respondents ranked service availability (ensuring services are properly configured and stable for end users) as their top priority, 32% rated speed as the top priority, and 27% cited efficiency as their top priority.
  • 50% are deploying multiscreen TV software releases more frequently in 2015, than during the same period in 2014.
  • Of those deploying software more frequently, 46% are increasing their number of software releases by more than 20% compared to 2014, 39% are increasing output between 11-20%, and 15% are increasing output by 10% or less.
  • 78% cited automated testing as having contributed to accelerating software development timelines, 63% cited the move to agile development practices, 35% cited automated deployment, 35% cited version control, and 21% cited configuration management. The two leading responses are likely interrelated, as test automation can contribute greatly to the success of agile, by reducing both integration and regression testing times, to improve software quality and speed of delivery.
  • Adoption of modern software practices is clearly present in the development teams of pay TV operators and their key suppliers. When asked to describe their current software development methodology, only 10% classified themselves as using the old waterfall methodology, while 38% identified their environments as agile, 48% as hybrid, and 4% as continuous development. However, the same respondents noted a disparity in methodology used for deployments into the field. Notably, the older waterfall methodology still represents 32% of the methodology, whereas agile represents 18%, hybrid 43%, and 7% is continuous development.
  • Historically, pay TV video service providers' software release cycles ranged from one to four releases annually. However, in 2014, 26% made more than one release per month on average – ranging from 13 to more than 50 releases annually. An additional 30% of operators made between five to 12 releases annually.
  • Testing capabilities are being modernized to handle the scale, pace, and diversity of video platforms. 13% of respondents said it takes less than one week to test a feature change once it has left development, before it is deployed. However, 67% said it still typically takes between a week and a month to test a feature change, and 13% noted it generally takes more than a month.
  • 25% said a software change or new feature can be deployed in less than one week, once it has been tested and approved, but 67% said it could take up to a month or more.
  • When asked to rank the key challenges to pay TV software release cycle times, the volume of requirements and the quality (clarity) of the requirements were noted as the two toughest obstacles. Specifically, 25% cited the number of requirements, 21% cited the quality of the requirements, 17% cited inefficient departmental communications, 17% cited the variety of devices and deployment environments, and 17% cited the availability of test infrastructure.
  • While 39% of respondents said they assemble teams from different functions (development, quality assurance, operations) to meet on a weekly basis to discuss video platform quality improvements, 30% still reported that they have no such regularly scheduled meetings, 22% said they meet monthly, 4% meet quarterly, and 5% meet annually.
  • End-device playback and head-end playout issues ranked as the top impediments to QoE (Quality of Experience) at 24% each, network distribution issues ranked 19%, and in-home network issues ranked 14%.

At IBC 2015, September 10-15 in Amsterdam, S3 Group will be in Hall 3, Stand B39, featuring its portfolio of StormTest® automation products and Professional Services with a focus on: Multiscreen Test Automation, 4K Test Automation, Live service QoE Testing, and Integration Services, including Reference Design Kit (RDK) migration support. S3 Group works with leading operators to continuously and actively test all stages of the service delivery lifecycle, in development and in production, to optimize the total user experience. Download the complete TV Platforms 2015 Report here.

About S3 Group | TV Technology:

S3 Group is a global leader at enhancing the performance and service readiness of video platforms across connected devices. In both development and production, S3 Group provides unique insights through service validation products and platform integration services for multiscreen deployments. S3 Group has more than 100 customers, across 28 countries, including: Astro, BT, Comcast, Kabel Deutschland, Liberty Global, Mediacom, NAGRA, Swisscom, Time Warner Cable, upc cablecom, RDK Management LLC, Sky, Videotron, and numerous others. Visit and for further information.

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