An Unsolicited Streaming App Spec

John Siracusa:

I subscribe to a lot of streaming video services, and that means I use a lot of streaming video apps. Most of them fall short of my expectations. Here, then, is a simple specification for a streaming video app. Follow it, and your app will be well on its way to not sucking.

This spec includes only the basics. It leaves plenty of room for apps to differentiate themselves by surprising and delighting their users with clever features not listed here. But to all the streaming app developers out there, please consider covering these fundamentals before working on your Unique Selling Proposition.

Siracusa is not kidding: this is the lowest possible bar for a streaming app, yet it is hard to find one that could pass.

It reminded me of something from not too long ago. We had just finished watching a recent Marvel movie in the Disney Plus app on our Apple TV, and were waiting for the post-credits scene to play. But midway through the credits, the screen changed to a view where the video was playing at a thumbnail size and there were a couple of onscreen buttons. We tried scrubbing over to the thumbnail to return it to a fullscreen view, but it was not selectable. One of the buttons was marked “Play Movie” or something similar, so we clicked on that one thinking it would let us play it from where we left off, but it restarted the movie. So we scrubbed to the very end where we could see the post-credit scene, pressed play, and it immediately shrank to that thumbnail screen with two buttons.

This is a Marvel movie — a movie where scenes in and after the credits are entirely normal — playing in the parent company’s app. And, as far as I can figure out, there is simply no way to watch the post-credit scene.