By Melanie Mayberry, programming editor

It’s become expected. A new streaming service launches and it doesn’t take long before it’s apologizing for various technical errors. For instance, HBO Max today morphed into just Max, leading to numerous subscribers having to complain about login issues and other problems. Roku owners who subscribed to HBO Max have had to upgrade their apps just to login, although Max officials never said that would be necessary.

A Max spokesperson today even acknowledged that it’s likely that a new app will have technical issues.

“You must always anticipate issues on a tech rollout of this scale,” the spokesperson told Variety.

But why? Why does this seem to happen every time a video streaming service starts up? Shouldn’t the streamer’s tech team iron out the glitches before launch and not after?

Remember when DIRECTV Stream had so many issues at first?

There are several reasons why a new streaming service has immediate technical snafus on launch day, including:

1. Scalability Challenges
One of the primary challenges faced by new video streaming apps is scaling their infrastructure to accommodate a sudden surge in user traffic. Even with meticulous planning and extensive load testing, it is nearly impossible to accurately predict the exact demand a new app will experience on its first day. Consequently, unforeseen spikes in user activity can strain servers and lead to performance issues, including slow buffering or even complete service interruptions.

2. Complex Backend Architecture
Video streaming apps require a robust and intricate backend architecture to deliver a seamless user experience. This includes content delivery networks (CDNs), transcoding services, and data storage systems, among others. Developing and implementing these components can be a complex task, and even small oversights or configuration errors can result in technical glitches during the initial launch. Identifying and addressing these issues often requires time and meticulous debugging.

3. Compatibility and Device Fragmentation
The diverse landscape of devices and operating systems adds another layer of complexity for new streaming apps. Each device and platform has its own set of technical specifications and requirements, ranging from screen resolutions and aspect ratios to media codecs and DRM (Digital Rights Management) compatibility. Ensuring seamless compatibility across multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles, presents a considerable challenge. It is not uncommon for new apps to encounter device-specific issues that require immediate attention and updates.

4. Network Infrastructure Variability
The quality and stability of the network infrastructure play a crucial role in the seamless streaming of video content. However, network conditions can vary significantly from one user to another, depending on factors such as location, internet service provider, and available bandwidth. New video streaming apps must account for these variables and optimize their content delivery strategies accordingly. Failure to do so can result in buffering, playback errors, or subpar video quality, thereby frustrating users.

5. Last-Minute Bug Discoveries
Despite rigorous testing and quality assurance efforts, it is common for developers to uncover bugs and issues only when the app is deployed to a large-scale production environment. The interaction of the streaming app with millions of users can reveal unforeseen software bugs, compatibility issues, or vulnerabilities that were not previously detected. Identifying and rectifying these issues promptly requires a swift response and agile development practices.

The launch day of a new video streaming app can be a rollercoaster ride for both developers and users alike. While these initial hiccups may frustrate users, it is important to acknowledge that such issues are not insurmountable and streamers usually solve the big issues relatively quickly.

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