All you need to know about Android TV™ Operator Tier
Ask any operator or service provider and 2 times out of 3 you’ll have the same answer: Android TV will be the go-to platform by 2020.
Following our previous article “Why Android TV™ Pie should be your choice right now”, we will now dive into what can be described as the most important feature Google can offer to TV operators: Android TV — Operator Tier.
Google launched its “Operator Tier” certification program back in September 2016, allowing operators to distribute their own custom devices based on the Android TV platform. The industry applauded the initiative, as it allowed for a more immersive experience on their state of the art hardware, while opening their platform to other regional players available through Google Play. Fast forward to present day and Google’s Operator Tier program can now offer an easy way to integrate all offerings from a TV provider directly into the operating system. We will show that Operator Tier is much more than just a customized Android TV application launcher.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at what we can do, using Any as a totally customizable dummy operator example:
The user should now be able to install the device with no hassle nor required technician assistance. With Operator Tier we can define the onboarding experience for the first device boot (including boot animations). A flow of easily available steps working as a guide to set up various things, like remote pairing, Wi-Fi setup or cable connection and other useful functionalities. This makes for an engaging and cost-efficient deployment from a TV Operator’s standpoint.
If the TV Operator has the ability to control other household CPE features, like the internet router, for example, the self-install process can be easily extended. As an example, if the operator deploys a specific hidden SSIDs for self install, he can customize the device’s ROM to connect to such SSIDs at the first boot, so the device can get its household Wi-Fi configuration or other provisioning related information, like service account ids or user/profile information. The user would just plug in the device and be connected without the need for any action.
Provisioning, activation and authentication
Unlike Android TV in its stock form, where one would need to manage authentication in the context of its own app, with Android TV Operator Tier we can customize the first-time usage flows and ROM parameters. Once connected, the device can manage its own provisioning and/or activation via API, becoming ready to provide TV services without any client or technician interaction.
Acceptance of service terms and conditions can be done by the user at this point, continuing a seamless onboarding experience.
If the operator binds service account rights directly to the device, the initial flow can skip the authentication step, taking the user directly to content consumption.
User authentication can be requested during onboarding and later on, but in any case, because we are in a Google ecosystem, we can give the user the possibility to login with its Google account, binding it with other Android TV Google services like YouTube Music, YouTube TV, the Google Play Family Library, Google Play Music, Google One and likewise apps.
If the TV Operator provides companion apps to its clients the authentication process can also be completed through the app by re-using credentials and/or avoiding TV inputs that are always less practical than on the smartphone.
Once logged into one account the user has its own profile or can select from several other service account profiles. In a future article, we will take a deeper dive into profiling, showing how it is possible to create more interesting and meaningful ways to select and manage user profiles with Android TV Operator Tier.
Once we have a profile selected we can track user behavior, manage their preferences and bookmarks, as well as give more personal recommendations. The difference with Android TV Operator Tier is that we can do all this directly from the Android TV UI/UX and not just inside the TV Operator app context like it would be with stock Android TV. Using Firebase Analytics we can track which apps were most used and installed, the device usage sessions, universal searches, together with the usual metrics (screens, playback, etc).
In the article “Why Android TV™ Pie should be your choice right now” we said Google allows TV Operators to configure the default Android TV launcher by highlighting its applications and search results and even deliver its own Home Launcher app through the Operator Tier. When it comes to UI/UX Android TV Operator Tier is much more than just a simple customized launcher application. Instead, it allows a total fusion between TV Operator offering/services and Android TV. This is very important, because in many markets what distinguishes one TV Operator from another is how he constructs a great user experience for its clients.
- Launcher menu takes it all out of the box: because we can customize the launcher, we can bring what would be the TV Operator main app options to the operating system home menu. Every time the user exits an app, boots the device or simply opens the Android TV menu, he will be exposed to the operator offering, which can increase the chances of identifying a relevant content to watch, specially if the TV Operator provides a personal area with profile-relevant content.
- Direct access to TV Guide and Recordings: with Operator Tier the user can access the TV Guide directly from the Android TV, so checking what is airing now or aired inside the catch-up time window was never easier.
The user can also access the recordings section to access all recorded content, together with its own personal recordings.
- Highlighted OnDemand offering: OnDemand content is now available directly from the Android TV main menu, increasing its exposure to the user which, in turn, can be translated into a higher satisfaction rate and the possibility of more rentals/purchases/subscriptions.
- Easy access to third-party apps: like on any other Android TV device, users can access their apps. The app channels are still available and can still be configured by the user like on any other Android TV device.
- Build amazing players: like the rest of the operating system, the TV Operator can customize its player layout to match the rest of the UI/UX. From allowing audio/subtitles language options to more extensive scenarios, there are no limits for what the TV Operator can create.
- Taking advantage of Android TV as MAP (Media Aggregation Platform): Android TV is by nature an aggregator of content (either video, games or others) and therefore it is oriented to content discovery via search and assistance. This trend pushed by the rise of OTT services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Youtube TV and many others can also be verified on all other TV platforms, forcing us to think on a Content First user experience, where the content source takes second or third place in the equation. With Operator Tier the TV Operator can tap into the Android TV’s content discovery feature and enhance them into its advantage. Content sourced by the TV Operator can be highlighted on the search results and the TV Operator source will be made available when it exists.
- Metadata is key for content discovery: content metadata is gaining so much relevance it could have its own dedicated article. The more metadata the TV Operator provides the easier it will be to recommend relevant content towards the user. Content search and discovery use cases are totally customizable on Android Operator Tier. With Operator Tier we can customize the content cards and use the metadata as we please and see fit to provide the best experience.
Android TV already allows integration with Google Assistant and all home devices with Google Home by default, as well as companion integrations for 2nd screen and Chromecast enabled experiences.
With Android TV Operator Tier we can extend the default UI with specific use cases regarding companion apps and home devices:
- Companion apps: Operator Tier themed UI allows the TV Operator to deliver the experience on TV and mobile devices with the same exact look, feel and branding.
- Home devices: add a section for home devices or home device interactions and configurations to the main menu.
- Business: make use of more specific layouts for pushing notifications related to promos or other business related information. Add a support and help section to the launcher menu.
In a nutshell, Android TV Operator Tier gives the TV Operator all the possibilities Android TV has to offer but in a singular way, allowing the TV Operator to set itself apart from other operators running Android TV as well. It also allows for a better engagement and brand acknowledgment from the end user, potentiating business by highlighting the TV Operator content offering.
Here, at WeTek, we’ve been offering Android TV solutions for a while now and we’ve decided to further increase the knowledge base on such a hot topic by breaking it into simple examples and placing it in a simple fashion for everyone to access it.
If you wish to know more about this ecosystem, be sure to visit us.
Android TV is a trademark of Google LLC.