Why Android TV™ Pie should be your choice right now

Ever since its introduction to the market, Android TV has been seen by many as the next big thing when it comes to TV experience. It took a little longer than expected, but finally, Android TV has established itself as the go-to platform for TV Operators, up to a point it is now defining new industry standards.

WeTek
WeTek
Dec 6, 2018 · 8 min read
Android TV is much more than Android on TV, especially on its Pie flavor

Companies like WeTek saw this potential right from the beginning and are now riding the Android TV wave, ready to bring you into this ecosystem. Yes, Android TV is much more than Android on TV, especially on its Pie flavor.

Google’s first steps with a big screen gave birth to Google TV, launching it in 2010 with very little traction at the time. It combined the Android operating system with the Chrome browser to deliver an interactive experience over content. It was only in 2014 that Google launched an evolution, solely based on Android 5.0 Lollipop, but focused on big screen devices, calling it Android TV. The first device released was the Nexus Player developed in partnership with ASUS to which the Nvidia Shield shortly followed.

Another big breakthrough came with the 6.0 Marshmallow version of Android TV, coinciding with many TV manufacturers choosing Android TV as the operating system for their smart TVs. At the Same time, we saw the introduction of important libraries that allowed PVR and PiP (Picture-in-Picture) together with the maturing of the Leanback library, which allowed easier implementation of user interfaces.

Last but surely not least, the Channel API together with a TV Input Framework (AKA TIF) allowed application developers to expose their content directly on the operating system’s launcher and search tool.

Channel API + TIF allow app developers to expose content directly on the launcher

Then came Android TV 7.0 Nougat and now all devices are updating to Android TV Oreo™, so we can only expect good things from the Android TV Pie version, and Google is surely delivering it. This latest version improved the overall pricing structure of BOM without sacrificing a single ounce of performance, being now able to run it from a starting point as low as 1GB of RAM. Android TV Pie was designed to focus on TV Operators, offering them a new set of tools specific to the business that we will describe below.


Why Android TV is the better option?

It’s a ready to go platform

Android TV brings a lot of advantages and options to the video distribution universe. For example, middleware integration works much faster, which means that development cycles on a new CPE device are up to 60% shorter, allowing for a quicker time to market.

Also, the longevity of devices running Android TV is prolonged, with CPEs having longer life cycles before being deemed legacy — the Nexus Player, for instance, was launched in 2014 and is still running on Android TV 8.0 Oreo™. You must also keep in mind that Android is an already familiar product to clients, being present on their smartphones and tablets, maybe even owning other Android TV devices.

Android TV allows Operators to expand their business

Operators interested in investing in IoT as well as home automation scenarios, can now have complete integration with the Google Home ecosystem, right out of the box.

When it comes to the integrations of 3rd party offerings into the CPE, it requires certifications and other time-consuming tasks. Operators can now avoid all that thanks to Android TV Pie.

Google already offers certified apps via their Play Store (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.) and users simply need to install them, never feeling the need to escape the CPE ecosystem and moving to other devices like smart TVs or other input sources.

There are loads of form factors and possibilities for CPE hardware running Android TV, and when it comes to operators that have to deal with more than one, trough time they can all be running under the same Android TV solution, independent of their hardware spec and even the Android TV version they are running. Reducing development and support threads to only one is a major saving in operational costs for the operator. The same applies to future and more advanced CPEs.

Android TV supports:

  • Full IPTV or Hybrid (IPTV+DVB) CPE
  • LAN, WiFi, Mobile or no connectivity
  • CPEs can assume the form of a traditional STB, Android TV dongle, smart Android TV or Android TV soundbar

UI/UX in Pie is now fully customizable

The default home screen app can be configured so that the operator content apps are the first listed and their curated content shows up on the first row of home screen channels. This can also be accomplished while searching for content, giving the operator an advantage by highlighting his contents on all contexts of the operating system.

Operators can fully customize their Android TV experience, keeping the strength of the presence of their brands well marked in the user experience
  • Operator can control first two apps in Favorites row, at any time. [User cannot (re)move these]
  • Operator can “pin” first Channel as part of out-of-box config
    [User cannot (re)move this]
  • Operator can set custom background image, and update periodically
  • Plus all existing home screen customization options

The operator has the possibility to have its custom home screen app instead of the default, maintaining branding and listing all of his content directly on the home screen, with even more and more personalized highlights and search contexts.

Operator tier home screen example
Personalized highlights and search contexts

Google Assistant at your service

Because Android TV Pie comes with Google Assistant embedded, users can perform actions using voice commands, giving them full control over the device where Android TV is deployed as well as companion devices/apps. On Android TV Pie Google allows the setup of specific operator related assistant interactions for all kinds of scenarios:

  • Search
  • Playback control
  • Deeplinking
  • Recommendations
With Google Assistant, users can perform actions using voice commands

Android TV Pie brings new monetization scenarios to grow your business

Using Android TV, operators can further improve on their monetization options with models that can be used separately or combined:

Direct Content Partnerships — Operators can partner up with leading content players (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.) and offer their apps to their users as a part of tiered subscription packages. Many app publishers offer attractive deals over this module, as it helps dissemination and client fidelity.

Operators can partner up with leading content players

Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) — DCB for Android TV is easy and intuitive as users no longer have to upload their credit card information in order to buy apps or any other kind of content. Purchases are grouped together and billed along with the operator service.

Direct Carrier Billing (DCB)

Play Movies Partnership — You can bring a premium movie experience to your users with a Google-operated transactional movie store, providing the newest and best content in all available formats. All of this is already fully integrated within Android TV, with no additional operational costs for partners, and with each purchase having a percentage directed to the operator.

Play Movies Partnership

Ads — Global Pay TV revenue is shrinking and TV ad budgets are migrating to online video. As more Pay TV gets delivered over Hybrid and IP, its inventory can either be sold by TV or online Video. Android TV gives operators the opportunity to capture advertisers by funneling their ads towards the right demographics and showing them with the content they see fit. This presents a unique symbiotic relationship that other business models simply can’t provide.

Ads

Android TV promotes new user case scenarios and allows you to understand your user behavior with ease

Android TV provides APIs that facilitate new ways of interacting with content, from allowing in-content metadata for new scenarios for content discovery and recommendations to very easy to use sync and pairing mechanisms with other household devices that allow second screen interactions.

Also because all Android TV devices are Chromecast enabled, it has never been so easy to cast content from your OTT mobile apps to the big screen.

If you combine all of this to the power of Firebase Analytics, you can track and monitor your users’ behavior with the assurance that the user privacy concerns are all addressed and you are GDPR compliant.

Firebase Analytics dashboard

Android TV is ready for any content type with no performance compromises

In the eyes of operators, who are looking forward to deploy Android TV based set-top boxes for their Pay-TV services, a few things should immediately ring some bells, like MediaCAS and Widevine CAS.

With Widevine DRM we have a CS version to fit with IPTV support and any type of broadcast

For those of you who already know Widevine DRM, it should be no surprise to know that we now have a CS version to fit with IPTV support (Multicast, MPEG-TS) and any type of broadcast, such as Satellite, Cable and Terrestrial.

Keeping in mind that both Widevine DRM and Widevine CAS are studio approved content protection for both HD and Ultra HD content, this should put a smile on many faces of people in the industry.

Even when you’re using any other CAS solution, having MediaCAS will make integration much easier and faster.

So it doesn’t matter if the content is linear, recorded or on-demand or if the Operator broadcasts and/or unicasts their content, one size fits all: IPTV, DVB, ATSC, etc.

When it comes to performance, Android TV Pie supports hardware acceleration, providing smooth graphics over the interface and incredible UX experiences, this allows for a seamless transition from the Android smartphones they are used to. It also supports the latest video and audio codecs (zHE/AAC, h.264, h.265 HEVC, VP9, AV1, etc.) on resolutions up to 4K, with support for 10bits color and HDR+. Not to mention that it can run on devices with a RAM as low as 1GB.


So, how do I move to Android TV?

If you are an operator that already provides content through an Android app, or you are simply moving from a legacy Linux based CPE, then offering Android TV to your clients seems like a natural step, one that is as easy as porting it to the Android TV ecosystem, and here at WeTek, we are more than glad to help you with that.

If, on the other hand, you are an operator that is planning to make the move to offer content through OTT and mobile apps, now is the best time to do so. Android TV can be an important sell point to drive clients your way. Moving to Android TV, unlike moving to other CPEs, can be as easy as developing another Android app, everything else is provided right from the get-go by Google.


Android TV is a trademark of Google LLC.

The Launcher

Prime news about tech innovation within the Android TV and Content Delivery industries

WeTek

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WeTek

WeTek develops video distribution solutions and Android TV/AOSP customized hybrid DVB/IPTV/OTT set-top box turnkey software for pay-TV operators & broadcasters

The Launcher

Prime news about tech innovation within the Android TV and Content Delivery industries