NAGRA Blog: Making Android TV Work for You - Part One: A Look at the Opportunities and Challenges

By Simon Trudelle, Senior Director Product Marketing​

If you are a pay-TV operator or content owner and asking yourself whether or not Android TV is the way to go – you’re not alone. With more than 1 million device activations every two months and more than 3,000 TV and video apps in the Android Play Store, Android TV can no longer be ignored. And that’s just the beginning.  According to research from S&P Global Market Intelligence, “worldwide shipments of android TV devices, including STB and smart televisions, are projected to increase from 7.6 million in 2016 to 40.1 million in 2021.”

In the first installment of our two part blog series, let’s examine the impact Android TV can have on the pay-TV market?

What are the benefits for operators?

Launched in 2014 as a replacement to Google TV, Android TV had a slow start until significant licensing and packaging changes were made to satisfy service providers, leading to the launch of the Android TV Operator Tier solution.  The new versions present many benefits to pay-TV operators, including:

  • Widespread access to apps and services. Operators want to give their subscribers access to a world of content. Android TV gives them access to thousands of apps and games, including a mix of linear and on-demand content, and access to some of the most popular streaming apps (Netflix, Hulu and their equivalents in other geographies). And because it is based on the Android mobile OS, developers can develop once and port to Android TV, minimizing developments costs, and allowing consumers to enjoy the same rich UEX they’ve come to expect on mobile phones, on their TVs.
  • Retain subscribers’ attention on HDMI 1. Access to competing OTT services makes it tempting for subscribers to move away from HDMI 1 (a.k.a. the input used for the operator controlled STB). Providing a wide range of content, both broadcast and OTT, and a top-notch user experience as enabled by Android TV helps operators reduce churn by keeping customers in the operator branded environment.
  • Boost user engagement. Advanced STBs with rich user experiences are crucial to increase engagement levels amongst subscribers. With Android, experiences like voice control and Google Cast (sending content from a mobile device to the STB) can improve the user experience (UX).
  • Expand monetization opportunities. Whether it’s through its own content catalogue or by setting up partnerships with OTT app providers, Android TV allows service providers to create video services that drive consumption and monetization of content.
  • Reduce time to market. Using the different features packaged as off-the-shelf offering in an Android solution, operators can speed up the time to market for advanced STB propositions.  STB vendors and integrators have also developed hybrid propositions, allowing operators to leverage existing broadcast infrastructure as well as IP-based content delivery.

But with all the advantages an Android TV solution presents, there are still challenges.

While Android TV’s flexibility and extensive range of features make it a popular choice for pay-TV operators wanting to deploy the next generation of hybrid services, they also create a large attack surface for pirates. The additional functionality, large developer base and the fact that it is ‘always on’ (connected to the Internet), make it more complex to protect and more vulnerable to untrusted apps and hackers. 

Live broadcast content such as sports is premium content that requires an extra level of security in order to conform to the content owners’ security demands and protect the business model of the service provider. Therefore, proper attention and care must be taken when designing a secure platform for Android on STBs.

NAGRA uses Trusted Execution Environments (TEE) available in STB chipsets (generic TEE or NAGRA proprietary advanced solution) to secure Conditional Access and DRM media decryption.  NAGRA has also developed further security techniques to ensure that the application environment in Android TV is isolated from the secure media path, minimizing the STB’s attack surface for pirates trying to capture and restream content from the STB for instance.  Watermarking can also be implemented to meet enhanced content protection security requirements for 4K UHD content.

Above and beyond these content security challenges, the Android TV solution, being naturally focused on the client device framework, still has to be embedded in an end-to-end TV solution to transform it into a compelling TV experience that engages an audience and drives monetization.

With these opportunities and hurdles in mind, Part Two in our Android TV blog series unveils the best practices in selecting the right Android TV distribution and deployment option for you.

Contact us to learn more about making Android TV work for you and how we can help!