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NAGRA Blog: Making Android TV Work for You - Part Two: Choosing the Right “Flavor” of Android TV

By Simon Trudelle, Senior Director Product Marketing​


It is no surprise that a growing number of pay-TV operators are launching Android TV-based set-top boxes. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, this number is expected to grow significantly from 1.2 million unit shipments in 2016 to nearly 12 million in 2021. In Part One of our two-part blog series exploring Android TV and the pay-TV market, we gained a better understanding of the benefits and challenges every operator must consider when developing their business strategy. Part Two takes a deeper look at the best practices in selecting the right Android TV distribution and deployment option.

First, there are two main types of Android TV distributions available to pay-TV operators - Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and Android TV Operator Tier.

Each one has its own set of pros and cons in terms of the user experience, hardware and software requirements and, finally, security.  Both options can be extended to include support for hybrid broadcast-OTT services, allowing service providers to leverage their existing broadcast networks for linear TV while getting access to advanced OTT capabilities, from start-over and catch-up TV to the full range of Google Play Store media apps.

AOSP

Operators have control of apps and services being used on the device through an operator-controlled app store. They could potentially have a cheaper STB device with the freedom to control the user experience. This approach has limited to no costs in terms of future upgrade and maintenance.

The downside is high upfront project costs and longer timelines due to custom launcher development, integration of multiscreen interaction, voice interaction features and others. Staying away from regular maintenance upgrades leaves the operation vulnerable to security flaws. Managing expectations of subscribers that choose this Android STB proposition, expecting a high number of apps and games like that on the Google Play Store, will be a challenge for the operator.

Android TV Operator Tier

This option allows operators to take advantage of Google Media Services, including the massive content offering available via Google services like Play Store, and increased user engagement options with advanced interaction methods like Chromecast and the Google Assistant built-in. All of this comes at a relatively low level of complexity and effort, thanks to the reuse of several pre-built components in the Android TV stack. Those wanting to differentiate the UX can leverage the Operator Tier launcher, taking advantage of white-label offerings. Additionally, well specified hardware, with regular Android updates, extends the lifecycle of the STB with increasing monetization opportunities. Android TV mandates Widevine and PlayReady DRMs in the STB, ensuring smooth integration of third party OTT services.  NAGRA CONNECT, a next-generation CAS, DRM and WM security client, can also be deployed, allowing service providers to get all the benefits of an operator-controlled security solution.

The key concerns are the cost of advanced STB hardware and the future maintenance and upgrade costs of the software. Also, for some operators, the inability to control which apps and services are accessible on the Google Play Store platform — including the presence of competitors’ services — is an issue.

Overall, the Android TV Operator Tier option is most suited for pay-TV operators as it offers both access to Google Media Services while leaving operators in charge of the overall user experience.  Moreover, any operator investing in Android TV can expect a system that’s up-to-date and upgraded on a regular basis (granted, for a period of three years), on-boarding the best and latest media apps as they become available.  Advanced techniques can also be implemented to ensure that the most relevant apps and content are easily available from the operator-branded launcher.

Deployment Considerations for a Complete Android TV Solution

To fully take advantage of Android TV Operator Tier, operators need to consider the end-to-end dimension of a successful Android TV solution:

  • Compelling launcher application that makes the service provider stand out in terms of user experience (even more important in an environment with a rich application catalogue)
  • Multi-journey user experience accommodating both more modern and traditional content discovery journeys
  • Multiscreen, feature-rich backend monetization platform, delivering on-demand and linear services
  • Data analytics platform allowing a data-driven operation and contiuous fine-tuning of the service in terms of churn reduction, catalogue optimisation and quality-of-experience
  • Cost-effective, secure hybrid hardware
  • Platform security implementation (CAS, DRM and Watermarking, with multi-DRM support)
  • Advanced security guidance and certification services

The Android TV product, being naturally more focused on the client device software framework, does as such not bring those service defining ingredients.

NAGRA’s extensive product portfolio helps operators address these key requirements and capitalize on the Android TV opportunity.

NAGRA’s Android TV Solution, leveraging OpenTV Signature Edition, covers all the major end-to-end needs, enabling operators to quickly launch a full-featured Android TV platform, addressing security, user experience, data analytics and hardware – while reaping all the benefits it provides in terms of deployment speed, access to thousands of apps, reduced complexity.  This makes Android TV a viable option for their pay-TV services. 

The solution’s pre-integrated components are modular and can also be combined with other third-party products, allowing operators to also create their own best-of-breed solution, working with a trusted solution partner like NAGRA, used to secure the world’s most advanced TV platforms for more than 30 years.

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