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Android TV: Deters cord-cutting, captures new gains on-and-off the cord

By Loewe Tan

There has been an outburst of OTT players in the media industry during the past few years, resulting in rampant cord-cutting, a term to describe the cessation of pay-TV and channel surging. However, TV is here to stay in another form — Android TV. Indeed, the surge in the deployment of Android TV has helped operators to bundle their various OTT content, decrease churn rate and capture new revenue streams on-and-off the cord. And this is why more operators today are leveraging on Andriod TV to empower their offerings.

With the rise of OTT platforms such as Netflix and Disney+, StarHub, Singapore’s pay-TV operator, was faced with a big challenge to safeguard its position as the market pay-TV leader in the republic. To decrease churn rates and operational cost, StarHub took the opportunity to consolidate its IPTV and OTT networks, creating a single service and bundled content aggregation offer — StarHubTV+.

Optimised network, user stickiness

Android TV was selected to power its new set-top box, delivering aggregated content and services from both StarHub and third-party streaming services, taking advantage of features such as deep-linking, universal search and discovery. In addition, the NAGRA Connect Player was selected to enable availability of StarHubTV+ on a spectrum of unmanaged devices.

Through Fast-Track solution, NAGRA was able to quickly activate partners for the Android TV STB, custom app launcher, encoding, transcoding and content delivery network; thus, launching StarHubTV+ within a span of 180 days.

Apart from converging multiple distribution networks, the NAGRA OpenTV Video Platform offers multi-DRM that ensures Hollywood-grade protection over its premium content.

StarHubTV+ combines IPTV and OTT to deliver live and on-demand video services seamlessly, with far lower operational overheads as well as addressing the rapid changes in the marketplace and consumer’s demand for bundling services.

With a slew of OTT platforms launched in the past few years, some consumers are frustrated over the high cost of subscriptions and are demanding for a unified experience. Tapping on NAGRA OpenTV browser-based management platform, StarHub was able to aggregate Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) offering that includes major and localised streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO and iQiyi.

Leveraging on NAGRA’s cloud-based OpenTV video platform, StarHubTV+ was also able to optimise its content delivery, improved user stickiness through enhanced user experience such as universal content discovery and thereby captured a new market in content bundling.

The converging of the services has also enabled a lower cost of ownership.

White label solutions

In the past, broadcasters were deterred to make the big move to IPTV, due to high cost and amount of time involved. Recently, iWedia — a provider of software solutions for connected-TV devices — launched Android TV Custom Launcher and Fast Launch Program to accelerate time to market for operators.

The Android TV Custom Launcher features pre-installed value-added services (VAS), which include third-party OTT integration, targeted advertising, video overlays, IoT and smart home features and personalisation. These are features that can support operators in driving much greater value for their customers, in order to bolster their revenues.

And to support set-top box (STB) manufacturers in getting products to market more rapidly and drive value for their operator customers, iWedia’s Android TV Custom Launcher comes as a white-label solution that features STAGE, a modern User Interface (UI) with multi-screen capability for all platforms.

STAGE is compliant with Google’s operator tier programme and frees STB manufacturers to develop products that can scale to the requirements of operators, from over-the-top (OTT) to hybrid functionalities.

iWedia has also announced it is partnering with ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company, to integrate its Live TV app into retail hybrid devices to deliver enhanced user experiences.

Alongside basic features such as an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), channel list and parental controls, the launch of the Live TV app will also see major new features including branding options for TV brands, customisable look and feel, rich metadata (as an optional add-on), voice control with Google Assistant, deep linking with streaming services, and integration with Google TV.

Wuxin, VP of Fixed & Multimedia Product, ZTE, said, “We are delighted to be working with iWedia to achieve this goal, through premium hardware products for customers.

“We will deliver a true multimedia entertainment experience to further revenue growth and add value for brands.”

Hans-Jürgen Desor, CEO, iWedia, added: “We are honored that ZTE is working with iWedia to deliver this progressive project.

“Outcome shall reflect in providing user-friendly design and integration of complex broadcast TV functionalities, as well as multi-country certification.

“We will offer a modern user interface and options for brands to add value as well as increase revenue.”

Smart TV … and smarter home  

Android TV solutions can also boost your smart home experience. Hong Kong’s Now TV has launched Now H1, a smart device that runs on the Android TV smart operating system, which enables Now H1 users to enjoy a
world of entertainment with Now TV movies, drama, sports and edutainment, as well as all their favourite personal apps from Google Play.

The built-in Google Assistant, which supports voice commands in both English and Cantonese, is among the latest enhancements for Now TV, helping to enrich the entertainment experience for customers.

In addition to asking Google Assistant for weather information, Now TV customers can press the Google Assistant button on
their remote to switch channels, play their favourite TV show, look for soccer match schedules, and even get programme suggestions, simply by using voice commands in English or Cantonese

Now TV customers can also download and access their favourite apps from Google Play. For enhanced user experience, Now TV has handpicked leading entertainment apps and preloaded them on Now H1, such as HBO GO, ViuTV, Viu, Da Vinci Kids, Netflix, Red Bull TV, Bloomberg and Deutsche Welle.

With a full suite of content services and connected devices built into a single unified ecosystem, user stickiness has increased, resulting in lesser churn rate for the operator.

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Future of Android TV

Android TV has effectively integrated end-users from on-and-off the cord — effectively cutting the trend of cord cutting. However, new technology trends are emerging every day. How will the industry envision the next generation of Android TV?

At Mobile World Congress 2022, ZTE launched 5G Android STBs. By integrating the functions of gigabit gateway, router and STB, this product can offer gigabit speed access and 4K UHD video service.

Moreover, this STB supports Android TV OS and can offer users rich video contents. For hardware, it adopts high-performance chipset solution — the quad-core ARM Cortex-A55 architecture to ensure a smooth user experience.

For software, ZTE employs Alliance for Open Media Video 1 (AV1), the advanced video codec technology to enable operators to deploy AV1 contents, thereby bringing users clear and immersive viewing experiences and improving customer satisfaction.

This futuristic STB boasts great capability of providing home users with new video experiences featuring high speed, low latency and high stability. Thereby it can help operators rapidly deploy and develop services to enhance customer stickiness.

Stick around for more new Andriod TV developments to come …

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