Ivan Verbesselt, Senior Vice-President, Marketing, NAGRA

How can pay-TV operators truly capitalise on the Android TV opportunity?

TRENDING – A short time ago, I wrote a blog about the impending digital denouement for the pay-TV industry.

By that, I meant the tipping point where operators sink or swim based on the truly digital capabilities of their backend, back-office, CMS, data analytics and cloud platforms.

The point where digital transformation stops being just a buzzword, and where accelerated improvements to the product and service portfolio, technology, commercial and operating models really start to happen.

This is all occurring in a context where the very content bundle is being reinvented, likely evolving into a platform-agnostic combination of inherently skinny baseline packages with a collection of OTT add-ons — and presenting a clear opportunity for TV operators to reinvent themselves as super-aggregators, converging it all back into one coherent experience.

And naturally, as part of this conversation, one inevitably comes across leading client device ecosystems such as Android TV, a newly emerging level playing field upon which diverse content sources through their respective apps naturally blend in the consumer’s home.

Because it’s true that Google, in fine tuning Android TV along the way, has progressively addressed the concerns of the market and created something more flexible for operators.

And it’s true that, for some, it’s already proven a watershed moment — the opportunity to have an Operator Tier branded user experience, Google TV services, and direct carrier billing to name a few, rolled into one. With more than a million devices activated every two months the momentum is hard to ignore.

Of course, its broadening appeal to operators of all sizes doesn’t necessarily mean that it yields a perfect solution without any further ado.

Operators using Android TV still need to ensure any service built on the platform is secure, protecting both the content owners and consumers’ data.

There have also been concerns that Google requires service providers to follow a fixed three-year update scheme, with no support offered after that. What does this imply? Perhaps that a built-in obsolescence of the most important Capex driver of any pay-TV deployment may kick in earlier in the deployment lifecycle. However, in a BYOD model this may become less of an issue since it more naturally matches the device renewal cycle in consumer electronics.

Ultimately, as Android TV continues to extend its reach across major markets, operators will be shrewd to first consider what it is that they will have to give up.

For example, all of these benefits might well be kept in check by the idea of Google advancing into their territory.

However, the risk of not exploiting Android TV’s cost savings, fast time-to-market, easier access to third-party OTT apps de facto facilitating a pragmatic super-aggregation role, direct carrier billing, deep linking for additional search benefits and advanced voice-driven technology, is increasingly deemed to be greater by many operators.

But a TV ecosystem entails much more than that. Operators must still work with solution providers to find those service-defining ingredients that make a compelling pay-TV service — including end-to-end multi-device and multi-network content value protection such as NAGRA’s Security Services Platform, and an engaging user experience, as provided by NAGRA’s OpenTV Signature Edition, a ready-to-deploy, always evolved OTT TV ecosystem driven by a business backend with the data analytics that enable active content and service monetisation with Android TV . Only then can pay-TV operators truly capitalise on the Android TV opportunity.

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