Increasingly robust and complex online mobile consumer behaviors – on tablets, smartphones, and other devices – is contributing to growing demand for Smart TVs in the home.
This why nearly 85 percent of all flat-panel TVs produced in 2016 will be smart TVs, according to Gartner, Inc.[i] However, the analysts believe that smart TVs alone will not spur demand in the market. In a highly competitive market, the only way to achieve differentiation is to connect TVs to multiple platforms.
New advances in smart TV technology are emerging that enable operators to not only provide their full Pay-TV package, but also extend services – via customer premises equipment (CPE) – to a wider array of content demanded by consumers in a convenient and secure manner. NAGRA, for instance, has recently certified the industry’s first Android TV™ set-top-box (STB) – Technicolor’s MediaPlay SKIPPER.
The STB integrates the capabilities and security features of traditional customer premises equipment offered by service providers, with the ability to deliver convenient – and secure – access to a wide array of over-the-top content and online services, such as next-generation TV apps for Android™.
We caught up with, Gaëtan Delcroix, VP of Customer Product Management at Technicolor’s Connected Home Division, to discuss how the emergence of Android™ technology is dramatically changing the game for service providers and consumers.
Delcroix: Yes, in fact, Technicolor’s MediaPlay SKIPPER is the first STB that NAGRA has certified. It is a very important deal for us. We are really bridging two worlds at this moment. In the world of the traditional OTT and open devices like smartphones and tablets, you can install many apps on the device,
In the more traditional world of the set-top box, we have had devices that were designed to deliver broadcaster content that is highly valuable – and that needs to be delivered in a highly secure manner. As a result, consumers have not been able to install their own apps or new features on it, because of concerns that content might be stolen somehow.
With NAGRA now certifying Android™ technology, we are bridging these two worlds. This means that service providers can offer consumers broader content choices in a highly secure manner. Users can install their favorite apps and enjoy all his entertainment in a safe environment. This is really a big deal.
Delcroix: This creates a lot of options for service providers. Broadcast operators are very tied to the cinema industry, for instance, where they have very strong contracts that specify security issues that must be met to give them the rights to put that content on a device.
These NAGRA security guidelines allows them to make sure – in negotiations – that they can distribute blockbuster movies to the home. They have the opportunity to have the full extent of their 4K content without any limit, creating a more open world where the device will be enabling new services.
Traditionally in the set-top box market when you were using monolithic software to add a new service, it could take a year to a-year-and-a half to enable the services on the set-top box. As a result, this segment of the market was always catching up to what was happening in the computer, tablet, and smartphone market.
By having NAGRA-certified Android TV™ capabilities in the device, it means that service providers can introduce – or enable -- new services more dynamically. If the end user wants to have access to Twitch.tv, there’s an app for that. If they want to have the Pokémon Go game also on their TV, they can put it in immediately, without going through the lengthy process of revalidating – that’s where the Android™ is fantastic.
Delcroix: We have been very committed to the Android™ over the past few years. Because of all of these tablet and smartphone devices, users have been used to the swiftness…they expect devices on which you can change apps very fast.
Without security assurances, STBs have been slow to adapt. The gap was getting bigger every day. Four years ago we said: “We need to make a set-top box based on smartphone technology.” We went to chipset manufacturers to explore options. That was a first step.
Then we started working on Android 4.1. We have been one of the first to jump on this train and to make operator devices within the TV environment. Today, we offering this technology to Telecom Italia – and we are going to be launching four or five more operators before the end of this year – with offerings that combine an Android TV™ solution, together with broadcast content coming from the TV, coming from cable, OTT, etc.