Driving Higher-Quality TV Experiences in the Android TV Environment
December 15, 2020
Android TV is touted as one of the fastest growing platforms in digital TV globally and is expected to lead the set-top box (STB) and TV OS market by 2025.
This triggers an urgent need to offer television experiences on Android TV screens with at least the same quality level or better than what people are used to (i.e., broadcast quality). Integrating the right video delivery solutions into the framework is therefore essential for the platform to reach its full potential.
By enhancing Android TV with low-latency streaming, multicast ABR (mABR), server-side ABR control, multi-CDN management, and cloud-based time-shifted TV, Broadpeak enables an outstanding video Quality of Experience (QoE) on the OS for STB and TV sets to soon lead the market.
|Adoption as of Today*||WW Market Share by 2025*|
|170+ operators in 60+ markets||24% of subs|
|7 of the top 10 smart TV OEMs||15% of volume, 20% outside of China|
|*Google, November 2020||*Rethink Research, March 2020|
Figure 1: Android TV Current Adoption and Expected Market Share
Why choose Android TV ?
Video Service Providers
|An Application Platform|
|To overcome the threat posed by SVoD services and turn it into an opportunity, TV operators shall become “super-aggregators”; the market has shown its desire for this role and they are in the best position to embrace it; Android TV supports this strategy as it is by design an application execution environment.||Through the application store, TV set and streaming device manufacturers may offer customers access from day one to thousands of “TV-friendly” applications including streaming and live TV services.|
|Feature-Rich With an Innovation Roadmap|
The platform delivers a wide variety of features and continuously evolves with the backing of a giant with (almost) unlimited R&D resources; operators and manufacturers can leverage functions that would have been difficult for them to develop e.g., voice control, cast receiver, broadcast stack, etc.
|Guaranteed Interoperability Between Applications and Devices|
The very well defined and strictly implemented test, certification, and lifecycle management processes guarantee compatibility between applications and devices, which is key as the principle is to pre-install and aggregate third-party applications as well as to allow subscribers and viewers to install their own choice of additional applications.
|Room for Customization|
With the custom launcher, the operator is genuinely in a position to master the UI of its managed STB and to continue to use this UI as a means to deliver its brand and universe and to establish a unique relationship with its subscribers.
|Even though the retail tier of Android TV mandates the use of the standard launcher, this later remains highly customizable by the manufacturer (logo, background image or video, installation wizard, behavior at start time, etc.).|
|Rapid TTM and Oprimized TCO*|
|Compared with legacy, Linux-based STB, operators will enjoy a Time-To-Market (TTM) of three to six months (vs. nine to 18 before) and a 30% decrease of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).||Retail streaming devices may be launched very quickly with low expenses as they are a “copy and paste” of existing pre-certified reference designs.
Smart TV manufacturers do not change their yearly product release cadence, but they enjoy an easier integration of a free-of-charge OS.
|*Note however that if the TCO is improved overall, its structure is modified with less expenses prior to launch, but more expenses after launch due to mandated lifecycle management.|
Android TV Should Be Optimized to Fulfill the Viewers’ Expectations
With Respect to Video Quality of Experience
Android TV is a perfect platform to implement a voice-controlled user experience (UX) which allows users to navigate and discover all types of content (linear, on-demand, time-shifted, etc.), whatever their source, including those delivered via OTT applications.
In the end, it is all about video and thus video quality plays a significant part in the overall perceived QoE. User expectations are extremely high in that respect with over 95% expecting at least the same quality from streaming services as legacy broadcast (DTVE Industry Survey – January 2020).
Taken “as is,” Android TV will likely not be able to fulfil these expectations and the platform will need to be optimized with the integration of relevant video delivery solutions to tackle the issues that can alter video experiences.
One of the most important issues to solve is the ability to deliver a live event (e.g., a sporting event) at scale – i.e., to millions of viewers simultaneously. Using unicast delivery, this would imply sizing the infrastructure for these peak times which is not financially sustainable. Here the use of MABR is recommended.
It is not acceptable to be 30 seconds or more behind live video, especially when it comes to live sporting events. The objective is to achieve a broadcast-like latency — i.e., in the range of two to five seconds. Here, the use of LL-CMAF or LL-HLS is recommended.
Video Start Failures, Rebuffering, Video Start Times and Video Quality
Moreover, video start failures and rebuffering will be avoided (this does not happen with broadcast), video start times will be optimized (again here the reference is the zapping times we are used to experiencing with broadcast — i.e., in the range of two seconds), and video shall be delivered at the highest available layer without switching too frequently between layers.
If not properly solved, all of these video QoE issues will have a direct impact on business as there is a clear correlation between video QoE and viewer retention rates.
Optimizing the Android TV Platform
With Broadpeak’s Video Delivery Solutions
Broadpeak’s video delivery solutions enrich the Android TV platform by providing a “better than broadcast” video QoE for live TV services and a “Netflix-like” video QoE for on-demand and time-shifted TV services.
Video delivery solutions that are necessary for integration include:
- Low-latency live streaming: Implementing LL-CMAF or LL-HLS end-to-end contributes to solving the latency issue inherently raised by unicast ABR distribution.
- Multicast ABR: Using multicast to carry ABR formats solves the other major issue raised by unicast ABR distribution, which is scalability.
- Server-side, controlled ABR streaming: Controlling ABR streaming from the server-side allows the arbitration of network resource allocation and gives priority to certain devices, viewers, or content.
- Time-shifted TV: Enriching live video streaming with time-shifted TV (catch-up, start-over, pause / resume live TV, cloud PVR) is an efficient way to increase viewer stickiness.
- CDN selection: Selecting among multiple on-prem or as-a-service CDNs for streaming content allows the choice of the CDN that fits the best with the particularities of the session.
- CDN aggregation: Going a step further, combining the contributions of several CDNs allows the delivery of content at a quality level that exceeds what would be achievable with the best CDN alone.
- Server-side ad insertion (SSAI): Monetizing TV offerings is crucial. Through SSAI, dynamic targeted advertising can be deployed for linear and delinearized workflows (including for time-shifted TV services, which create new ad placement opportunities).
- Video monitoring and analytics: Video consumption needs to be closely monitored and analyzed. Gaining insight into how a delivery system performs and how viewers experience services enables the use of this feedback to maximize video QoE.