How Android TV is Paving the Way for the Future of IPTV

Android TV’s strategy is to conquer the main screen, in addition to smartphones and tablet PCs as part of the global move to unify the video delivery systems on all screens, leveraging HTTP ABR streaming formats.

A little bit of history on Android:

  • Android is an Open Source Operating System (OS), backed by Google, targeted at mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is by far the most deployed mobile OS, with a 75% market share at the end of 2018 vs. 22% for iOS, according to Ceoworld
  • Android is basically a Java-based application framework built on top of a Linux kernel.
  • Back in 2010, in a strategic move to enter the living room and get access to the main screen, Google launched Google TV with the aim to merge the Web and TV experiences. It ended up being a fiasco mainly due to its instability (it was commercially launched with a beta version), the complicated UI and UX, the lack of available content (no access to the app store at the beginning), and the weak link with the Android OS (the solution was essentially based on its Chrome web browser).
  • In 2013, Google took a different approach and launched Chromecast, a video streaming dongle connected to the TV set over HDMI. This cast receiver (using Google Cast technology) has been a huge success. Google announced in September 2017 that it had sold 55 million units worldwide since product launch and it’s still going strong.
  • Eventually in 2014 Android TV was launched as an extension of Android 5.0 Lollipop and as a replacement of Google TV. It is the flavor of Android specifically designed for the big screen.

An operator tier flavor dedicated at operators

Prior to Android TV 8.0 Oreo, Google used to specify in a detailed way how the UI/UX and more generally how the STB/the RCU should be designed and behave. The operators saw these specifications as constraints, arguing that they were not ready to accept such obligations on a device that they owned.

With Android TV 8.0 Oreo, Google released an Operator Tier flavor version (that is to say it’s designed for service providers delivering live TV on STBs they own and lease to their subscribers). With Android TV Operator Tier, most of the control is given to the operator vs. Google, and the remaining specifications from Google are far less intrusive than before and thus acceptable. The operator owns the launcher (and can thus choose how the STB will start up, e.g., on the last viewed channel), the app and the UI, the set-up procedure, and its own contents are prioritized in the search results.

The status of Android TV on the market today

Android TV is the fastest growing platform in the digital TV market and is expected to lead the STB and TV market by 2025. At the end of 2018, more than 100 pay-TV operators worldwide had engaged in Android TV STB deployments, with APAC being the most active region. The system is being used by “tens of millions” of consumers, around half of them being operators’ subscribers, according to Google.

Broadpeak integration within an Android TV ecosystem

As stated in a prior blog article, we see a good fit at Broadpeak between the technologies we develop to bring together all of the benefits of HTTP ABR and IPTV (especially for live streaming), and the Android TV context. This has translated into the integration of several of our components (nanoCDN agent for multicast to unicast transition in a multicast ABR solution, SmartLib analytics library) in the Android TV framework.

In the following video shot at the 2019 NAB Show, I answer some questions regarding the future of IPTV and the role Android TV will play in this.

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