<  News

Why operators can't simply offer retail Android TV

Mar. 25, 2021
Post banner

In the twelve years SmartLabs has been running, we have helped countless operators navigate the ever-changing world of IPTV. With every operator we work with, we spend a large amount of time getting to understand their business and what their needs are. As a result, we have a clear understanding of where each operator is hoping to take their business and how to deliver the most benefit to them in the long and short term. 

When our conversations with operators turn to Android TV, one question nearly always comes up. ‘If I can go to a retail store and buy a cheap streaming box that offers all the premium services my customers want, such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and more, why can’t my company simply offer the same?’ 

Challenges of Android Operator Tier

It is an excellent question, and one that normally leads to plenty of discussion. There are several different versions of Android TV available that each have their strengths and weaknesses, but the one called Android TV Operator Tier often looks like a good fit, as it offers operators the chance to customise the experience in a way that suits their brand, while giving them the ability to offer services such as YouTube, Google Search and the Play Store. 

But that is when things start getting a bit more involved, as Gary Hamer, SVP of Sales and Business Development at Smartlabs, explains: “It is a very tricky discussion with operators to explain that, if they choose this route, they cannot simply offer the same premium services that are contained in retail boxes. This is down to how the market is set up at the moment.”

“Operators need to make specific commercial arrangements with each of the content providers they would like to feature, and this can be a lengthy process. SmartLabs can guide operators through that process in detail. Many of them appreciate the consultative advice we provide, as there are a lot of hoops to jump through. But it may be that one of the other flavours of Android, such as Android Open Source Project or Android TV, may be a better fit for their requirements. We can help operators make the right decision for the needs of their customers."

Multi-screen offering

“One thing to remember when we are talking about the different Android options is that this is just the set top box element of a much larger, interactive multi-screen service being offered by an operator. It does not have any impact on the broader, multi-screen offerings that most operators are interested in providing.”

Dealing with legacy boxes

SmartLabs can also help with one of the other big questions we are asked – what to do with legacy boxes. Gary says: “Many millions of devices have been deployed over the last ten years. Our objective is always to try to bring as many of those legacy sets of boxes into an operator's new deployment as possible. It is something we have been very successful with. 

“Most of the boxes in the field today are Linux boxes. We support dozens of legacy Linux set top boxes from different operators today, giving us unique experience integrating our platform with Linux devices. SmartLabs can provide the consultancy and the expertise that will help operators make the right decision that uses their legacy platform in the best way.”

If you need help deciding on and implementing Android TV, contact us to find out how we can help you.