The wave of pay TV operators buying into Android TV has turned into an unstoppable tide, but it carries a security risk that pay TV operators have never had to deal with before – malicious apps invading their pristine set top environment. They must balance the latitude offered by the open source approach with the need to finesse the user experience while protecting their ecosystems and business models.
Updating set-top box software is something operators do infrequently and only when they need new features or security functions. With Android TV, this practice must change because Google mandates a software update policy. Is keeping Android TV updated going to be a pain for operators?
Android TV is an attractive option for operators because they can cut the time and effort of launching a set-top box from 18 months (or more), with traditional middleware, down to a fraction of that. However, the question many will be asking is how quickly can you REALLY launch your own brand of Android TV box?
Android TV is an open environment that could make operators love it, or hate it. There are many reasons for loving it. But there is only one main reason for potentially hating it… the security risk associated with it being open.
Threats are a reality in any environment.
Crossing the showfloor at IBC 2017 this week will be CTOs of telcos and pay TV providers from Europe and beyond, diligently investigating whether to deploy their service on Android TV. They would be in good company. As of mid-2017, Irdeto reports more than 20 well-known deployments around the world.
Undeniably part of the attraction is the middleware’s support for both broadcast and OTT services.
Android TV is a hot topic in the industry. Many operators appreciate the benefits it offers. Some of these are described in my blog comparing Android TV to middleware. But a major concern remains: “how much control will I give up to Google?” Probably less than you think!
You have full control of the STB, not Google.
Yes, it’s true.
Google’s Android operating system took just a few years to go from upstart newcomer to dominating the global mobile market. Can it do the same for TV?
In my last blog, a primer on Android for STBs, I described the options available to operators: the “plug-and-play” Android TV service, and the more customizable self-build route based on AOSP. Is this combination enough to kill-off the market in proprietary middleware?
Launching a pay TV platform typically requires 2-3 years’ development to create a customized user experience based on proprietary middleware with continuous updates throughout the STB lifetime. It’s slow, expensive and requires specialist developers, but operators get the UX they choose.
Google’s AOSP and Android TV are shaking up this status quo. Android rose from zero to global dominance of mobile markets in under seven years, so it’s little wonder this disruptor is being taken seriously.
After lots of meetings with studios and operators at CES, a memory popped into my head. “Making camel-friendly packaging”. What on earth does that have to do with content?
Back in the day
I was a product manager for STBs. Our best distributor from Dubai faxed over (yes, it’s that long ago) a complaint. Too much packaging was negatively affecting his pipeline. How?
With the rise of OTT services, consumers are starting to analyze their monthly entertainment expenses. The good news is that many don’t want to lose their pay-TV operator service. The downside is they want to pay less for it.
Is it the same across the globe?
What’s clear from my customer meetings is that pay-TV services are not being eroded completely by OTT. They’re still important. But pressure is building on operators to drive down the cost of delivery. From Mexico to Malaysia this was a common goal.