Understanding Android TV Operator Tier: The Future of TV
What is Android TV Operator Tier?
Android TV Operator Tier, introduced by Google in 2014, lets TV operators create personalized devices and interfaces using the Android TV platform. This certification streamlines UI management, app launches, and content delivery, empowering operators to deliver unique experiences on Android TV.
Operator Tier also introduced a new home screen that’s been optimized for pay TV operator content and services. The home screen features channels as cards that can be customized by the operator, making it easy for users to find the content they want.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Android TV "Operator Tier" and its features. We’ll also explore how it can help operators deliver an improved TV experience to their customers.
Benefits of using Android TV Operator Tier
Increase User Experience and Customization
Using an Android TV Operator Tier improves user experience and customization by giving operators complete control over the look and feel of the UI, which ensures cross-device consistency across platforms and environments. Operators can create a unique, ‘on-brand’ experience that satisfies the expectations of their audience, while also offering advanced features such as voice search and Chromecast functionalities.
Furthermore, operators get a device with their logo, custom remote control, and unique packaging design, which all help to improve service trust and viewer loyalty. Additionally, by creating an OTT app, operators can maintain total control over their brand identity and achieve the widest possible reach across devices. This platform enables operators to roll out their STBs, get a custom UI/UX design, pre-install client apps, integrate CAS/DRM systems, and add other solutions. Finally, with the Android TV Operator Tier, operators benefit from lower UI development costs and built-in Google TV Services (GTVS).
Streamline TV Experience for Consumers
Google's Android TV Operator Tier can help to streamline the TV experience for subscribers by providing a unified, branded experience that combines streaming apps with local and live programming. It offers a modern user interface, apps via the Google Play Store, voice control, and federated search of live, recorded, and app content, making it easier for users to find the content they are looking for.
Additionally, the Operator Tier's device management capabilities allow operators to monitor device performance in order to ensure a high quality and consistent viewing experience. This also allows operators to extend the lifetime value of the device by scheduling firmware and software updates. All of these aspects help to provide consumers with a more streamlined and enjoyable TV experience.
Increase Availability of Apps and Services
Using an Android TV Operator Tier can increase the availability of apps and services by providing access to the vast library of apps available in the Google Play Store. The Operator Tier Custom Launcher program enables operators to replace the built-in launcher, creating a custom user interface that allows them to curate their own selection of apps and services. This allows operators to create an aggregated content catalog under their own flag, offering consumers access to a wide range of video apps and services. Additionally, the integration with major DRM services provides operators with a secure platform from which to offer content.
Ability to Offer Operator-Branded Service to Subscribers
Android TV operator tier enables the offering of operator-branded service to consumers through customized onboarding and unique user interfaces, which improves user experience and enhances brand recognition. This, combined with the ability to reach multiple platforms and the development effort that Google has put into evolving Android capabilities, enables operators to provide a device with their logo, custom remote control, and unique packaging design, which all work to foster service trust and viewer loyalty. Furthermore, the performance and effectiveness of content can be measured, as well as personalized ads and content, ad and content measurement, audience insights and product development being able to be accessed and stored on devices. This enables operators to establish a presence across all desired devices, maximize their reach potential, ensure optimal user experience, and use features such as voice search.
Increase Ability to Monetize Content
Using an Android TV Operator Tier enables operators to monetize content by providing a user-friendly service that gains brand presence, promotes content, reaches multiple platforms, maximizes reach potential, offers a more flexible business model, utilizes features such as voice search, and pins apps and channels on the main screen. Additionally, Android TV allows operators to measure the performance and effectiveness of content, customize onboarding and UI for improved user experience, access over 7,000 games and apps for subscribers, and use market research to learn more about their audiences. With all of these capabilities, operators have a much better chance of monetizing their content.
Increase Mobile Device Integration
Using Android TV can increase mobile device integration by offering a more flexible business model, allowing for features such as voice search, and providing a customized onboarding and unique user interface (UI). This makes it easier to reach multiple platforms and maintain total control over brand identity. Furthermore, it enables operators to have a presence across all desired devices, maximize reach potential, and ensure an optimal user experience at all times. Android TV is a powerful platform that Google has put much development effort into, making it increasingly popular across many devices. By creating an OTT app, operators can take advantage of its features and ensure successful mobile device integration.
Improved User Experience for Streaming Video Services
Using an Android TV Operator Tier can significantly improve the user experience for streaming video services by providing a more streamlined and organized interface for content discovery. It aggregates streaming services in the Google Play Store, allowing users to quickly find relevant content through its federated search, as well as access YouTube streaming video. Moreover, it enables pay-TV operators to provide their subscribers with a branded experience on their TVs, as well as a modern user interface and voice control. Finally, device management is also improved, allowing operators to capture and review key data about device performance, manage and schedule firmware and software updates, and thus extend the lifetime value of the device. As a result, users are able to access high-quality video content more conveniently and reliably.
Increased Ability to Customize Operator Launcher
Allowing users to customize the operator launcher increases the capabilities of the Android TV operator tier by giving operators complete control over the look and feel of their UI, thereby creating a unique and differentiated experience that meets the expectations of their audience. This customization also allows operators to easily integrate multiple content and features within the UI and provide seamless authentication and billing for users, without requiring them to enter credentials. Furthermore, the integration of advanced features such as Google Assistant, YouTube, Chromecast, and others, off the shelf, allows operators to add more value to their offerings, without having to worry about the jarring effect of switching between Google's launcher and the operator experience.
Improved Integration with OTT Platform
Using an Android TV Operator Tier improves integration with OTT platforms by allowing operators to roll out their set-top boxes with a custom UI/UX design, pre-install client apps, integrate CAS/DRM systems, and add other solutions. This platform enables operators to maintain total control over their brand identity and achieve the broadest possible reach across devices, with their content ranking higher in the launcher and search results. Operators can also provide subscribers with a user-friendly service and promote their content with minimal development time and costs.
Improved Over-the-Top (OTT) Platform Capability
Using an Android TV Operator Tier greatly improves the capability of an OTT platform by providing a low-cost and straightforward route into the on-demand TV market. The platform provides access to a huge number of apps and features such as voice control and personalized recommendations. It also offers a standardized platform, allowing operators to launch a service without the levels of investment that would normally be necessary.
Challenges and Limitations of Android TV Operator Tier
Unsuitable for Small Screens
The Android TV Operator Tier is a great solution for delivering content to platforms with larger screens, but there are some limitations when it comes to using it on smaller screens. These limitations include:
- Limited personalization capabilities as the jarring effect of switching between Google’s launcher and operator experience
- Inability to achieve total brand alignment, as there is always a risk of being 'off brand' and inconsistent across devices
- Strict guidelines and approval process from Google for the project
- Dependency on the Google product roadmap for the launcher
- Expense and lengthy development process to build a customized app
- Hardware must meet strict requirements and pass certifications to be approved by Google
- Adherence to Google’s design principles
- Less immersive nature of an isolated app, making it harder to maintain usage
- Limitations on capabilities available on all devices.
Complexity of the User Interface
The user interface for Android TV operators can be quite complex due to the need to design customized onboarding experiences and unique user interfaces to improve user experience and enhance brand recognition. These customized solutions also come with their own trade-offs such as limited personalization capabilities, inability to achieve total brand alignment, having to adhere to Google's strict guidelines, and being dependent on Google's roadmap. Additionally, the development of an Android TV platform user interface requires a careful design that caters to users standing 10 feet away, as well as navigation that works with only a directional pad and a select button.
All of this can be more expensive and time-consuming than the standard launcher and requires hardware to meet strict requirements and pass certifications. Furthermore, if operators are integrating GTVS, they must adhere to Google's design principles. While the reach of an isolated app is powerful, it is also harder to maintain usage, and a less specialized app will limit what capabilities can be adopted. Ultimately, the decision of whether to develop for STB or an OTT app depends on timescales, budget constraints, target audience, and future growth plans.
Lack of Scaling Capacity
The lack of scaling capacity refers to the difficulty of adding more features or integrations to an Android TV operator tier without compromising on performance or user experience. This can be a challenge for operators since they must adhere to strict guidelines set by Google, as well as ensure that their hardware meets the necessary requirements to pass certifications. As a result, they may experience difficulties in expanding their product offerings or reaching a wider audience. This issue can be mitigated by using an off-the-shelf product that integrates all Google requirements and has already been successfully deployed by other operators, however, this can be more expensive and time-consuming than the standard launcher.
Lack of Adoption by the Market
The lack of market adoption by Android TV operators can be attributed to a variety of factors, including limited personalization capabilities, difficulty achieving total brand alignment, the need to adhere to strict guidelines, and dependence on the Google roadmap for the launcher. In addition, developing and launching on Android TV can be more expensive and time-consuming, hardware must meet certain requirements, and design principles must be adhered to. Moreover, while powerful in its reach, the less immersive nature of an isolated app can limit usage and capabilities, and developing an STB or an OTT app is not an either/or scenario. These factors can be a deterrent for businesses looking to launch on Android TV, as they must consider timescales, budget constraints, target audience, and future growth plans when making their decision.
There's also the matter of varying versions of Android versions out there. The uptake of the latest version of Android in the United States of America, for example, hasn't been exactly blazing fast.
Lack of Integration with Other Platforms
The challenges and limitations of Android TV operator tier integration include limited personalization capabilities and the jarring effect of switching between Google’s launcher and operator experience, the inability to achieve total brand alignment, strict guidelines and approval process, dependency on Google’s roadmap for the launcher, and the need for hardware to meet strict requirements in order to be approved.
Additionally, integration can be more expensive and time-consuming than the standard launcher, and features such as voice search may be more difficult to set up on STB and not always available for smaller operators. The less immersive nature of an isolated app means it is harder to maintain usage, and a less specialized app will also limit what capabilities can be adopted. Finally, dedicated technical expertise and ongoing support are needed to develop within the Android TV ecosystem, including the integration of the backend, multi-DRM, stream management, hybrid DVB, IPTV, and the ongoing maintenance of the launcher.
Inadequate Security Measures
The inadequacy in security measures associated with Android TV operator tier is inadequate monitoring for and prevention of fraudulent activity, lack of security in systems and processes, lack of a contribution network, and inadequate remote control infrastructure.
Inadequate Support from Google
Google has provided inadequate support for Android TV operators due to several disadvantages that can arise from a custom operator experience. Additionally, hardware must meet strict requirements and pass certifications to be approved by Google, and operators must adhere to Google's design principles when integrating GTVS. These factors have made it difficult for operators to effectively use Android TV. Furthermore, operators are unable to restrict access to Google Play Store, as it is an integral part of Android TV. Finally, in order to keep up with consumer demand for content on multiple platforms, operators must be able to reach multiple platforms, which is not achievable with inadequate Google support.
How to set up and use Android TV Operator Tier?
To begin, the first step is to decide which operator tier is best suited to your needs. Consider factors such as the level of customization and control you require, as well as your budget and target audience. Once you've determined the appropriate tier, you can move on to the next steps.
These steps include setting up and integrating your launcher, developing a cross-device strategy, and implementing an analytics strategy specific to Android TV operators. With careful planning and execution, you can leverage the power of Android TV Operator Tier to deliver a seamless and engaging user experience. By following these steps, you can successfully set up and utilize Android TV Operator Tier to create a user-friendly service that enhances brand recognition and promotes your content.
Step 1: Decide which operator tier you need
Step 2: Configure Android TV Operator Tier
Step 1: Determine Eligibility
Before you can configure Android TV Operator Tier, you must ensure that you are eligible. If you do not have a linear pay TV offer (for example, you only have an SVOD service), you will only be allowed to deploy an app instead of a launcher.
Step 2: Customize the Launcher
Once you have determined that you are eligible, you can start to customize the Android TV launcher. This allows you to create a UI that is more aligned with your brand, as well as change the boot screen, manage user accounts, facilitate billing, and monitor analytics.
Step 3: Integrate Third-Party Apps
Android TV Operator Tier allows you to easily integrate third-party apps and other Google-powered systems such as Google Home and Google Assistant. Through Google's design principles for Android TV, you can ensure a consistent experience across all platforms.
Step 4: Provision and Activate the Device
You can also customize the device to manage its own provisioning and/or activation via API, allowing for a seamless onboarding experience. You can also bind service account rights directly to the device, which can skip the authentication step and take the user directly to content consumption.
Step 5: Offer Authentication Through Smartphone
To further improve the user experience, you can give the user the option to log in with their Google account. This will bind their account with other Android TV services, such as YouTube Music, YouTube TV, the Google Play Family Library, Google Play Music, Google One, and other apps. You can also authenticate through your companion apps, which can reuse credentials and avoid time-consuming TV inputs.
Step 3: Run tests and debug errors
To successfully integrate your launcher into the Android TV Operator Tier, it's crucial to develop clear terms of reference that outline project requirements, timescales, and costs. After integration, testing and debugging are necessary to ensure smooth functioning. Listening to feedback is important to improve the user experience, and regularly monitoring the performance of the Android TV Operator Tier is essential to identify and address any issues.
Step 4: Optimize the platform for your needs
To optimize Android TV Operator Tier for your needs, start by integrating your launcher, customizing settings, and adding features to create a user-friendly service. Next, develop a unified cross-device strategy by following best practices for content accessibility. Outline your requirements in terms of reference, and design a tailored onboarding experience for users that reflects your app's unique UI and brand recognition. Additionally, consider both STB and OTT apps to cater to different budget constraints and target audiences.
Step 5: Create content bundles and promote them
Content bundles can be created and promoted for Android TV operators by utilizing a unified cross-device strategy. This strategy involves integrating the launcher, customizing settings, and adding features. Reports and white papers can help operators gain an understanding of the various aspects of the strategy. To get started, operators should pin their apps and channels to the main screen to ensure their content has a higher ranking in the launcher and search results. Lastly, they should use the provided APIs to build a great user experience for remote control. By following these steps, operators can create and promote content bundles for Android TV.
Step 6: Optimize analytics strategy
To improve user engagement on Android TV, start by analyzing your current analytics data to identify areas for improvement. Develop a unified cross-device strategy to better understand user behavior across devices and learn best practices. Then, design and implement an analytics strategy specifically for Android TV operators, and regularly review and analyze its success. Finally, make necessary changes and improvements to the strategy to optimize user engagement on the platform.
Step 7: Implement customer service solutions
To provide a seamless Android TV Operator Tier service, follow these steps: first, develop clear terms of reference and estimate project costs and timescales. Next, integrate new devices into the operator's infrastructure, provide client apps and UI/UX layouts, and set requirements for client devices and features. Also, provide a custom remote control and unique packaging design, along with technical support with various levels of service-level agreement (SLA). Aim to offer viewers a user-friendly service, enhance brand recognition, and promote content. Additionally, troubleshoot any issues 24/7, and monitor the operator's service status. Critical issues should be addressed in no longer than four hours, and onboarding and unique UI should be customized to improve the user experience.
Step 8: Plan for policy enforcement
How To Build The Best Android TV Launcher?
In short, plan carefully and design an intuitive interface. Customize with voice search and recommendation algorithms. Continuously test and refine based on user feedback. With these steps, you'll build the best Android TV launcher.
You can also download our whitepaper called "Step-by-step guide to Android TV platform." It is an actual step-by-step guide to Android TV, perfect for operators considering launching video streaming services on Android STB devices but not sure where and how to start.
With this whitepaper, you should be able to decide on the best option for you, including the launcher. And besides, you can always call on our experts to help you.