Google has achieved significant success over the last couple of years for Android TV on the back of its Android TV Operator Tier program. TV operators have been able to tap into Android TV to deliver fast time to market, enable access to Google Play and provide the potential to deploy advanced set-top boxes at an affordable cost, while allowing them to retain control of the look and feel of their service. While Android TV for operators has simplified the business of launching a pay TV service, operators have until now still needed to source a device manufacturer to supply a set top box and also an experienced integration partner to launch the service. This potentially involves significant cost, time and complexity.
Step in multiscreen technology provider Zattoo, which is now taking its TV-as-a-service concept to Android TV, enabling operators to get to market quickly by providing a white label 4K set-top solution that relieves clients from the burden of developing and integration of a their own launcher applications. “Network operators are opting more and more for set-top boxes powered by Android TV as an alternative to Linux-based set-top boxes, so we had two main objectives. The first was to offer Android TV as a white label offering as part of our TVaaS platform.
The second was to satisfy the requirements of existing and future B2B customers,” says Franziska Kleemann, Product Owner for Android TV Operator Tier at Zattoo. Kleemann says that one of the challenges operators face in getting to market quickly is to find a suitable manufacturer to not only supply their set-top boxes but also manage the entire integration effort. With a ready-to-roll white label solution from Zattoo, operators can rely on a trusted partner to do most of the heavy lifting, says Kleemann. “Operators can select a fully brand-able, 4K set-top box product from us without any need to go and find a device manufacturer of their own,” she says. “They won’t face the potential minefield of incurring unforeseen costs if they don’t find the right partners.”
Zattoo has focused on meeting the needs of most medium-sized operators and delivering a consistent user experience. “We see a lot of interest both from existing and new customers. Our product is a fully white label offering. We guarantee performance. It is part of our larger TVaaS solution with white label TV applications available to more than 15 device platforms. Operators get the benefit of our back end, hosted video headend, the CDN and new features and developments in content discovery and video-on-demand,” says Kleemann.
The apps available from Zattoo as part of its Android TV offering include content discovery, network DVR, restart, startover, series record and time-shift TV. “Because we are offering this as a white label service, operators can get a unified and consistent experience across all manner of big screen,web, game consoles and mobile devices.”
Kleemann says that Zattoo has found a partner for the initiative that can deliver a “perfect combination” of a high-specification system-on-chip platform at “a very competitive price”, opening up the market to a new range of operators that may not be as well-resourced as tier-one players.
“We have a good, strong partner with a solid roadmap that can move very quickly and efficiently,” says Kleemann. According to Kleemann, that roadmap means that operators will benefit from a clear path to upgrade to next generation devices, giving them certainty that they will be able to keep up with changes to Android TV without needing to allocate lots of resources to achieve this. Zattoo is currently offering a pure IP solution, but plans to follow up with a hybrid box including broadcast tuners later.
As part of its TVaaS service – and part of the Android TV operator tier program – Zattoo has also upgraded its content discovery and VOD offering. According to Stefan Tiess, product manager of Zattoo’s discovery squad, the first goal of what Zattoo has branded Discovery 2.0 is to enable viewers to search for and select content via a single interface across linear and non-linear channels, recordings and “all kinds of VOD content”.
Second, he says, content discovery should be personalised. To enable this Zattoo has introduced recommendation based on previous viewing behaviour across all types of content that users can access. Zattoo’s content discovery portal, which is powered by a recommendation system that was built in-house, taps machine learning algorithms that are extendable across all types of content, most recently with the addition of transactional VOD and electronic sell-through content to the mix. “Previously we had distinct areas for recordings and catch-up and TVOD content that are now combined in one overarching discovery experience, allowing operators to provide their own on-demand offerings on the same page as other content,” says Tiess. Discovery 2.0 is included by Zattoo in its Android TV for operators white label offering, providing operators with an additional incentive to sign up.
“We are proud to once again be an innovation leader in this industry, especially when it comes to Android TV for operators,” says Nicolas Westermann, head of B2B product at Zattoo. “We are already one of the leading TV platforms for network operators in Europe and we are delighted to have formalised a partnership with one of the world’s leading manufactures when it comes to Set Top Boxes powered by Android TV. We are very excited about what this new product will bring to our offering and also the experience our new Content Discovery and VOD features will provide to network operators and their end users throughout Europe and further afield.”
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