Technicolor, headquartered in Paris, has become one of the first video infrastructure companies to adopt the Google TV Broadcast Stack, an extension of Android TV.
This is designed to help cable operators, telcos and satellite TV providers integrate legacy pay TV channels with OTT-delivered apps and services, all on one device.
Many video service providers have already deployed Android TV to varying degrees, relying on Google’s Operator Tier to mix those legacy and OTT services through a streaming device that boots up on their own app. But some have been deterred by the effort of integrating key legacy components, especially the operator's conditional access system (CAS), which authorizes access to content for customers that have paid to view it.
Some technology vendors, such as Germany’s 3SS and Sweden’s Accedo, have stepped in with services to help operators overcome these challenges around the Android TV Operator Tier, but this still involves costs. Google is now offering its own alternative through collaboration with major hardware vendors.
The Google Broadcast Stack makes it possible to halve CA integration, typically from 18 months to 9 months, as well as reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) involved deploying these hybrid devices at scale, according to Brian Jentz, Vice President, at the Video Product Unit of Technicolor Connected Home. "It's adding a critical missing layer that people were having to do on their own,” said Jentz.
Reducing that complexity will help accelerate Android TV deployment among operators not yet using those boxes as their primary video platforms, or at all, Jentz indicated. Furthermore, this broader integration capability will also open the door for operators to integrate other apps supported on the Android TV platform, such as cloud gaming and targeted advertising, Jentz added.
Technicolor plans to support the new stack on its existing line of Android TV devices, as well as those to be introduced in 2021. It will support playback and record functionality, EPG, Teletext and global broadcast standards, including DVB-T/T2, DVB-C, DVB-S2 and ISDB-T.
The idea is that while operators still benefit from using relatively inexpensive Android TV streamers that boot up to their own app, the CA has already been implemented and integrated behind the scenes. So the updated platform already supports CA technologies from established video security players, including Nagra, Synamedia, Irdeto and Verimatrix.
This collaboration comes less than a month after the new Google TV experience was introduced, initially to underpin a new retail-focused Chromecast streamer that supports a remote control. This is more powerful than earlier generations of Chromecast streaming adapters that relied on smartphones to cast content to TV screens.
This and now the Technicolor tie-up will help boost Android TV in its battle with the Reference Design Kit (RDK) in the market for hybrid platforms in the pay TV arena, aiming at operators seeking to revamp their offerings, as well as emerging providers. RDK has been around longer as an integrated software stack for video and broadband devices and is managed jointly by its original architect Comcast, along with Liberty Global and Charter Communications. There are other contenders, notably Roku in the US retail market especially, and Amazon with its Fire TV now being pitched more at operators.
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