App driven TV content is here to stay: Consumers spend 55% or more of all viewing hours watching the TV*1 - It is still the screen of choice by far. New TV experiences however are becoming increasingly app-driven, which presents both challenges and opportunities for Pay TV service providers and content providers alike.

In the United States, 55 million people no longer watch traditional Pay TV*2, opting for OTT (Online Subscription Video) services only - and with more than 200 OTT providers in the US*3 alone, and hundreds more around the world, there is an abundance entertainment that Operators need to accept and integrate to compete. This huge growth isn’t about to slow down - and to make matters worse, there is a rapidly increasing number of regional providers and niche content offerings entering the market to incorporate into the viewing experience.

This has presented acute challenges for some PayTV providers, who have seen subscriber numbers and revenues plateau and even decrease over the last few years - a trend which won’t change unless service offerings can be quickly adapted.

Ultimately Apps are essential to the viewing experience and therefore Service Providers need an App Store. The question is how best to provide it, given current service offerings, installed base of devices and future portfolio plans.
1 Conviva Q2 2019; 2 eMarketer; 3 AdExchanger; 4 Shalini Guvil-Pai, Platform Chief for AndroidTV, January 2019
Deploying apps and providing an app store is challenging: Operators must first make a decision on a managed approach or a Do-It-Yourself approach to delivering apps and a next-gen TV experience. The most established platform offerings are iOS, Roku, and AndroidTV, providing reliable turn-key solutions, with all core software provided. Of these, Android offers the broadest availability of ready-made apps - reportedly more than 5000 available as of January 2019*4. While Turn key solutions have the key benefit of providing a lower level of effort to deploy, unfortunately provide challenges for Service Providers who start to lose control of their service, subscribers and data - There is little or no fundamental control over the apps, content or features that subscribers see on the platform. There are no alternative options for features like voice assistants. Over time, mandatory version updates put greater pressure on device resources, impacting performance.

There are also established DIY solutions such as RDK and AOSP - These provide a much greater degree of flexibility and control however are time consuming and resource intensive to develop and deploy, and the responsibility for establishing partner agreements falls directly with the provider. The biggest problem facing operators is the fact that software and App-based OTT development will always outpace the capabilities of the hardware - and even the greatest next-gen hardware platforms will quickly become legacy and underpowered. With more and more entrants into this OTT market emerging every day, this problem is exacerbated. The cycle goes something like this:

  • First, an Operator must Port, Certify and Update apps - supporting the current installed base of devices is expensive and time consuming
  • Then, any decision on replacing existing devices with new offerings puts a heavy burden on CapEx
  • App performance is limited by box capability - CPU and Memory will eventually become a constraint
  • And with more and more, larger and larger apps, eventually devices just run out of space
  • This cycle continues, and is accelerating…
Can an Operator achieve the best of all worlds? A turn-key option that minimizes deployment effort and maximizes roll-out speed? A solution that combines the breadth of apps available for Android or already developed on HTML? A solution capable on any device - Current and legacy - meaning the user experience is consistent and the OTT content has the farthest reach?

Achieving the best of all worlds means breaking apart the key dependency between Software and Hardware. It’s a paradigm that can be broken - just as most viewers no longer put discs into a player, to consume non-linear content…

…and that’s why ActiveVideo’s AppCloud has been created.
Introducing the ActiveVideo AppCloud: The ActiveVideo AppCloud enables Service Providers and Content Providers to access and deliver key TV apps in the Android ecosystem, even if they don’t have android devices deployed, providing a turn-key, customizable, simple-to use storefront, seamless integration into an operator’s UI, and even advertising monetisation opportunities.

ActiveVideo bring the apps, and the system just works - That means service and content providers can deliver a full app experience, across any network to any client, with the promise of ActiveVideo’s extremely efficient use of client resources.
How does the ActiveViideo AppCloud work? The ActiveVideo AppCloud enables Operators to install any OTT App once, and deliver to all devices in their ecosystem regardless of device operating system or capabilities. This fundamentally breaks the cycle of having to continually match hardware capabilities to rapid software advances.

The core components of ActiveVideo AppCloud solution 1) the virtualization platform in the public cloud, 2) the curated apps provided by ActiveVideo, and 3) the local Nano+ client integrated onto the device. ActiveVideo also offers a StoreFront for those operators who may not have a suitable UI to integrate into.

All 5000+ and growing existing Android TV Applications work on all devices bringing an immediate breadth of applications to the operator. Whether consumers are looking for 20 or 30 content Apps or specific niche application services, all would be accessible.

The ActiveVideo AppCloud is hosted in the public cloud and managed and operated by ActiveVideo. Each App runs on virtualized AOSP environment in its native form (either APK or HTML). The IP set top devices do not need to run Android natively and can support other environments such as RDK allowing operators to integrate with existing User Experience implementations and can work over and IP network Wi-Fi or even 5G. With the applications running virtually in the cloud, devices do not need the same level of CPU, GPU or memory, reducing overall cost and extending the device longevity as applications become ever more resource-intensive.

All Content retains existing end to end DRM and video path flows from the CDN, enabling the solution to match current expected delivery compliance. And leveraging ActiveVideo’s GPU-streaming technology allows all of this to happen at ultra-low bandwidth with no latency.

Many operators have legacy QAM, IP or Hybrid devices in the field (est. 300m globally), the benefits of AppCloud can even be extended through AppCloud Connect, bringing the latest operator UX, along with OTT and HTML5 apps, securely and efficiently.
With the ability to integrate with existing back office and billing systems, subscriber management and relationships are maintained while the services offered are expanded. This approach maintains integrity of subscriber data from an ownership and control perspective and can be used to drive digital advertising approaches within the app store framework and streamed content services.