Designing OTT TV Apps with the Living Room in Mind
November 9, 2016
As connected TV devices become more popular, it’s no longer enough to create an OTT experience designed just for web and mobile apps. Today, the 10-foot experience is becoming just as important. Customer expectations are rising. When your screen fits in your hand and your point of comparison is YouTube, a high-quality experience has one set of requirements. But when your family and friends are watching with you on a cutting edge screen in your living room, they expect a viewing experience equal to or better than that of traditional linear TV.
What Connected TV Devices Are Out There?
Let’s take a very quick look at the different connected TV devices on the market and just a few of their advantages and limitations.
Apple has a hoard of devoted fans, and the iOS ecosystem makes it relatively easy to create apps across devices. On the other hand, because creating apps for iOS is so easy, it’s hard to cut through the noise.
The Amazon ecosystem includes hardware development, software development, sales channels, and content, so it’s both a market and a competitor for nearly
everybody. But right now, it’s focused mostly on the US and UK, without much presence in the rest of the world.
Roku has made a name for themselves primarily in the US and UK with relatively cheap but very well-regarded streaming devices. The development platform, though, is a bit quirky.
There are a large number of Connected TV manufacturers, and the devices themselves number in 10s of millions. But to access them, you need to strike individual deals with each manufacturer.
There are two options when it comes to TVs under the Alphabet umbrella. Android TV is the heavyweight, a set-top box like software system that can be built directly into both smart TVs and STBs and controlled by remote, phone, tablet, watch, or even voice. But most people who have it don’t even realize it–it comes preinstalled on many TVs, which means that owners are less likely to realize what exactly they have and hit the app store.
Google Cast, on the other, hand, is lightweight. It’s a fun, cheap device, but it’s such a different way of interacting with your television that it tends to throw people at first.
Of the gaming consoles, Xbox is a little more focused on being a general media platform. Over the summer, they switched to the Universal Windows Platform, for development for Windows 10, which makes overall development easier. It’s still very gaming-focused, though.
Like XBox One, but more so–very gaming-centric.
Gaming-focused, struggling, and without DRM support–not an OTT-friendly environment.
How Do You Develop for So Many Platforms?
You can choose to focus on one specific platform and create a really amazing experience for that platform. This has the advantages of being cheaper and less logistically complicated, and offering a really standout service. It only works, though, if the majority of your market can be found on a single platform. For most, putting all your eggs in one basket is too risky. Instead, most services try to launch on several platforms at once.
With customized solutions for each platform, you know you’d fully exploit each platform’s capabilities. You’ll also be able to create a truly unique look and feel. It’s expensive, though, and hard to iterate if you guess wrong.
With templates, you can do more for less money and less time. This lets you experiment and learn quickly as you go.
Which path is best for you? It depends on your audience! So the first step is to figure out what devices your audience gravitates towards. From there, you can decide what OTT strategy makes the most sense.
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