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Nov 18, 2019

Blog

Keeping your streaming service alive on older SmartTVs

By Matthijs Langendijk Lead Developer, SmartTV Lead & JavaScript at 24i.

By About two weeks ago, Netflix announced it would be dropping support for their applications on older Samsung and Vizio SmartTVs. People with a Samsung from 2010 or 2011, will no longer be able to stream Netflix on their device. Vizio devices go even further, and will already see devices from as late as 2014 no longer have a Netflix app.

The outcry following Netflix’s announcement, as well as the lack in platform-years that are supported by Disney+, has led many people to question whether and for how long they can still use their own TV to watch their favourite Netflix or Disney+ series. And I don’t blame them.

So how can we make sure that your apps continue to run on older televisions? How can we make sure that your users can continue to use your apps as they please? That’s what this blog is all about: supporting old televisions.

Keep it simple

Let’s face it. Old televisions are, well, old. Maybe you still remember that time when you had Internet Explorer 6 on your Windows computer. It worked, but it was very quirky and had issues sometimes. And then we haven’t even talked about programming for it yet. Well, that is sort of what you are dealing with when you think of the oldest SmartTVs out there.

Making sure your application still continues to run fine on these old devices, is in some way very easy. Users are already expecting a relatively slow experience. So all you have to do is the following: keep it simple. Forget fancy animations, forget autoplay when hovering over an item in your carousel. Just simply make sure your content can be watched.

By making your application as simple as possible, there is no need for developers to try and work their way around all the device limitations there are. You won’t be able to implement fancy animations anyways, because the device simply won’t be able to handle it. Keeping it to a few simple carousels, and correct placement of the most important series, is all you need.

The elephant in the room: Video and DRM

Although not confirmed by Netflix, it is presumed they cancelled support because of DRM. These old devices don’t have support for the more relevant DRM types like PlayReady or Widevine. To me, it is of no surprise that these devices were dropped by them at this point. From 2012, we do see support from Samsung for PlayReady. Since this still relevant today on most SmartTV platforms, they can continue to support 2012 and higher devices. As PlayReady is still widely used today to support newer SmartTV platforms, as well as Internet Explorer for example, I don’t see many issues in the foreseeable future. PlayReady is still the way to go to continue to support most platforms.

The same issue applies for types of video streaming out there. You may think that MPEG-Dash is widely adopted on SmartTVs now, but in reality, a lot of devices haven’t received support for it yet. And because updates rarely make their way to older televisions, let alone to those from 2012, you’re looking to support different types of video streaming. Smooth Streaming in general is the way to go to support both Live and VOD.

Continuing to support video for older televisions is, as you can tell, relatively easy. You just have to know the combinations of video types and DRM that are supported by the devices.

Still being able to innovate

Just because you still want to support older televisions, doesn’t mean you have to stop improving on your application. You can still for example experiment with different ways of placing your carousels, order of the content that is shown or, for example, switching from landscape to portrait images. Keeping your UI changes small for older SmartTVs, is however very important. These devices have, as explained, a lot of limitations.

But what about the newer devices? The devices that do support sweet animations, the devices that do have support for MPEG-Dash or different types of DRM? Very simple: tailor your application to execute differently depending on the device that opens it. When the application opens, you want to detect which type of TV it is. Is it a Samsung from 2012? Then serve your application without animations, and with the usage of Smooth Streaming and PlayReady. Is it an LG from 2019, then serve your application with animations, autoplay of video, MPEG-Dash and Widevine.

You can of-course try any other innovative features on newer devices. Just as you would do A-B testing for specific users and specific features, you can only use specific features (like autoplay of video) on devices that properly support them. It does take time and effort getting to know all the possibilities and limitations of all the devices out there. But once you do know all the options, or find a specialist that does (wink ;)), you can serve the best possible experience to your users.

Concluding

Netflix removing support for devices from 2010 and 2011 due to technical limitations is kind of expected. Support for later devices will likely stay for a longer time, due to the technical support of Playready DRM. By understanding the possibilities and limitations of older SmartTVs, it is very much possible to continue to support them. It might take time and effort to do so, but your users will be very happy they don’t have to trade in their trusty TV after only a few years of use.

If I’ve sparked your interest in making sure your applications continue to work on old SmartTVs, perhaps you might want to learn more. You can reach me personally through Linkedin, or learn more about what we can do for you at 24i through our website.

Also published on Medium

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Sep 11, 2019

Press

24i demonstrates new customer growth and the power of partnerships at IBC 2019

Amsterdam, The Netherlands - 11 September 201924i, the industry-leading, global video experience company, today announced that it will present at IBC 2019 (Stand 14.G04) exciting early 2019 customer wins and significant growth in partners joining its SmartOTT Backstage ecosystem.

Martijn van Horssen, Joint-CEO of 24i, said, “IBC2019 marks an important milestone in our 10-year history.  As our biggest year of growth to date we celebrate significant customer wins on both sides of the Atlantic and strong traction with our Backstage product suite for partners ecosystem; in addition, becoming part of the Amino Technologies Group in July 2019, has accelerated our momentum in what already was a highly successful year.”

New customer video experiences to be presented by 24i at IBC include:

KPN - 24i built the Samsung Smart TV application for KPN, the leading ISP in the Netherlands. The application enables KPN IPTV subscribers to access their favorite content from their Samsung Smart TVs and enjoy operator features such as pause live TV; replay TV and Network PVR. NPO Netherlands – 24i enabled NPO, the Dutch public broadcaster, to launch NPO Start Kind, a child-friendly, niche application within its NPO Start OTT video service.  Start Kind provides young viewers with a safe, curated environment within which they can watch and explore a rich library of family-favorite programs.  PureFlix – In partnership with Comcast Technology Solutions, 24i provided PureFlix with a future-proof, cost-efficient solution to rapidly create and deploy a consistent, engaging and user-friendly video experience across all connected devices and platforms. Sinclair’s STIRR, powered by 24i Media’s app technology, makes popular national news, sports, entertainment, local news and other content available on a variety of mobile and connected TV device platforms in the U.S.

Also on show from 24i is the Company's flexible, modular, cloud-based SmartOTT Backstage™ app management platform which, together with a powerful partner ecosystem, enables operators, broadcasters and media companies to readily create next-generation, branded video experiences and best-manage and monetize their content on any platform and device.

“The quality and number of members of our partners program shows that we’ve got the right architecture and approach for the future of OTT,” adds Martijn van Horssen. ”Our SmartOTT Backstage ecosystem provides a much simpler route to OTT success for our customers and includes serious benefits in time-to-market, lower  CAPEX and OPEX, as well as adding far greater power and flexibility through pre-integration with specialist  solution providers. I’m looking forward to growing SmartOTT Backstage with our partners.”

Already integrated with the 24i SmartOTT Backstage™ platform are:

AI metadata : Microsoft Video Indexer Transcoding: Bitmovin, Google and Coconut OVP: Verizon Digital Marketing Services, Comcast Technology Solutions, Kaltura and Brightcove Recommendation: Xroadmedia and IRIS.TV Analytics: JumpTV and Google Next-generation advertising: Google DFP and Freewheel Payment services: Cleeng and Stripe Subscription management services: Cleeng and Okta User retention: Cleeng and Wicketlabs

During IBC, 24i will present:

Next Generation video experiences from Slovak Telecom, NPO, iflix, KPN, PureFlix, RTE, NLZIET, Fox Sports, Globo, and Sinclair Broadcasting Services, all powered by 24i’s products. The powerful new combination of 24i’s SmartOTT video experience framework with Amino’s back-end software to address Live VOD and EPG content across iOs, Android, Web, and Android TV. Data-driven UX examples from Microsoft Video Indexer and 24i Backstage. Operator Tier Android launcher video experiences for live content and EPG. HbbTV TV video experiences which include rich EPG, Archive, Live TV and TV Games Voice-driven video experiences.

Martijn van Horssen will be speaking at the following IBC events:

Saturday, September 14th.

11:00 - 11: 45: Artificial intelligence and machine learning in M&E process automation - CM Hub Theatre, Hall 14

12.00 - 17.00 - Google Android Launcher Workshop - Hotel Okura

Monday, September 16

16.30 -  Bitmovin Expert Talk - Bitmovin, Stand E12, Hall 14

Meetings with 24i during IBC 2019 can be arranged online HERE or by contacting marketing@24i.com.

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