Published January 13th, 2020
By: Matthijs Langendijk, Lead Smart TV Developer, 24i.
The beginning of each year is always a joy, as we get to see the latest developments in the world of television. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), many companies showcase their latest and greatest. It is also an opportune moment to look at the year ahead — which televisions we can expect, what technologies are pushing the boundaries and if anything is clearly standing high above the others. In the blog we take a look at the TV announcements and demonstrations we’ve seen during CES 2020.
This time last year, we saw the first 8K televisions getting announced by LG, Samsung and others. Well, they are back with more. But before we dive into them, maybe it’s good to evaluate what 8K televisions actually can offer.
The amount of 8K content is still virtually non-existent. So that’s not what you should be getting it for. SmartTV apps are generally also still running in Full HD, so what is the benefit there? In terms of pricing it also definitely isn’t mainstream yet. With 4K televisions starting around the €1000 mark, don’t expect 8K televisions to be cheap, yet.
Maybe it is still a bit too soon for 8K. But that doesn’t mean the progress on 8K television isn’t good. 4K started out the very same way, with there being virtually no content for it. The 8K association did announce a certification program at the end of last year, which will hopefully accelerate the adoption of the technology. Manufacturers are also definitely on board, so let’s take a look at their TVs.
You could say that LG and Samsung have been in a bit of a battle when it comes to 8K. With LG claiming to offer a ‘Real 8K’ experience, they are definitely betting big on 8K televisions. They announced a whopping 8 models featuring an 8K screen. Two of them are OLED screens, coming at 77 and 88 inch. Next to this, there are 6 LCD models sporting LG’s NanoCell technology. That’s a lot of 8K. But are they more than just a screen with a high resolution?
Well, yes and no. The televisions are supporting most of the codecs you would expect; AVC1, HEVC and VP9, and you can also expect the relevant HDR technologies you’ve seen before. But that doesn’t make it interesting. What does however make it interesting, is their insanely thin television. As demonstrated in the image above, it is basically just a frame (ring any bells?) you put on a wall. If they manage to put all this technology into such a small television, I would be very much impressed.
Samsung obviously can not stay behind in this warfare. And they definitely don’t, with their demonstration of the 8K QLED Q950-series. It is to most extent a pretty ‘normal’ 8K television. Supporting the AVC1 codec for 8K video, a custom SOC called ‘AI Quantum 8K’, so it basically hits the marks you would expect.
There is however a really interesting feature that makes it stand out: there are almost no bezels. The screen to bezel ratio is a whopping 99%, where you typically see a ratio of 94%. So you get more screen for the TV that you have, which is definitely standing out among the 8K televisions announced.
LG and Samsung are obviously not the only manufacturers showing their 8K goods at CES. We’ve seen 8K televisions many of the manufacturers you know and love. Sony has joined the party with a single 8K model, that sadly still features the same processor as last years’, which is a bit disappointing. TCL demonstrated their 8K models sporting their new so-called Vidrian Mini-Led technology, which seem promising.
The odd one in the bunch, is a to me previously unknown manufacturer: Skyworth. This Chinese company, last evaluated at 19 billion dollars, has made a big effort to make their debut on the US market known. They had previously been selling budget televisions in the US already, but their name hasn’t been big. Until now, perhaps. With their announcement of various 8K and OLED televisions, it is yet another party trying to take a chunk of the television market. Which means yet another brand to get your apps on.
Nice resolutions are great and everything, but what about the technology behind them? I’ve already mentioned some of the video codecs supported to get 8K content going, like AVC1. But besides this, what more can we expect that content owners should be wary of?
I have to admit, I am a bit pleased by this fact: there is no new operating system announced! As a Smart TV developer, we already have to deal with a lot of operating systems and their variants. The operating systems we all know and love will continue as expected: Samsung still puts all bets on their own Tizen, and LG following the same with their WebOS platform.
On the other hand, we have Roku and Android TV which both are doing very well in gathering more support. Roku boasts many partners using Roku on their TV, with TCL, Hisense and others announcing multiple TVs this year. Oddly enough, the same brands also have announced televisions with AndroidTV. Philips is another manufacturer betting on two horses, having both televisions with Saphi, their own operating system, and others with AndroidTV.
At CES last year, we have seen the same thing as we have this year. A version-up with minimal changes here, another TV with AndroidTV or Roku there. Given these limited changes and additions, I don’t expect any issues for current-gen applications. Most will continue to work with minimal effort on the new televisions announced.
The new kid on the block has to be ATSC 3.0. In short: ATSC 3.0 is the latest version of a standard, describing how television signals should be broadcasted and interpreted. Dubbed as ‘NextGen TV’, the standard is a big step towards getting a clear interface for bringing 4K TV, HDR and other new technologies into your home. Many TVs announced at CES, support the standard, opening up the way for a broad adoption of the standard.
Given that many manufacturers have opted to support the standard in their new product lines, this can potentially make app-development for SmartTVs a lot easier. If the standard is properly implemented on all brands, the possibility opens to develop an application once, and deploy everywhere. Now, we’ve seen this before with HbbTV, where the application standard was ‘loosely implemented’, so time will have to tell if the application standard is going to work well. But it is definitely worth investing into, as many brands have started supporting the standard in their new line-up.
Like last years, most manufacturers showcased their new line-up sporting 4K, OLED, QLED, HDR and other technologies. Panasonic is one of them. And their new 4K OLED flagship is definitely very beautiful, which will definitely be favoured by many. Philips also announced a bunch of televisions in sizes ranging from 43 to 75 inch, catering to basically everybody, including gamers. Vizio, third highest selling manufacturer in the US, is finally adding OLED models to their line-up, making OLED yet a bit more accessible.
Last year we also saw LG showcase their upwards-rolling television. It was expected that they would launch last year already, but they sadly haven’t yet. At CES this year, they showcased more rollable televisions. And now they can also roll downwards from the ceiling. LG expects to have some of these models up for sale somewhere this year, starting around €60.000. Given their price, they are sadly not for the masses yet, but hopefully the technology will develop further over the next few years.
So LG has the rolling televisions. Well, now Samsung has rotating ones. Yes, rotating. It still boggles my mind that this is now a thing. I am not sure if there is even a use case for it, but it is definitely interesting. Samsung showcased their rotating ‘Sero’ series. More details regarding the price and release date are still uncertain, but the feature is definitely an eye-catcher.
OLED is also finally getting smaller. Previously, the smallest OLED screen was 55 inch, which for many homes was too big and too expensive. However, both LG and Sony announced 48 inch 4K OLED televisions. With the smaller size, the entry price for OLED televisions will hopefully decrease as well. This could decrease the barrier a lot for people to finally move over to OLED televisions, and might have some interesting effects on sales, as Samsung still bets on QLED.
Appwise, there is also some news from CES. Apple has announced that their streaming service AppleTV+ is coming to LG, Sony and Vizio SmartTVs in the near future. Demonstrating Apple’s growing intent to reach more users with their service, regardless of which device is used.
Yet another year where many manufacturers are betting big on 8K. I doubt we’ll see the prices drop much though, so 8K will definitely be one bridge too far for the big public. 4K however will become a lot more mainstream with the addition of cheaper 48 inch models.
ATSC 3.0 could cause a shift in application development, as many brands have opted to already support the standard in their new line-up. However, Roku and AndroidTV are still big and used by a lot of manufacturers. LG, Samsung and Philips also still put a lot of focus on their own operating systems (WebOS, Tizen, Saphi). So don’t expect to be able to develop only one app for the foreseeable future.
In short, many developments could have an impact on the world of television. We will just have to wait and see what the upcoming year has to offer, when the TVs announced make their way to market. If you would like to know more about SmartTV, ATSC 3.0, HbbTV or anything else television, feel free to reach out through email or LinkedIn. Thank you for reading!
Also published on MEDIUM
24i Smart Operator enables T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom to efficiently launch best-in-class branded IPTV and TV Anywhere experiences on a wide range of mobiles, tablets, Smart TVs and STBs
Amsterdam, The Netherlands –
March 2020 – 24i, the
industry-leading, global video experience company, today announced that its
Smart Operator product has been deployed by
T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom to provide IPTV and TV Anywhere video experiences to T-Mobile
TV GO, Magio GO and Digi GO customers
in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The deployment has now gone live on iOS, Android, Android TV, web
and Smart TVs from Samsung, as well as Linux and Android IPTV set-top-boxes
(STBs). 24i has provided a single code base approach across
all three of the T-Mobile Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom services and includes data-driven content optimisation, discovery
and engagement tools including recommendations, analytics, targeted content and
audience measurement. The 24i-powered services
are proving to be highly popular throughout the Czech
Republic and Slovakia and, together with 24i, have been nominated for a Connected TV Award in Advancing the TV Experience.
Key deployment achievements
“24i Smart Operator provides us with a productized solution that provides a next-generation, personalised video experience for each subscriber.“ said Marcel Šatánek, Head of PM Connected Home & Terminal Management, Slovak Telekom. “A key motivation for choosing the solution is it's unique ability to enable a ‘develop once, deploy everywhere' content workflow, effortlessly handle device proliferation, legacy and third-party integrations, while providing instant access to new technologies and platform capabilities. Furthermore, Smart Operator has the ability to manage the linear and on-demand content services for all three brands via a single centralised back-end system. By combining the functionality to provide IPTV and TV Everywhere, 24i saves us time and effort managing our services and the power and flexibility of their solution enables us to provide our customers with an incredible video experience on all devices, both now and in the future.”
“I am thrilled that Slovak Telekom is the first, large-scale multinational to deploy our new, next-generation Smart Operator product,” said Martijn van
Horssen, Joint-CEO of 24i. “We worked very closely with the Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic project teams to ensure that our platform provides all the
functionality they need, as well new features that really excite customers such
as continue watching (cross-platform), binge viewing, view showtimes and
recordings to a STB or the cloud. Before creating our solution for
operators, providing a unified experience across
territories and so many devices would have required a massive engineering
effort. Both operators are already seeing the
benefits of combining IPTV and TV Everywhere in one platform with powerful
branding capabilities. We’re looking forward to ensuring that the T-Mobile
Czech Republic and Slovak Telekom video experiences we
are powering continue to excite and attract consumers throughout the region.”
Operator is a turn-key streaming video app development product that enables
operators to deliver live, linear and on-demand video services via an intuitive
user interface on to any and all devices.
Apr 07, 2020
By Ryan Chanatry, General Manager. Topic
Following today's news on the launch of Topic, a new streaming video service for ‘culture cravers', Ryan Chanatry, General Manager shares his insights on the service, what makes it unique and what he and the team are providing a unique source of entertainment for people at home during what is an extremely challenging time He also shares some great tips for content owners looking to go direct-to-consumer with their own OTT video service.
1.What is Topic and how does it compete against Netflix and other popular video streaming services?
Topic is a new streaming service that launched in the US and Canada on November 21st. We’re a part of First Look Media’s entertainment division, which also includes Topic Studios. We are a curated selection of drama, comedy, discussion, narrative, documentary, and doc-shorts. We’re available on iOS, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android, and Amazon Prime Channels. A monthly subscription starts at $5.99 and you can save with a yearly for only $59.99.
We are not aiming to “compete” with other mainstream services but instead are looking to appeal to a particular frame of mind among consumers who are looking for a compliment to their typical entertainment options.
Most of the non-major streaming services program to a particular genre niche (horror, British, etc), but our vision is that Topic will appeal to a frame of mind or specific sensibility instead.
Our programming sits at the intersection of entertaining, provocative, meaningful, elevated, and smart, and we see ourselves as a compliment to the major streaming players and definitely not in direct competition.
We feel that there is room in our audience’s lives for a service they want to actively associate themselves with, that reflects their values, and says something specific to them with its programming.
2. What are your ambitions for the service over the next year or two? Do you intend to extend to new markets?
We have many exciting projects in the works for 2020. We’ve recently premiered French drama Vernon Subtext, Shane Meadow’s incredible drama series, The Virtues (starring Stephen Graham), as well as episodes of our discussion shows Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, What’s Your Ailment?! with Maria Bamford, and coming on April 30th, Soul City, a three-part Topic Original set in New Orleans.
In addition to many more drama and comedy series premieres, we’ll be releasing narrative and documentary films throughout the year, highlighting engaging and critically acclaimed films from around the world, as well as lesser known titles that might not have had a previous presence on streaming services.
Beyond that, we aim to super serve our intended audience by providing them with a curated selection of programming that appeals to their desire to experience stories and creators that aren’t represented significantly within mainstream North American entertainment choices. We also look to provide a distribution option for series and narrative & documentary film that deserves to be seen without having to attend festivals or awards shows.
If there’s a demand for Topic in markets outside the US and Canada, we’re certainly open to exploring that in the future!
3. How does working with 24i help you meet your mission to push the art of storytelling to new heights?
24i enables us to present Topic consistently across all of the major app platforms in a compelling and simple way. They allow us to focus on our programming and marketing, while knowing that our product experience is in solid hands. Backstage, 24i’s CMS, lets us make adjustments to how titles on Topic are presented in seconds.
Additionally 24i keeps each app up to date and best in class, allowing us to take advantage of new features and bring those quickly to our audience. Their experience working across so many different types of streaming services also benefits the overall product roadmap.
4. There has been a boom of streaming video services over the past few years and competition is fierce. What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own, direct to consumer service?
Zeroing in on the service’s niche is most critical. Audiences will support and make room in their lives for brands and services that speak to them directly and that they wish to identify with. Finding that audience connection is the key first step. From there, creating relationships with many of the established and emerging providers specializing in the streaming video space, such as 24i, enables you to get up and running at a fraction of the cost of a few years ago, while leveraging their scale and technology. Given the competition, one of the biggest challenges is creating awareness for your service among the intended audience. Experimenting with a variety of marketing and press levers is essential to figuring out how to break through the noise and ensure your programming is seen and understood by those who are most likely to subscribe. Testing and iterating across product, programming, and promotion to optimize your funnel can then kick in.
5. Since people started having to stay home because of the COVID-19 virus, demand for streaming services has never been so great. How is Topic managing this increased demand and are you doing anything special for your subscribers hungry for good programming?
We are grateful to be able to provide audiences with a unique source of entertainment during what is an extremely challenging time on so many levels. Working closely with our teams on the 24i side, we’ve increased server capacity to handle the additional subscribers and streaming time that we’re seeing. Additionally, we’re excited to imminently announce a limited series comedy special, that will include some extra special guests, taking place over April/May. It’s bound to lighten up people’s spirits. We have also rearranged our overall programming schedule to launch a few of our high-profile and most binge worth dramas and comedies earlier than initially planned.
We’ve also launched a special 30 day free trial that leads to a 50% annual subscription ($29.99), available here. Read the press release HERE
Contact us today to find out 24i can help you take your content to new heights.
Jul 25, 2017
Jun 10, 2020
Putting the customer first is a prerequisite for any successful service - especially in the competitive world of #videostreaming.
In episode 2 of #In Conversation With… , Ramon Duivenvoorden, 24i's CCO explains the Customer-Centric principles to 24i's product development and the crucial role #microservices play in providing Video Service Providers with flexibility and mass customization.
Hosted by Craig Kierce and produced from Ramon's home in LA, we hope you enjoy watching and invite you to check out Ramon's blog on the subject here.