Published November 18th, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
What features does a video platform need to make a direct-to consumer video service successful? The EVP of Business Development at Pure Flix tells Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia what they needed, how they got it, and how well it is delivering.
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Jan 22, 2019
There will be more than 777 million global SVOD subscriptions by 2023, more than double from 2017 according to Ooyala’s new State of the Broadcast Industry 2019 report, which also found that the momentum only stands to increase.
The report – which draws on Ooyala’s own data and analysis as well as research conducted by other organizations – also underscores that viewers of all ages are increasingly adopting streaming services as their primary source of TV content. While Boomers and the Silent Generation (those born before World War II) remain the lifeblood of traditional broadcasters, they too are increasingly adopting over-the-top (OTT) and video on demand (VOD) platforms.
2018 was a year of significant change in the broadcast industry. There was a surge in M&A activity, an increase in the amount of time consumers spent with SVOD and AVOD content and a significant decline in pay-TV subscribers in North America as viewers changed how they watch TV… OTT jumped into the mainstream. There’s even more change in the cards for 2019.
Among US adults 50-64, OTT viewing increased 45% between 2016 and 2017; among US adults 65+, viewing was up 36%.
The report also postulated that mobile platforms will be a significant factor in OTT consumption in the future, given that estimates say video could make up as much as 90% of all 5G traffic.
“For OTT, that means faster and smoother delivery of video, no buffering, higher resolution, and a better, more engaging experience for users; for AVOD companies specifically, it will foster the collection of better, deeper data that could be used to better personalize advertising,” said the report.
The lesson for traditional broadcasters, the report noted, is to adopt the mindset of a diversified media company – as more programmers and distributors are joining, rather than fighting, the push into OTT.
“Subscription and ad-supported OTT services are steadily replacing traditional content delivery, and there’s no end to the opportunity to create connections with a global audience,” said Ooyala principal analyst Jim O'Neill. “OTT is not traditional TV. It thrives upon consumer choice, often random interaction, and the convenience of viewing when, where and on what device a consumer chooses. It thrives upon its own ability to iterate in order to respond to the changing conditions of the new TV environment.”
Meanwhile, as mobile viewing soars, it turns out that screen size still matters to the majority of consumers. A full 40% of US consumers who replaced a TV between October 2016 and October 2018 said they wanted to purchase a bigger screen, per The NPD Group. And consumers are going all-in on 4K UHD, driven largely by SVOD services, like Netflix, and the promise of 4K and UHD content from major sporting events, like the Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.
“Content owners have seen a massive increase in the demand for their products,” continued O'Neill. “That will continue as OTT services push out across the globe and original content maintains — and grows — its value. It’s becoming increasingly important for media companies – both big and small – to closely monitor and control the content supply chain.”
New OTT Services Aren’t Saturating the Market, they ARE the Market
Is the influx of new OTT services creating saturation in the market? Not by a long shot. While there’s likely a limit as to how many SVOD services users really are ready to pay for, that upper limit hasn’t yet been reached. And, as we see more channels become available a la carte, that limit may continue to rise, especially as younger consumers — who see streaming as the norm — grow older.
Mar 22, 2017
Nov 02, 2018