Published November 15th, 2019
Congratulations to KPN, who today launched their Smart TV App on LG TVs in the Netherlands. The app, which was created by 24i, allows KPN subscribers to watch, pause and record live TV programs, catch up on what they have missed and easily search and discover more of their favourite content – all without the need for a set-top-box.
“Earlier this year, we created KPN’s first Smart TV app for Samsung TVs which was a major milestone in offering their customers even more choice and convenience. The launch on LG fits in with KPN’s mission to provide the best TV experience possible and we are proud to be able to help deliver on that promise,” said Martijn van Horssen, joint CEO, 24i.
Built upon the 24i Video Experience Platform, KPN is able to continuously improve and adapt its Smart TV apps and experience based upon customer behaviour, choice and preferences. The app can be used by KPN customers who have an internet and TV subscription and have a recent model of Smart TV from Samsung (from 2017) or from LG (from 2017).
You can read the news release (Dutch) from KPN here
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
Apr 06, 2020
In just a few weeks, all our lives have needed to adapt to a new way of working - in the broadest sense of the word. The focus of our work has had to shift several times already and is sure to change again as the needs of our customers and their subscribers change.
We are all adapting to working at home, each having our own very individual environments and complications. From finding space for additional TVs for development and testing, to combining conference calls with home schooling, or even simply adjusting our situation after the workday ends. We need to work on staying connected with each other while practicing social distancing and, most of all, we must stay safe.
These circumstances can bring out the 'Darwinian' in all of us. Since founding 24i over 10 years ago, our team has always used shifts in consumer behaviour to accelerate, adapt and innovate. Little did we know that change would take on such a dramatically new perspective in 2020.
I could not be more proud of how the entire Amino and 24i family is showing strength and solidarity during this new kind of disruption. Not only are we helping each other to stay connected but also providing extra support to our customers and communities while keeping ourselves and our families safe at home. It is not a surprise, but certainly inspiring, that some of our team have put technology to work to help their local communities tackle the COVID-19 virus where they can. In many countries, there is a problem with a shortage of protective tools, especially in the medical field. In our Brno office, in the Czech Republic, we have a team working together with Industra Lab to 3D print protective face shields for hospital medical staff, dentists and paediatricians. We have already printed over 60 shields and we are looking to find ways to accelerate the process so we can get more into the field.
While we may not be on the frontline fighting this terrible virus, we are doing what we can within our communities and by helping our customers provide streaming video services. Through these efforts, we hope to make the lives of the people now staying home a little bit more comfortable.
Finally, I look forward to when we can meet in person and look back on how this truly testing time has brought us together, made us take greater care of each other, and inspired us to use technology and creativity to innovate for a better future.
Until then, thank you and stay safe.
Martijn van Horssen, Joint-CEO, 24i
Jul 01, 2020
There is much debate around the future of
TV, from both a production and consumption perspective. One thing is clear,
however, that while we mostly take the User Interface of our TV and video
services for granted, it is often a key deciding factor when the time comes to
renew our subscription(s).
In a recent interview published for International Women's Day, hosted by Women in Streaming Media, Peggy Dau, Founder & Managing Partner, MAD Perspectives, and Yujin Joung, UI Designer at 24i, discuss the often hidden importance of UI design for TV and streaming services. The lively and informative discussion covers:
1: UI/UX is gaining a lot of attention with the increased number of OTT services. Why is UI/UX important to pay-TV and OTT Providers?
As we already know, today the market is very competitive and fast-growing. Service providers need to build their own clear strategy for UI/UX in order to retain their customers. We can help them by creating distinguished features that users love to have. We look at the market trends and see if they are relevant to our clients based on their users and their own content. For example, let’s look at autoplay. This is when the video service automatically starts playing the next episode when you are watching a TV series. There is no need to manually select the next episode. If all services don’t have this same feature, subscribers will get annoyed by the services that don’t have it. This is a good example where the UI/UX anticipates the user’s needs. This small feature improves the general perception of the product.
Why has the UI/UX design with rows of images become the "standard"
for video services?
I think the rows of images started from the experience at the movie theatre when you see posters next to each other on the wall. We wanted to provide a similar experience which was the start of a trend that has become the standard.
We are more attracted to visual images than text. Images are easy to consume because they require less cognitive effort. Big images are more eye-catching than long boring texts. I believe the same to be true for video services. TV is a visual platform, not made for reading text. Instead, TV is mostly made for consuming media. Therefore, we need to make an easier and more usable product for the content.
3: What's new in UI/UX design?
There is a lot of focus on personalizing
the user experience. Artificial Intelligence helps to understand your profile
and what you like to watch. You see relevant content directly from the
homepage, instead of using the menu to find what you’re looking for. The
content comes to you, instead of you going to the content. The product can
understand how you use it, and adapts its interface.
One of my colleagues gave me an amazing example of this. He has a video app and uses the same channel every Monday. This app collects the data about what and when he watches. The app now shows the same channel every Monday for him. That’s really impressive. Just imagine how this will evolve in the future.
Why is UI/UX important to consumers?
I think I can explain this with my personal experience. Recently I wanted to get more fit and I was looking for a fitness app which allows me to choose any kind of gym. So, I decided to download a few of them and just compare which one I want to use.
In one app, it was hard to understand what’s what; in general, it was just too difficult to use. I tried to use the map function which would allow me to see the nearest gym, but the result was just a chaos of data and images. Also, the look and feel of the app felt old, which made me wonder if the information provided by the app would be trustworthy. The content of an app is very important, but how we present it is also crucial. UI/UX helps consumers to experience the app in the best possible way. This is why UI/UX is important.
5: What's important as we move ahead?
Users all behave differently and experience
products in their own way. We need to keep looking for new solutions and
technologies to improve the experience.
There must be a "wow" experience when they start to use the product. We need to make the user instantly fall in love with the services we create. Beautiful graphic design, playful animations, and easy interaction are examples of ways to impress the users.
Sep 09, 2020
Choosing a name is never easy, whether it is for a child, product or company. In episode 3 of IBC On Location, Kjeld Beijer, Partnerships Manager at 24i, visits our Amsterdam-based subscription technology partner, Cleeng to find out the origins of the company name and what that has to do with the popular Dutch vending snack bar the FEBO!
Talking outside his office on the Herengracht in the majestic heart of Amsterdam's Golden Corner, Luc Bleylevens, Senior Product Director at Cleeng, draws parallels between the district's role in the Dutch golden age of commerce and today's golden age of television.
With people in the US signing up to an average of four streaming video services during the COVID-19 pandemic, service providers are having to rapidly scale, offer new business models, and adopt smarter marketing tactics in order to keep pace with increased demand and competition. They also have to address the thorny issue churn. On this topic, Luc explains how, by using a mix of data and creativity, providers are able to recognize pre-churn indicators and then address them with their subscribers before it's too late.