One of Europe’s most important Android TV Operator Tier deployments is now live, with the Proximus Pickx service available to Proximus customers in Belgium. The telco and IPTV provider initially developed an AOSP (Android Open Source Project) solution but switched its attentions to Operator Tier and was one of the first Operator Tier providers to harness Android P. The Operator Tier set-top boxes now represent the next-gen offer from Proximus. The result is a personalised user experience that blends content from broadcast TV, VOD and streaming apps.
Technicolor has provided the set-top box (its Sapphire model) and middleware. The 3READY Android TV solution from 3SS takes care of the user experience. This includes the 3READY Custom Launcher (a launcher is, effectively, the Pay TV operator application that runs on top of Operator Tier), which allows Proximus to customise the UX, including with full operator branding. Recommendation technology from ThinkAnalytics, the PRESTOplay player SDK from castLabs, and Media Distillery’s EPG Correction Time (which ensures accurate start times for replay TV) have all been integrated into the new platform.
The Proximus Pickx service on Android TV Operator Tier includes live TV, advanced trick-play for recordings, VOD, Replay TV (catch-up) and ReplayPlus, which allows consumers to add days to the catch-up window. There is personalized search and recommendation. The TV guide faces backwards for seven days on selected channels. Network PVR allows unlimited concurrent recordings. Google Play Store apps are pre-installed at start-up. Google Assistant and Chromecast are supported, and there is cloud gaming. Dutch, French and English language are all supported, including for Google Assistant operation.
Disney+ is already available via the set-top box and Proximus has a content bundle for consumers that combines Netflix with other channels and on-demand content – taking apps onboarding to the next level. As 3SS explains: “Netflix and Disney+ are both bundled and deeply integrated, and supported with single sign-on. Subscriptions can be fully managed directly via the STB, and viewers can browse the content library of a service before buying, making it easier for the user to decide whether or not to add it to his or her bundle.
“With 3READY, Proximus is empowered to step beyond ‘super-aggregation’ and unleash the potential of ‘super-curation’. Super-curation is the first step in delivering the advanced TV experience that viewers truly desire, with unified access to all content, apps, and games relevant to a viewer’s tastes and interests. Individualized worlds of content, with corresponding recommendations and service offers aligned with the user’s known likes, can be delivered in an intuitive, linear way.”
Jim Casteele, Chief Consumer Market Officer at Proximus, says: “We discovered in our consumer survey last year that more than one in three Belgians has trouble choosing a programme, and almost half think they waste time looking for what to watch. Moreover, we learned that 70% of consumers want to have all their content in one place, so we knew Android TV was the answer. Now, thanks to close collaboration with our key technology partners, with Proximus Pickx we are delivering a sophisticated, viewer-centric entertainment service.”
Confirming the ambition to become a ‘super-curator’, Proximus provides ‘Proximus Passion Points’ on the Pickx service. This centralizes access to live, replay and on-demand content associated with different user interests such as Movies, Series, Sports, Hobbies/Leisure, Esports, Documentaries, Kids or Music. Another new feature is ‘Broadcaster Corners’ enabled by 3READY’s page branding capability. With this feature, Proximus can select and change the colours, images and themes of pages to create broadcaster-specific, branded micro-environments within the UX.
Meanwhile, A/B testing capabilities in 3READY mean Proximus can quickly understand what new features will appeal to viewers. The Pay TV provider can adapt applications rapidly, leading to faster and more successful enhancements and launches.
Kai-Christian Borchers, Managing Director of 3SS, says: “We are immensely proud to have been entrusted by Proximus to help deliver this ambitious and highly innovative project. Proximus deserves huge congratulations on the launch of its Proximus Pickx Android STB-enabled TV service and we are confident that audiences across Belgium will love this new, next-gen, personalized TV experience.”
The new Android TV Operator Tier based offering has been widely available to Proximus customers since July and this follows a pilot launch phase that started in October 2019. In 2021, addressable TV advertising will be enabled on this platform, making it one of the first examples of addressable TV via an Operator Tier set-top box in Europe.
Learn more about this deployment from the people that lived and breathed it
Videonet hosted a webcast in September that took a deep-dive on this deployment, featuring executives from Proximus, Google, Technicolor and 3SS. You can hear about the motives that led Proximus to Operator Tier, how the Pay TV operator handles apps onboarding, and how Proximus can surface its own content. There is lots of technical detail about the STB platform, how you achieve Operator Tier certification, and how the project evolved, with the role of different stakeholders explained. The one hour discussion is free to listen to, and available on-demand here.