Deutsche Telekom is committed to a transition towards all-ABR streamed television into its set-top boxes as it implements a one platform strategy for its European markets – a transition that will see the ‘OTT’-only set-top boxes appearing in each national operating company market alongside legacy set-top boxes, coinciding with increased local streaming network capacity. The move towards a common ABR-only set-top box platform by one of the world’s leading telcos is already underway, with two ‘NatCos’ already implemented. Speaking at Connected TV World Summit last week, Daniel Bravo, Head of Product TV Europe at Deutsche Telekom, explained that the single European platform would eventually rationalise delivery methods – which today cover IPTV, cable and DTH, depending on market.
Bravo noted: “OTT technology simplifies all the technology standards we have to use in our devices, which has time-to-market benefits. And you can see the amount of investment in set-top boxes by big streaming companies. Until now we had lots of legacy in the broadcast and multicast space. We have created a new television ecosystem – a single product for all our NatCos. Now we must improve OTT capacity and move customers to the new ecosystem.”
Interviewed by Andy Waltenspiel, Managing Director at Waltenspiel Management Consulting, Bravo confirmed that Deutsche Telekom views the set-top box as a key control point and a device it is committed to, even though it is seeking ways to implement its full Pay TV operator experience on other devices. He agreed with comments his boss, Pedro Bandeira (VP Product and New Business, Europe at Deutsche Telekom) made previously (elsewhere) that the TV industry had possibly under-invested in CPE in recent years.
“It is clear the customer experience is connected to what happens in their homes and that applies to all CPE, not only set-top boxes,” Bravo noted. “People thought for many years that telcos were selling X Mb of fibre or xDSL but, to be honest, we were selling Wi-Fi, and for that you need the best devices. I think we need more powerful devices, and you need to control the number of providers that you use – if you have a zoo [of devices] you have lifecycle management issues.”
In January this year Deutsche Telekom launched its MagentaTV One STB, powered by Android TV OS, in Germany to deliver its premium TV experience. This follows the introduction of the Android TV OS powered MagentaTV Stick in 2020. On the partnership with Android, Bravo pointed to the importance of apps aggregation and the ability to scale apps availability. Asked about the decision to choose Android TV over a home-grown OS, he said: “You have to think about the trade-off between control of the user experience and scalability.”
Asked how Deutsche Telekom can differentiate in the super-aggregation function, he pointed to the need for “an excellent user experience for content discovery and the way you implement that with different [consumer/content] touch points.”
Touching upon non-STB device strategy, Bravo acknowledged that Deutsche Telekom was watching Sky Glass with interest. He did not rule out the possibility of DT making its Pay TV experience available through its own television sets, too. “We are tracking this proposition to see if it makes sense,” he told the London audience.