Xperi could dramatically upgrade the quality of the value-brand Smart TV user experience with its TiVo OS for the television OEM market, a product announced just before IBC and showcased at the event in September. TiVo has one of the best television platform UI/UX offers in the industry, which includes leading-edge conversational voice discovery. Its arrival as an OS solution should be a welcome new option for TV makers if they want ‘independent’ alternatives to the likes of Android TV.
Xperi is targeting the television set market that is not Samsung or LG, which Patrick Byrden, VP, TiVo Business Development & Strategy (at Xperi), estimates as 40% of share. His company has just signed a deal with Vestel (the CE and domestic appliance giant whose products appear under a variety of household brands) that will see the first TiVo OS Smart TVs shipping in Europe in the first half of next year.
The embedded OS and media platform fuses broadcast TV and streaming into a unified and personalised experience, with the focus on getting users to content quickly. Besides search and recommendation, TiVo has its own voice solution that led the way in conversational discovery (understanding casual expressions and incomplete or even inaccurate descriptions of content and figuring out what the user wants).
TiVo has expertise in metadata, analytics and advertising to underpin the personalised user experience and give TV makers the chance to monetise some of their engagement – like through ads within the programme guide, including paid content promotion (which can be targeted). The Smart TV OS contains everything that TiVo has put into the market for Pay TV operators and its own retail devices. Nothing has been left out, according to Byrden.
Vestel, which is one of the top three European TV producers, is the first OEM partner for the ‘Powered by TiVo’ Smart TV OS, but this is not an exclusive arrangement. The deal is global and is described as a multi-year, multi-brand and multi-million-unit agreement.
Matt Milne, Chief Revenue Officer at Xperi, stresses the importance of independence for the new TiVo Smart TV OS and media platform. “These will be Vestel televisions powered by TiVo, not TiVo televisions. It is Vestel [and its brands] that have the direct relationship with the consumer – it is their customer.”
Xperi says that, “unlike existing platforms, which are largely built around ‘walled gardens’, TiVo OS is a neutral platform aimed at giving OEMs significantly more control over the user experience.” According to Byrden, that includes giving OEMs input into the technology and feature roadmap.
Xperi reckons the 40% of the Smart TV market that is not covered by Samsung or LG “is searching for a truly independent platform like ours, and an industry partner with deep domain expertise”. Turan Erdoğan, CEO at Vestel confirmed that “we believe the industry will benefit from a partner-oriented, independent media platform that provides the necessary scale, both in technology and content to satisfy the global media landscape.”
The content independence is a key point. Xperi promises “an unbiased content-first user experience” on the TiVo Smart TV OS, and Milne emphasises: “We have always been a very neutral platform where content providers look to us to surface their content without bias and let consumers watch what they want.”
Byrden returns to the theme of who owns the customer. “We are not interested in trying to make it a TiVo home where someone has bought a Vestel brand television. It is a Vestel home and this is really important, because they have their own brand identity. I think Smart TV makers [in the 40% of the market that is not LG or Samsung] are worried about ownership of the brand and the consumer touchpoint and the user experience.”
Xperi believes it allows greater differentiation for TV makers, who want to avoid competing on price. And the company claims that it gives the OEMs more opportunity to monetise the consumer relationship. “Our monetisation model shares revenue back to the OEM – and that is one of the reasons this [TiVo Smart TV OS] has been so well received.,” Milne declares.
In fact, Xperi is promising that ‘Powered by TiVo’ will maximise the lifetime value of a television maker’s customer better than competing platforms, in a “profitable partnership model”. According to Byrden, “We have the content [thanks to onboarding relationships with global content owners], we have the user engagement, as that is what we have delivered for a long time, thanks to personalisation, recommendations and voice [etc.]. Content plus engagement equals monetisation.”
While TiVo is a long-time OS/UX leader, its parent company Xperi acquired Vewd Software in July to take its streaming platform capabilities to the next level. Vewd was already a streaming software provider for Smart TV makers (as well as the operator and connected car market) whose products have been shipped in 30 million connected TV devices annually and can be found in a shipped device base numbering 450 million (customers range from Swisscom and Commscope to Hisense, Nintendo, Sony, TPV Phillips and also Vestel). Vewd also aggregated content via its own app store.
The combination of Vewd with TiVo/Xperi was designed to create additional scale for the connected TV device market and accelerate deployment of new OS products, and scale is another reason why Matt Milne is convinced the non-Samsung/non-LG market will welcome ‘Powered by TiVo’ for Smart TVs on the basis that current offers to them cannot tick all these boxes at the same time: scale, top-tier media platform feature set, independence and rewards-sharing.
‘Powered by TiVo’ is another choice for OEMS and that is how Vestel sees it. “Vestel, aligned with our mission of being the ‘retailer of retailers,’ offers a wide range of choices to its customers in terms of Smart TV OS platforms,” Turan Erdoğan confirms.