Operator Smart TVs: Redefining aggregation in the streaming era

Rahul Mehra, Chief Technology Officer, Consult Red

Written by

Rahul Mehra

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Welcome to the Red Future Navigators series. Here, our domain experts will address a range forward thinking topics – guiding our customers, partners and peers through the complexities of innovation and the technical challenges of tomorrow.

The streaming era has presented both opportunities and challenges for operators, driven by heightened subscriber expectations. Technological evolution coupled with changes in how content is aggregated and delivered, has resulted in the emergence of a new category of customer premise equipment – the Operator Smart TV.

As Smart TVs improve and users adopt new built-in apps or casting, committed operators need to consider offering a Operator Smart TV with a unified, ‘Sovereign’ app. Only then can they maintain user relevance and avoid becoming yet another app or other another dongle.

From aggregation to super-aggregation and beyond

Traditional content aggregation involved Pay TV operators curating and distributing content packages to consumers. The value of the service was in the content, with movies and sports in particular drawing in new subscribers.

However, as streaming services have proliferated, content rights have become more distributed, and the concept of super-aggregation emerged. Here, core operator content is combined in the user experience with SVOD and other content services, leveraging unified search and content discovery to keep subscribers in the operators’ domain as much as possible.

Operators continue to seek opportunities to ‘aggregate more’, including new value-added services to their offerings, to improve customer attraction and retention.

Recent examples of this include gaming, social connectivity, smart home and security services.

The Sovereign app

Unlike the conventional ‘app-among-apps’ model, where each streaming service operates independently and consumers make their selection, Operator Smart TVs facilitate the sovereign app approach.

This model ensures that the Pay TV operator app remains at the forefront of the user experience, aggregating all content sources, new apps and services in a way that prioritises consistency, ease of access and user engagement.

By maintaining control over the interface, operators can offer a cohesive experience that stands out in a crowded market.

Strategic advantages for operators

Embracing the Operator Smart TV offers numerous strategic benefits for Pay TV operators. As mentioned previously, this is primarily about keeping the subscriber engaged with the operator ‘sovereign app’ and keeping subscriber eyes on operator-served content and services.

In addition, it can enhance brand visibility when consumers are bombarded with choices. By providing a singular, branded platform, operators can strengthen their connection with subscribers.

This model also opens up new revenue streams through partnerships with streaming services and targeted advertising, leveraging aggregated data to offer personalised content recommendations that are useful to both the individual user and the streaming services

Navigating the new landscape

The shift towards Operator Smart TVs also marks a point of inflection for Pay TV operators. It may require a strategic rethink of the role of operator smart TVs, alongside other CPE devices such as set-tops and streaming sticks, moving beyond mere content distribution to becoming central players in the content and service discovery process.

By offering a platform that seamlessly integrates traditional and streaming content under one roof, alongside new apps and services, operators can meet the modern subscriber’s demand for convenience and choice.

The success of Operator Smart TVs will depend on an operator’s ability to adapt and innovate.

The future promises further advancements in technology, content strategies, and consumer engagement models.

We believe that Pay TV operators who can navigate this complex landscape while maintaining a focus on user experience will thrive.



The Operator Smart TV: taking a new category of CPE to market

Working with a trusted consulting partner and platform technology developer

Consult Red is a trusted consulting partner that provides technology development services across the delivery platform – spanning everything from consultancy, connected TV hardware and TV OS – to ‘Sovereign’ app development and the backend systems to support them.