Unlock the secrets to developing exceptional Android TV apps and transform your smart TV experience into a viewer’s paradise. We’re here with the ultimate guide!
Android TV has been the fastest-growing smart TV operating system in recent years. Expected to reach US$231 billion globally by 2026 with a CAGR of 20% during 2019- 2026, Android TV is poised to be an effective platform for content owners looking to scale globally.
The popularity of Android, with over 2.5 billion active users, also means that there is a large potential audience for Android TV apps which now number over 10,000. Combine this with the power of Google Play Store, which has over 3 million apps, and a global infrastructure dominated by Android devices, and you have a great platform to showcase your content to the world.
You, too, can now join the party with smart TV app development – it’s now possible without any coding skills or expensive development teams. You can be ready to launch on global Android TV devices in a matter of days!
Let us now understand Android TV apps and how you can go about making one.
What is an Android TV app?
An Android TV app is designed to run on the Android TV operating system used by default in most smart TVs. Android TV apps are available for a variety of applications like streaming video and music, gaming, and communication.
Android TV apps can be installed and used on a variety of devices, including smart TVs and set-top boxes, and can be used to access content and services from providers such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu, among others.
Developing an Android TV app? Key considerations
1. Ease of accessing content
A good Android TV app should be simple and allow users to navigate content easily.
- Display content through thumbnails so it is easy to choose content.
- Recommend content based on viewing history and preferences so your discoverable content is highly personalized.
- Allow users to navigate series episodes without having to access the main menu.
2. Intuitive user interface
Your user interface on the Android TV or any other app can make or break your viewer engagement and churn rates.
Some essential UI needs to ensure when you develop an Android TV app include:
- Design for easy navigation using a vertical or horizontal grid system with concise labels for genres, series, etc. Build layouts with landscape orientation for best compatibility with TV display.
- Text and icons should be large and clear enough to be read from a distance.
- The app should work seamlessly across different screen sizes and screen resolutions.
- Key features should be easily accessible from the main menu. At the same time, secondary features should be available through sub-menus or additional screens without cluttering the primary screen too much yet easily discoverable.
- Ensure your smart TV app is compatible with remote controls; they are the preferred input device for most TV users.
3. Easy navigation
OTT app development needs to ensure predictive and intuitive navigation for a great viewing experience.
- Avoid action bars and pull-down menus that are tough to navigate using a TV remote.
- Enable the D-pad controller on the remote so viewers can use directional pad arrows to choose content.
- Break text into small chunks and avoid lightweight fonts that are difficult to read from a distance.
- Make navigational clicks intuitive. For example, predictable back behavior when you use the remote back button.
- Design a hierarchy of navigation to traverse clusters of content. For example, shifting from any movie in a collection of horror movies to the documentary cluster should automatically take the user to the first documentary.
What goes into the making of the most-loved Android TV apps?
Ease of use, UX and personalization are the top considerations for any smart TV app. Android TV makes it easier with inbuilt features like Google Assistant. Pressing the mic button on the remote to activate voice search allows users to search for content on the app without typing on the TV remote. Features like Watchlist enables users to save content they want to watch later in one cluster.
By ensuring convenience on the app interface, too, content owners will scale their reach. Personalized recommendations based on the users’ viewing history help viewers discover new content they may be interested in and stay engaged. In addition, a simple and easy-to-use navigation menu makes it easier for users to find the content they want to watch.
Further, multi-device syncing allows users to start watching a show on one device, like their smart TV, and resume later on another device, like a smartphone or tab.
What is the most important thing for you as a TV viewer? Obviously, it is the content! One of the constraints of scaling on the Android TV ecosystem is that you are competing with more than 4,00,000 movies and content from other categories.
Top apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video come pre-installed on Android TV, while other applications can be downloaded via Google Play. This diverse range of content draws viewers to Android apps and keeps them engaged.
So while you get a large captive audience, your own content strategy, diversity, quality and niche will play a significant role in cutting through the clutter and acquiring and retaining viewers.
When loading content on the Android TV app, distributors must ensure that the content they offer is correctly licensed. They must obtain licenses from content owners and rights holders to use and distribute their content.
This licensing process can be time-consuming and costly, as licensing fees can vary depending on the content’s popularity and scope of distribution. But this assurance is an essential factor contributing to the success of the Android TV app as it allows for legally distributing copyrighted material.
Variety of monetization models
A diverse and flexible range of monetization options is required for Android TV apps. Besides subscription-based and ad-free SVOD, other monetization options required are AVOD, TVOD, and pay-per-view. It should also be possible to have a hybrid combination of two or more monetization models to address the diverse price sensitivities of your audience.
For ease of monetization, multiple payment methods should be available, including integrated payment gateways, e-commerce gateways, international currency, cross-platform payments, and marketing tools like coupons and offers.
Multi-currency and multilingual support
To cater to a global audience across geographies, multi-currency and multilingual support features are essential for Android TV apps.
Multi-currency support allows users to make purchases in local currency.
Different payment gateways can be integrated to support payments in local currency without any issues. Similarly, multilingual support can ensure your Android TV app reaches a broader audience and offers a better user experience.
High-quality, high-resolution content
Android apps like Netflix and Prime Video owe their popularity to their high-quality content in resolutions that have acquainted and accustomed customers to a more immersive viewing experience with sharper details, richer colors, and better contrast.
Content owners looking to launch on Android TV need to ensure their content is not just high-quality and entertaining but is available in high-resolution to fully leverage the support for 4K and HDR content that the Android TV ecosystem offers.
But there’s a caveat. Not all your Android TV app audiences will always have access to high-bandwidth internet. So it’s crucial that your content can adapt to lower bandwidths and continue to offer buffer-free viewing to keep your audience engaged.
Android TV apps must offer a video-sharing feature that allows users to share the link to specific content through WhatsApp or other messaging apps.
This process, also called deep linking, makes it easy for users to share content they enjoy with their friends and family, fostering a sense of community and engagement around the app.
It is also a powerful tool for viewer acquisition and building brand awareness through word of mouth.
Smart download is a feature that allows you to automatically download the TV show episode you are watching while also deleting the previously watched episode to free up storage space.
This can be particularly useful for frequent travelers with limited access to high-speed internet, as it allows them to download content in advance and view it offline. It is also helpful for viewers with limited or expensive data plans as it will enable them to download content when connected to broadband Wi-Fi and view it offline without additional data.
Users can also activate content to be added automatically to their library, based on their viewing history, for watching offline later. Downloads will stop if they disconnect from Wi-Fi or their device’s storage runs low.
Having understood the factors contributing to the success of Android TV apps, let us understand how we can create them.
How to create Android TV apps
There are different approaches to creating your Android TV app depending on the level of customization you need and the time and budget at your disposal.
Android TV App Development Option 1: Use a white label over-the-top solution like ViewLift
ViewLift is a video content management and distribution OTT platform that enables you to create your own Android TV app. Get your content and monetize your app across a range of devices, from smart TVs to mobiles, tabs, and gaming consoles, all without any coding.
Step-by-step guide to creating Android TV app on ViewLift
- Choose from a range of templates for customization with ViewLifts template builder to create stunning designs that carry your brand elements like colors, images, and fonts and lend a consistent look and feel for your brand across all your apps.
- Start adding content using a range of tools provided by ViewLift to help you upload and manage your content, including videos, images, and metadata.
- Set your platform settings and features required to grow your OTT business. Manage and configure video player behavior, free previews, downloads, ad networks, payment gateways, analytics integrations, social media accounts, customer service channels, notification & engagement channels, compliance, translations, stream behavior, geo-restriction, caching, and more.
- Test your app on different devices and platforms with a range of testing tools provided by ViewLift.
- You can publish your app on the Google Play store on satisfactory performance during testing. ViewLift provides a range of tools to help you publish your app, including automated publishing tools and support for multiple languages.
Major sports and general entertainment content owners have created their Android TV apps with ViewLift, including names like LIV Golf, True Crime Network, My Outdoor TV and Kronon. Their appls are gaining popularity among viewers and performing well on the Android TV platform globally. In fact, LIV Golf Plus, built on ViewLift, was launched on February 23 and was the weekend’s highest downloaded app across all major platforms including Android TV.
Android TV App Development Option 2: Hire a skilled app development and maintenance team
Some content owners choose to go with custom-built Android apps developed in-house. Unfortunately, it’s a costly and time-intensive choice, requiring hiring large development teams and some seriously deep pockets.
Your developers will need seasoned expertise in creating video streaming Android apps for multiple devices, programming skills in languages like Kotlin and Java, and the ability to create nuanced user experiences, widgets, and user interfaces with your brand elements. And yet, the final product may not meet the required quality standards as it hinges on the developer’s skill levels.
Also, building the app is just the first step. If you are launching your content on an Android TV app, you have more expenses coming your way. Initial setup costs will cover app creation, integrations, and customizations. Besides, there will also be recurring monthly costs for hosting, support, and security.
And then, you also need to account for advertising & marketing, customer acquisition, retention, and engagement. Your budgets would be better utilized in expenses that bring revenue.
So while hiring developers is an option, it’s not the most optimal one.
Partner with ViewLift to build your Android TV app today!
Android TV apps have the potential to catapult your content to audiences across the globe through their sheer reach. First, however, you must have an experienced development partner like ViewLift guiding you through this journey.
ViewLift has been operating in the video streaming space since 2008 and has significant experience. It counts major sports leagues like LIV Golf and MotoAmerica among its clients who have launched OTT apps across Android TV and other devices.
Get started now with your own Android TV app! Talk to ViewLift solutions experts to learn more about ViewLift’s end-to-end solutions to build your Android TV app.