Android TV Needs Better Live TV & MVPD Support

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It is no secret that the world of cord cutting is on the up. You only have to spend a few minutes surfing the net to see the wide number of reports on how companies are now moving to a more cord cutting enabling position and of course, how some companies are doing all they can to stop cord cutting progressing any further. Whichever way you look at it, the message is on the wall – TV is changing. In reality, Android TV almost seems like the ideal proponent for cord cutting. It is based on one of the most widely used (and developer-supported) platforms, Android, it is optimized for the TV, and hardware is available through a number of third-party manufacturers, with official options starting from as low as $69. It is all there, the very basics one would need to propel a life after cable TV. However, where there is a clear disconnect with Android TV is in terms of live TV – the very essence of why people have a TV in the first place.

In spite of some companies having been dragged kicking and screaming to this new OTT world, right now, for the first time, there are some seriously good options available. While none of them currently seem to be a definitive option (as they all seem to have their own and sometimes unique teething problems), there are now enough options for consumers to have a real choice of service. But far too few of them work with Android TV, which is not only disappointing, but downright counter-intuitive. In terms of those choices, the most widely coveted are probably Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW, and PlayStation Vue. Sling TV was one of the first real options to come through and paved the way for others, with PlayStation Vue being one of the next major options to come to market. While both of these options now do come with Android TV support – neither did at launch. Which in itself highlights one of the key issues – these TV-based solutions are not coming with out of the door support for TV-based hardware – all of their focus solely seems to be on mobile.


In either case, while Sling TV and PlayStation Vue are good options, it seems most would agree that there are better options out there. For instance, AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW service gained considerable interest initially and at launch, did finally seem to be the answer cord cutters had been waiting for. Although, and again, while it does have its teething issues, its biggest issue is still no Android TV support. Likewise, now we have YouTube TV and many have been expecting big things from this one. With DIRECTV NOW so far proving not to be the one-stop solution, many are assuming YouTube TV will be. Although, once again, on first impressions, things are not looking great. Like DIRECTV NOW, and like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue before it, it seems YouTube TV is also focused on other devices – most notably smartphones and tablets, although PlayStation Vue’s initial focus was obviously on PlayStation consoles. Regardless, the focus is NOT on Android TV which is where it should be. In fact, it seems YouTube TV supports just about every platform you can think of other than Android TV.

Which is disappointing for a number of reasons, although none more so than YouTube TV being a Google product – like the Android TV platform is. After all, one would assume that Google would have done everything to ensure that one of its latest and in-demand products bolsters up its other products. But does not seem to be the case. Although to some, this will not be that surprising as Google has already received criticism from users on its general stance on Android TV, with many users assuming Google is not that interested in the platform anymore – even suggesting that it will inevitably go the way of Google TV. While there are those of us who counter that argument and do believe that Android TV has a viable future, it seems hard to strengthen that argument when Google’s own multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) product does not support its own TV delivery platform. Of course, it probably will support Android TV at some point and in fairness to YouTube TV, it is only currently in a limited rolling out phase – as you can only get YouTube TV today in select cities. But on initial impressions, it does seem as though YouTube TV is following the route of the other MVPD options that came before it – allowing you to “watch on all your screens” as long as those screens are not Android TV screens.