If you are unsure of the direction Android TV is moving in then you only have to look at the growth of adoption within the pay-TV operator sector.
New details on the expansion of Android TV are now starting to emerge from the Connected TV World Summit, currently ongoing in London and as part of the event, Google has confirmed the Android TV platform is now seeing 2x year-over year growth. Although Google has still yet to provide firm numbers on exactly how many devices are out there, or shipping each year.
More revealingly, Google has provided some information on the growth of the platform at the pay-TV operator level.
For example, Google notes the platform had only eight pay-TV operator “partners” in 2016. This number grew to 24 in 2017, and to 50 in 2018.
Now in 2019, however, the number of pay-TV partners is up to 140.
For reference, the last officially confirmed update on this (around 100 operators) came at the very end of last year. This latest number further highlights how the rate of adoption is now starting to accelerate even more than ever before, and it's aspects like this that seems to paint the clearest of pictures on where the real momentum is for Android TV.
In contrast, Google also highlighted the various smart TV and STB makers who support the platform. Not only is there number far less than the number of pay-TV operators overall, but the number hasn’t massively changed over the last year - unlike in the pay-TV category.
Of course, pay-TV support is something that more often happens behind the scenes and so the visibility of support often takes longer to become evident at the consumer level - compared to device-makers who are usually quickly to announce the x amount of devices they plan to release supporting the platform during the year ahead.
In spite of the seemingly quiet rolling out, this is an element that is likely to affect the deployment of Android TV in most parts of the world, including the US.
There’s already evidence of how the landscape will change in the US once pay-TV device deployment becomes more commonplace.
For example, AT&T is already investing in the platform. At present, this can only be seen in limited terms with a device that's set to arrive soon. However, with companies like AT&T embracing Android TV as a means to convert its significant subscriber base over to a streaming platform, the levels of adoption for the platform could spike very quickly once the rollout momentum picks up.
One of the reasons so many pay-TV operators seem to be so keen on Android TV is the cost-saving benefits the platform offers. Android TV, in principle, is a white label solution which the operator can brand, and to a degree customize, to their own liking. This is all while offering the option of bringing devices to market with a familiar ecosystem more easily, quickly and cheaply.
Adding to that, this is typically a platform that also works reasonably well with the wider Android ecosystem, making Android TV an ideal tool for those companies that are looking for a greater and more unified cross-platform and device experience.
The latter of which is something that also greatly benefits users in general.
Update 4/16: Edited to omit Comcast who was previously listed as one of the U.S. companies looking at adopting Android TV. Comcast has confirmed it has no plans to utilize the Android TV platform.