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Top 6 Challenges in Connected TV App Development & How to Overcome Them
Jul 31, 2023

Navigating the Top 6 Challenges of Connected TV App Development 

Connected TVs (CTV) are no longer the future; they’re already here. At least, that’s what the massive demand for Connected TV indicates – and it comes as no surprise considering the abundance of video streaming choices it provides.  

The rise of streaming in the global Connected TV industry has garnered significant attention. Still, a lesser-discussed consequence is a shift towards Connected TV apps and the growing significance for broadcasters and operators to offer their services through self-contained applications accessible on various platforms.  

Launching a Connected TV platform has never been more important. Content demand remains robust post-pandemic, and technology platforms have adapted to cloud-based infrastructure, enabling easier implementation. Additionally, ultra-fast broadband networks and the expanding deployment of 5G networks and satellite-based internet from companies like Starlink, ensure the delivery of high-quality, low-latency streaming video that consumers desire from almost anywhere on the planet. 

However, despite the perception that OTT is an infallible business model, driven by the successes of Netflix, Disney+, and other SVOD (Subscription Video-On-Demand) players, it is crucial to recognize that OTT ventures have failed in the past and will continue to do so. Even these organizations have encountered challenges over the past year, experiencing slower expansion rates than their earlier growth phases.  

At TechBlocks, we are passionate about the potential of Connected TV applications and Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms. In this blog, we will explore the top 6 challenges associated with Connected TV app development and how to overcome them.    

So, whether you’re a media company planning to build a Connected TV application or expand your existing app to a Connected TV platform, this blog will provide invaluable insights into the ins and outs of Connected TV applications.  

But before we address the challenges, let’s look at the current state of the Connected TV industry.  

The Current State of the Connected TV Industry  

Connected TV is a medium that allows users to stream content on their TVs or devices through the web. It’s connected to the Internet through an inbuilt (Smart TV) or an external device such as a video game console, set-top box, or a dongle connected to the HDMI port.  

According to a study by Leichtman Research Group (LRG), the number of CTV households in the US has consistently grown since 2014. The study reveals that 87% of US TV households have at least one internet-connected device. This includes connected Smart TVs, stand-alone streaming devices (such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV sticks, Chromecast, or Apple TV) and connected video game systems. 

Internet-connected TV device
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The study further indicates that 80% of US TV households had at least one connected TV device in 2020, while the figure was 69% in 2017 and 38% in 2012.  

Among US adults, 46% watch videos on a TV through a connected device daily – a significant increase from 40% in 2020, 25% in 2017, and a mere 4% in 2012.  

Recent consumer research by LRG highlights that younger individuals are the most frequent users of Connected TV devices. Among the age group of 18-34, 62% of people watch video content on a TV via a connected device daily. In comparison, 54% of those aged 35-54 and 24% of individuals aged 55+ engage in daily connected TV entertainment.   

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Top 6 Challenges of Building a Connected TV App & How to Overcome Them 

Some of the following challenges may seem evident, but the endless list of failed OTT companies indicates that not all these challenges were carefully considered. 

1. Connected TV Platform Fragmentation  

While iOS and Android dominate the global mobile market with almost a 100% share, the Connected TV development market is significantly more fragmented. 

Dealing with smart TV platform fragmentation
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Connected TV viewers often use multiple platforms throughout the day. To ensure uninterrupted and seamless user experiences, companies should focus on developing Connected TV applications compatible with a wide range of TV devices. The Connected TV landscape extends beyond traditional TVs and encompasses set-top box (STB) devices and platforms such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Android TV, and Roku.  

A thorough analysis of the Connected TV market is crucial to optimize resource allocation, expand viewership, and maximize return on investment (ROI). This involves defining a matrix of select Connected TV and set-top box platforms and building future-proof applications that are compatible with these platforms.  

Further, these platforms often have poorly defined API’s and reference materials, making it more difficult for them to develop. 

2. Using the Wrong Technologies  

Each platform has its SDKs, design guidelines, and development tools. To avoid compatibility challenges, it is essential to meticulously review the documentation for each Connected TV platform, strictly adhere to the required guidelines during app deployment, and provide comprehensive support for API updates.  

Here are some of the relevant skill sets required for developing a Connected TV application:  

  • Knowing the differences between platform-specific SDKs.  
  • Comprehensive knowledge of software architecture for the correct implementation of Connected TV app development.  
  • Thorough understanding of JavaScript frameworks, Cloud technologies, programming languages (like Kotlin, Swift, and Flutter), and connectivity protocols (like BLE, RF, and NFC) for creating an immersive and rich Connected TV app with high interactivity.  

Additionally, the market is further complicated by the constant emergence of new operating systems. The challenge arises when newer OS versions are incompatible with older TV hardware, potentially leading to compatibility issues for Connected TV apps. To overcome this challenge, it is necessary to define a matrix of essential operating systems, assess the feasibility of supporting outdated televisions, and implement custom code to ensure backward compatibility with legacy TV hardware.  

3. Usability & User Experience (UX) Consistency  

Ensuring a consistent and user-friendly experience across Connected TV platforms is essential. Each platform has its own UI/UX guidelines and interaction patterns. Companies should focus on creating a unified design language, intuitive navigation, and responsive layouts that adapt to different screen sizes.  

Seamless navigation is a crucial aspect of Connected TV app development. To ensure a frictionless user experience, avoiding complex drop-down menus and prioritizing using lists and smooth page transitions is important. This helps users quickly browse through content and navigate within the app.  

Additionally, building an intuitive back button is essential. Users should be able to navigate backward effortlessly, retrace their steps or return to a previous screen without confusion.  

When it comes to remote controls, they should be designed for easy configuration and navigation. This means minimizing the number of clicks required to execute even complex commands. The goal is to provide users with the most efficient and intuitive navigation pathways across menu items, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable browsing experience.  

Developers should also consider the number, and type of buttons available on a remote. For example, some Samsung remotes and Android TV remotes contain a minimum number of buttons, usually consisting of directional buttons, enter, home, back, volume and channel buttons.  Relying on buttons, such as Menu, Settings, the numeric keypad, page up, page down, and other legacy style buttons may mean your user cannot interact with your app in the way that you would have hoped, relying on on-screen alternatives, which are often inconvenient to use. 

Conducting usability testing on various devices can help identify and address these UX inconsistencies.  

4. Security & Digital Rights Management (DRM)  

Protecting content from unauthorized access and piracy is crucial in connected TV app development. Traditional security measures, such as conditional access systems (CAS) and physical cards in set-top boxes, are no longer practical for multi-platform Connected TV app deployments. The most viable solutions to address these concerns are implementing robust security measures such as encryption, secure authentication protocols, and Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions.  

DRM systems verify the identity of playback devices and provide content licenses for playback. However, the challenge lies in the ever-changing matrix of protocols and compatibility issues. Different Connected TVs support different DRM systems and streaming protocols.   

For instance, older Samsung sets may lack Widevine support, Panasonic sets only support PlayReady, and LG sets vary depending on the operating system. This complexity expands when considering the range of devices a Connected TV app needs to support, including mobile devices, computers, game consoles, and streaming dongles.  

To reach the target audience and ensure content availability, it is crucial to support all DRM formats. By implementing multi-DRM solutions, content channels can navigate the complex landscape of DRM systems, protocols, and device compatibility to deliver secure content across various platforms and devices.  

5. Monetization Strategies  

Generating revenue from Connected TV apps can be challenging. For example, integrating ads in CTV apps requires careful consideration of user experience, as viewers generally have higher expectations for uninterrupted TV content than other platforms. Balancing ad placements without disrupting the viewing experience while maintaining revenue generation can be challenging.  

Unlike traditional linear TV, CTV allows for more targeted advertising based on user data. However, privacy concerns and regulations may limit the extent of data collection. Implementing effective ad targeting and measurement capabilities while respecting user privacy is a delicate balance.  

Addressing these challenges requires careful consideration of monetization models like subscription-based services, in-app purchases, ad-supported content, or partnerships.   

Striking the right balance between user experience, market trends, content monetization, industry regulations, and revenue-sharing agreements is essential to create sustainable revenue streams in the evolving landscape of Connected TV applications.  

6. Time to Market  

Developing Connected TV apps is a resource-intensive process that requires significant human capital, financial investment, and time.   

Time, in particular, plays a crucial role in this case.   

A Connected TV app is not a one-time project; it demands ongoing commitment. Speeding up the time to market is essential for the initial app launch and the continuous stream of updates and enhancements that follow. The app must be agile and responsive to consumer demands, as well as the ever-changing landscape of the industry.  

Reducing time to market involves efficient development processes, streamlined workflows, and agile methodologies. It requires a dedicated team that can quickly respond to feedback, identify areas for improvement, and implement changes promptly.   

By maintaining a rapid development cycle, Connected TV apps can stay ahead of the curve and deliver an engaging user experience that meets evolving consumer expectations.  

Here are some tips for reducing time to market:  

  • Use a cloud-based development environment to speed up the development process.  
  • Automate as much of the development process as possible.  
  • Test early and often to catch bugs and issues early on.  
  • Get feedback from users to improve the app.  

These tips will provide a competitive advantage and allow businesses to respond quickly to changes in the market.    

What Makes TechBlocks Your Ideal Choice for Connected TV App Development?  

In today’s digital landscape, the consumption of media content has evolved significantly. With the rise of mobile devices, computers, Connected TVs, smart speakers, and game consoles, it is crucial to embrace these platforms to unlock the full potential of viewership, engagement, and revenue. Failing to support a Connected TV digital experience means missing out on immense opportunities.  

At TechBlocks, we have rich expertise in developing applications for various platforms, including Apple TV, Android TV, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Tizen TV, and more.   

By leveraging multiple tools and technologies and seamlessly integrating them, we have crafted state-of-the-art Connected TV, OTT, live streaming, and video-on-demand (VOD) experiences that cater to diverse audiences across multiple platforms.     

Drawing on our profound industry knowledge and utilizing our custom agile methodology, we develop and scale mobile apps across a diverse range of platforms and connected devices. Whether you aim to expand your existing app to a new Connected TV platform or embark on your first venture into streaming, our dedicated team of Connected TV app developers and designers is here to drive you toward success.  

To learn more about how our skilled developers can assist you in accomplishing your Connected TV app development projects, request a demo and contact us!  

Conclusion  

Connected TV sales are only increasing. With time, users are becoming more discerning in their choices of Connected TVs, presenting a challenge for companies to deliver a truly immersive user experience. And even though tech giants are leading the market, you can always join the competition and find your niche.  

With the increasing demand for immersive and interconnected entertainment, investing in Connected TV app development is a strategic decision and a powerful avenue to establish your enterprise and expand its horizons. Building a Connected TV application not only enhances viewership but also extends your brand’s reach, resulting in an overall boost to the brand experience. 

Redefine your Connected TV experience today! 

About the Author

Jack Santeramo

Jack Santeramo is our Senior Vice President (SVP) of Sales and has enjoyed a highly successful career in the technology space that spans over 20 years. Most of Jack’s career has been in telecommunications, software development, and related fields. He’s built a strong reputation for driving multimillion-dollar revenues and launching award-winning sales operations and teams across various technical disciplines and verticals.

Prior to joining TechBlocks, Jack held senior sales leadership positions at Amdocs/Clearbridge Mobile, Rogers Communications, Distributel, Comwave Networks, among others. Jack's formal education is in Business and Information Technology from Ryerson and Seneca, and he most recently completed Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Sales Program.

Jack Santeramo