Video service providers have been given another option when building their multiscreen offers thanks to a template-based, off-the-shelf solution from 3 Screen Solutions (3SS) that allows them to enjoy the benefits of native coding. The use of native coding means the full potential of each end-device can be harnessed and the result should be a better user experience than what you could achieve with HTML-based apps. This is certainly the message from Kai-Christian Borchers, Founder & Managing Director at 3SS, who sees his company’s 3READY template solution as a breakthrough. He thinks it raises the bar for what mid-sized and smaller media companies can expect when creating new multiscreen offers using the template-based approach.
3READY, which was launched last autumn, is pitched at operators and broadcasters who need to get to market quickly and either lack the larger budgets or the deep engineering and project resources needed for a bespoke multiscreen development. 3SS says services can be deployed in as little as two months, thanks partly to the pre-integrations. Another key benefit for this solution is a mediation layer that sits between the front-end apps and the various functions that contribute to a multiscreen backoffice. This means a video provider can swap out its backoffice without influencing the front-end coding, with all the apps in the field quickly connected to the new backoffice components.
This mediation layer was developed by 3 Screen Solutions for customers of its bespoke multiscreen developments and it has now been productized as part of 3READY. This is a way to future-proof yourself against incremental as well as wholesale changes in the backoffice. “People do swap out their back-ends. This is a big advantage for anyone using a template solution,” Borchers declares.
“We have built a template solution that is all native code and that differentiates us,” he adds. “We use native iOS or native Android or native Samsung Tizen, for example. Often people are implementing an iOS or Android solution in HTML so it is a browser-based solution with a native shell around it. That means the app is actually running in HTML. You can develop across platforms quickly with that approach but that limits the user experience. With native, the UEX is richer and the navigation is smoother.”
Borchers claims that any video service provider should choose native coding over an HTML-browser approach because of the improved performance. 3SS thinks it is redefining what you can get for your money in the off-the-shelf market, making it easy to choose native coding.
Before 3READY was launched at IBC, the German company (whose HQ is near Stuttgart) was focused on developing bespoke software solutions, where the apps – and the user experience contained within them – are built from scratch. The company works across set-top boxes and all the obvious multiscreen devices. Customers include Swisscom, Kabel Deutschland, ProSiebenSat and Maxdome. 3SS could see that parts of the market were starting to demand off-the-shelf solutions and 3READY marks a strategic shift to address this.
“One of the market trends behind this is a need to reduce time-to-market. Bespoke solutions can take up to a year to deploy, they can be expensive and you have to think a lot, as an operator,” explains Borchers. “You need the internal capacity to analyse what you need and jointly define it, like what the screen on your end-device should look like. You need a team that can drive this kind of project. Bigger operators have the money and the teams to drive that process but 3READY is for people who will appreciate having the features pre-made, ready for them. We are talking mainly to the Tier-2 and Tier-3 operator markets and to broadcasters.”
3READY is designed to be as flexible as possible and so accommodate future changes to the front-end as well as the backoffice. There is lots of scope for operators to change what viewers see. They can make changes to their service on-the-fly based on usage analytics.
Apart from taking 3READY to market, Kai-Christian Borchers is focused on how the multiscreen business can be improved and has pinpointed recommendation as a current weakness. He believes the dependence on user log-ins in order to deliver truly personalized recommendations when watching a shared screen, like the television, severely compromises the value of recommendation. As he points out, his evening viewing is usually with his wife under her profile. That means the recommendations made to her when alone, and the recommendations made to them together, are both skewed. “Recommendation is not smart enough yet and should at least be time-based,” he says, pointing to the likelihood that different people or groups of people are watching TV depending on the day of the week and the time of day.
Photo shows the Ran FIGHTING Smart TV app built for ProSiebenSat by 3SS