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Home » Cyta encouraging operator-as-an-app usage by selling Smart TVs on two-year instalment plan

Cyta encouraging operator-as-an-app usage by selling Smart TVs on two-year instalment plan

Anna Agrotou of Cyta, speaking at Connected TV World Summit

Cyta, the leading telco and Pay TV provider in Cyprus, is employing a 24 monthly instalment payment plan to encourage consumers to buy Smart TVs that contain its Pay TV operator-as-an-app experience. The company is leveraging its experience as a mobile provider to assume the risk for retail CE devices that are handed to consumers and then repaid over a period of time. Customers can buy the Smart TVs via Cyta’s network of retailers/resellers.

Cyta (which also provides broadband), offers multichannel linear TV spanning entertainment and sports, plus VOD via its Cytavision packages. It also has the CytavisionGo streaming service for mobile, tablet and computer. Last year the company implemented a Smart TV app for Android, Tizen and WebOS that largely replicates the Pay TV experience already delivered via set-top boxes on the managed IPTV network, including the provision of pay-per-view as well as VOD.

At Connected TV World Summit this spring, Anna Agrotou, Senior Engineer at Cyta, explained the operator-as-an-app Smart TV strategy. “We want to target our younger audience and we need to gradually replace the set-top box. It is more cost-efficient for us [to provide the TV service via a Smart TV app] because if there was a set-top box we would have to install it in the home. The app provides immediate service activation: you just phone our call centre and download the application [to an existing supported Smart TV].”

Smart TV app users get a three-month free trial period that gives them access to a subset of the content. If they then subscribe, the full service begins at a lower monthly price than the set-top box service offering. A subscription comes with multiscreen viewing on three devices plus the television app, with sign-on allowing for one concurrent Smart TV stream on the same IP address. If someone tries to log-in from a different IP address, they are asked if they want to end the viewing session on the first device. But viewing is allowed from different locations, with the ‘portable’ television app ready for use in holiday homes, for example. Additional concurrent Smart TV streams are allowed at extra cost.

Cyta is actively encouraging new customers to take the Smart TV approach rather than the set-top box, and has been doing this since late 2022. Customers who want to convert from STB consumption to Smart TV app usage can do so, to take advantage of the reduced subscription fee. Agrotou acknowledged that even as more customers take up the Smart TV app approach, there will be a need for STBs to serve second, non-Smart TVs in a home (in multiroom homes). “It won’t be easy to migrate these customers [from STB to Smart TV app],” she pointed out.

In 2020, Cyta introduced a pre-paid model for sports packages and discreet sports events on the STB offer, and one of the next steps is to bring this to the Smart TV app.

Agrotou gave the London audience a list of the challenges that Cyta has faced with its operator TV app deployment. The most notable item is the need to support software across multiple TV operating systems and then test upgrades, and ensuring users update the app if this process is not automatic.

“Monitoring the quality of our user experience is a big challenge, like if there is buffering”, she said, admitting that this is a work-in-progress. Stream delivery must be optimised for non-managed networks. The TV app must also contend with any in-home Wi-Fi issues, of course. The Pay TV provider has already fixed one UX issue for its sports content by using CMAF to dramatically reduce the delay from when the STB signal arrives and when a stream plays out on the Smart TV app.

“We had to update our existing agreements with content providers to include the TV app in our portfolio,” Agrotou added. Having to use the television manufacturer’s remote control was not a problem, however. “We manged to put a lot of the navigation process into the UX.”

Cytavision on Smart TVs is the classic ‘app among apps’ model where the Smart TV maker’s UI is the home screen, and users then go into the Cyta app. When they exit the app, they return to the television’s default UI.

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Deutsche Telekom’s Bandeira: Let’s recreate the super-aggregator experience on phones and tablets

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