Android TV’s LatAm raid begins with Wyplay tier 1 – DirecTV or Sky?

In a flash, French vendor Wyplay brushed itself down from the disappointment of being excluded from Dish TV’s Android TV plans in India just a fortnight ago, with a mystery tier 1 account in Latin America. Faultline has earmarked a number of prime suspects for the deployment in a region where we predicted Operator Tier to really come into its own this year.

All Wyplay will disclose for now is the roll out of a hybrid satellite-OTT Android TV 4K DVR set top platform, including the flagship Frog middleware to support DVB-S broadcasting standards in the region. Wyplay will draw extra value from its anonymous major LatAm account by providing a conditional access system and additional back-end components including an application manager and analytics back-end to support client-side applications and monitor deployment KPIs.

Wyplay’s recent series of events align perfectly with the Android TV report published by our research arm Rethink TV last year, noting that Latin America would be virtually void of operator tier deployments until well into 2019 when the first adopters would be the US-owned heavyweights.

DirecTV Latin America is therefore our number one suspect for this latest Wyplay deployment, considering DirecTV LatAm has been a stronghold for Wyplay’s Frog middleware for a number of years. Of course, the vendor has recently been emphasizing how Frog can accommodate and support all the benefits of operator tier without an operator going about a full middleware switch out, despite the two comparative technologies doing much the same thing.

Dish Mexico also fits the bill, having only launched its Android TV-based Netbox in recent months, manufactured by Technicolor. Rethink TV numbers have Mexico down as shipping the highest number of Android TV devices, followed by Brazil.

Sky Brasil, another AT&T-owned entity in Latin America, has to go down as an additional top candidate, being another Frog middleware customer.

When Wyplay announced two new Frog-based device deployments for DirecTV Latin America and Sky Brasil in July 2018, Faultline was a little optimistic in initially thinking these were Android TV deployments, until we got on the phone with Wyplay at the time and confirmed these as pure Linux set tops. So, it has taken some 15 months for either Sky Brasil or DirecTV LatAm to come to Wyplay with an Android TV project upgrade proposal, but at the same time we could easily be wrong – and we could instead be looking at a greenfield deployment, although we think that is less likely.

The significance of Wyplay’s LatAm antics last year however was the clear demonstration of tier 1 operators in the region embracing hybrid satellite-OTT devices – in turn serving as steppingstones to the operator tier version of Android TV.

This issue for Android TV’s delayed foray into Latin America is partly down to the major operators being caught up in an OTT battle with Netflix in a region hungry for SVoD services, leading to an uptick in streaming device sales like Roku (which had its Mexican ban lifted in October 2018), before operators take notice and embrace Android TV operator tier. The strong demand for live TV is why Android TV operator tier is likely to emerge strongly in Latin America as the linear TV services there face off against OTT content and require both on hybrid set tops. Part of the beauty of Android TV is that it puts operators in the driving seat – unless of course you believe that at some point Google will change the rules.

Wyplay is also tasking its Professional Services team with customizing, integrating and validating these software components with the operator back-end and all third party companies involved in the project. None of which Wyplay has cited by name but we’ll keep our ears to the ground for vendor announcements with similar secrecies.