By: Shankar
March 26 2018

How Drupal Is Improving The Smart TV Experience?

Larger than life experience is something we all aspire for. What if we can have a mini-concert or a cinema hall like setup right in our bedroom? Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku are the leaders in the smart television (TV) market and Drupal has grabbed the opportunity with both hands to develop smart TV apps that can transform the smart TV experience completely. How has Drupal made its presence felt in TV industry by the way?

We always want more than what we already have. Well, this attitude has its share of pluses and negatives. We are not going to delve into the negatives and plunge into the philosophies of our wants. Instead, we can focus on the brighter side. We have actually looked for ways to overcome hurdles and achieve what we want. Okay, enough of it already!

When the radio services were at their peak, the very attitude of our wants led to the evolution of TV to entertain ourselves with both audio and video content. When the television sets burst onto the scene, we had unprecedented experience of entertainment. We still looked for ways to improve our TV watching experience from time to time. Evolution of TV, which went from black-and-white to color, cable TV providers to set-top boxes, small sized sets to large and flat screen ones, has transpired incredulously and rapidly. 

Smart TVs are the latest entrant in this series of a vigorously changing face of television. This has paved the way for Drupal to render its amazing services in the form of smart tv apps and make the media content delivery even more exciting.

The omnipresence of web has made it a commonplace and Drupal has made great inroads in the development of dynamic websites to display user-centric content. How can Drupal be used to fling content for the smart TV? Drupal's flexibility has made it highly useful in delivering content through connected devices as well. 

Three-pronged approach of understanding Drupal's pivotal role in the smart TV industry are :

  • Drupal and smart devices
  • Smart TV and Drupal fraternity
  • Big players in the smart TV market

Drupal and Smart Devices

Bar graph depicting research by Deloitte on smart devices

With the advent of Drupal 8, creating adaptable content has been far easier. Drupal has been very significant in the way information has traveled through web pages. We have been enjoying the comfort of fetching data that we want right on our computer screen.

We are never complacent (We always want more, remember?) and have shown a strong inclination towards smart devices with its increasing popularity. What do these smart devices offer that websites could never provide to the user?

Smartphones do have the option of searching for desired information through web pages. Then, what's the difference? Smartphones can be used on-the-go anywhere, anytime. Besides, it has the provision of apps that are customized to retrieve data and present it to us based on our preferences. Smart bands like the ones which track your fitness and sends results of your performance have been influential in the way we look for web content.

Smart devices have the apps that gather streams of structured data and delivers content to you for an easy consumption. This is where smart TV comes into the limelight which is transforming the TV viewing experience. Unlike traditional TV sets, they have apps that are built to render specific purposes. Binging your favorite TV series on Netflix on a smart TV has become awesome than ever before. 

Our brain processes videos 60000 times faster than the text, says Entrepreneur. It reports that internet users watch roughly 206 videos per month.  How can smart TV seize this opportunity where video content is apparently the dominant force over the text content on Web? Drupal has been instrumental in smart TV app development.

Drupal adapts to the hastily changing demands of video watching experience. A decoupled Drupal platform permits you to publish your content once and your content is delivered across devices. Flexibility while flinging content is of utmost importance whether it is for curating content on web pages or delivering structured data through web apps. Drupal 8 aids in creating adaptable content.

Smart TV and Drupal Fraternity

DrupalCon has always stayed on top while propagating the importance of Drupal CMS for the smart TV makers. 

DrupalCon Munich 2012

With Drupal modules, Drupalize.me, a paid access video website, developed a video delivery system like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Munich session discussed how Drupalize.me built a system for its iOS, Android, and TV apps. They emphasized on how the video position can be saved across devices where you can resume watching an action-packed second half of a movie in your Roku box right from where you left during intermission on an iPhone.

DrupalCon Vienna 2017

Vienna session had discussed the huge benefit that the Drupal has to offer in the smart TV app development. Apple TV was the central point of discussion with its growing popularity. Integration of Drupal 8 website and Apple TV app using Apple's TVML (TV Markup Language) was pondered over. Using Drupal 8, a module was created to make life easier for the content creators while delivering content to Apple TV. With just a few clicks, Content developers would not just be able to create their media content but can choose their own template without having to deploy the Apple TV app all over again. 

DrupalCon Nashville 2018

Apple TV is making tremendous progress and has a huge potential to become Drupal's next big thing. Nashville session is ready to ponder over the Vienna discussions all over again. This session will again show how the content can be curated and delivered directly to the app.

Having covered the world of Drupal and its influence in the smart TV app development, we must be wondering how the big players in the smart TV market have fared using Drupal. Let's dig in.

Big Players in the Smart TV Market

Graphical representation displaying smart TV market share
Smart TV Market Share

Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku are among the frontrunners in the smart TV market. So how have they benefited from Drupal after all?

Case Study: Apple TV and Myplanet

Myplanet, which develops marketing and commerce platforms, propounded an Apple TV app for managing and delivering digital media online. Its key objective was to syndicate content directly from Drupal. Moreover, it wanted to expand the content distribution. Thus, reaching a larger audience and providing a better experience for the viewers. In fact, using Drupal 8, even the content developers would have a great experience.

To kick off proceedings, they started developing Software Development Kit (SDK). In order to do that, they used Apple's TVML Kit instead of traditional iOS/UI Kit which gave them complete control over the appearance. Thankfully, they did not have to train their developers to learn Swift Programming or confront with Autolayout. TVML Kit had programmed templates and components. Most importantly, the app code of TVML Kit was stored on the server. Hence, smart TV could be updated without having to submit to Apple store and waiting for its approval. 

They did not have to think too much about the app layout with pre-defined templates available. But TVML Kit gives you the liberty of customizing by adding CSS sort of styles and extend templates. So they developed smart TV app for Apple TV with TVML Kit's easy to use features. They had to customize user interactions, like when to play a video content or play the video again, using javascript at the backend. This might seem tedious but this is much better than UI Kit. 

As they say, make hay while sunshine. Embracing Drupal 8 has bolstered the yield for Apple TV. Not only the combination of TVML Kit and Drupal has made the smart TV app deployment easier, but it saves time considerably. 

An Example Of Connected TV Platform

Adappt, software, and mobile development company, created a Drupal-powered e-Learning development platform. It allowed broadcasters and higher education institutions to launch connected TV channel. It could be used interactively on smart TV for delivering targeted content. 

Connected Visuals can be used for streaming training courses on smart TV like Apple TV and Google TV. It is a subscription-based platform where you can schedule your video lectures and produce video-on-demand. Viewers can rate your training videos. You can even stream video content based on the location of a user and the analytics of that particular location's video restrictions.

To Sum Up

Drupal's flexibility and adaptability have empowered it to weather headwinds and challenge new wave of transition in media content delivery. 

It has forayed into smart devices by lending specialized purpose-built apps and has become a fulcrum of smart TV app development.

DrupalCon has stayed right on track by showing its keenness in developing IPTV platform and apps for big players like Apple TV and Roku. 

In addition to streamlining the creation and deployment of smart tv apps, they have played a vital role in improving the TV watching experience. 

To witness the greatness of Drupal 8 in your smart TV app development, reach us out here.