Evolution Digital Launches Android TV-Based Box for MVPDs

Evolution Digital, the Colorado-based video tech company focused on tier 2/3 cable providers, has moved ahead with the launch of eSTREAM 4K, a device that is powered by Android TV.

That all-IP device is designed to support the MVPDs own pay TV service (via an OTT app or a managed IPTV service) and integrate it with the vast array of OTT apps and services, including premium video offerings, that are available via Google Play.

Evolution said eSTREAM 4K, which can be branded by the MVPD, is certified with Android TV’s Oreo 8.0 software, and comes with a remote that supports voice navigation. It’s also outfitted with 802.11ac WiFi with a 4x4 antenna configuration, can pair up with Bluetooth devices, and supports two bandwidth-saving codecs -- HEVC/H.265 and VP9

Evolution Digital, which has previously hinted at its plans for an Android TV device, sees a couple of MVPD deployment and configuration scenarios for eSTREAM 4K.

-An operator could sell or rent the device to the customer and offer its own standalone app.

-Present eSTREAM 4K as a managed device whereby the box boots up directly into the operator’s video application.

“This is really geared towards operators that still also want to play a role in having a managed device, but don’t want to deploy a box with legacy technology, like QAM,” Brent Smith, Evolution Digital’s president and CTO, said.

He said the new device also rounds up Evolution Digital’s hardware strategy, complementing the eBOX, its hybrid IP/QAM device.

“We’re not here to pick winners,” Smith said, noting that some operators want to take a gradual transition to IP video using a hybrid approach, while others want to move faster and have all new boxes entering the field be IP-only.

For operators that want to get out of the box business completely. Evolution Digital has also developed an app-based platform that can run on retail devices, such as Roku players, Apple TV boxes, as well as other products that run Android TV.

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“Even though we sell boxes, we’re also advocating a box-less future,” Smith said.

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As for the new Evolution-designed, IP-only eSTREAM 4K device, Smith said Android TV is attractive in this instance in part because “it essentially brings all of the key components on the OTT side.”

But it’s also notable that cable operators will still need direct contracts with the premium OTT providers to support their services to eSTREAM, though this scenario is no different with other companies like TiVo and Comcast that are integrating those OTT offerings on their leased devices.

“But access to the high-value OTT world is one of the compelling reasons for Android TV,” Smith said.

Smith said Evolution has commitments for its new Android TV offering, but can’t name them yet.

Some of the company’s announced cable operator partners include Cablevision of Marion County, BELD, DTC, LHTC Broadband, Tullahoma Utilities Board, Valley Telecom Group, Gold Coast Broadband, GCI, TDS Telecom and WideOpenWest.

Evolution Digital is introducing eSTREAM 4K ahead the National Cable Television Cooperative’s Winter Educational Conference, set to run February 12-13 in San Antonio.