For years now one of the most common questions we get is why don’t services come to the Apple TV and Android TV. Last week, when it was reported that Comcast had decided not to support the Apple TV with their new streaming service, this question once again jumped to the front of mind for many cord cutters.
It is true that in the last few years Android TV and the Apple TV have greatly improved app support with the addition of many popular apps. Still many small but popular apps pass over Android TV and Apple TV. Hulu, for example, still does not offer support for their live TV service on Android TV. DIRECTV NOW also does not support Android TV. The Apple TV is missing many smaller apps like NewsON and Locast. So, let’s look at some reasons why this is happening.
#1 Small Market Share
The Apple TV and Android TV have sold a lot of devices; however, their market share, especially with cord cutters, is a lot smaller than with the Roku and the Fire TV.
Android TV has seen great growth but mostly in the smart TV and cable box world. Recently it was reported that they are in sixth place behind the Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, and others. When Hulu’s former head of app development was asked about bringing their live TV service to Hulu, he said it was on the roadmap and he pointed to the low support among cord cutters as to why Hulu has yet to launch a live TV service on Android TV.
Even though the Apple TV was one of the first streaming players to hit the market, its market share inside the United States is fairly small compared to Roku. The Apple TV is currently stuck in fifth place behind Roku, Fire TV, smart TVs, and game systems. When the team behind Locast was asked last week about Apple TV support, they said the Fire TV is their current focus due to the large user base.
#2 Chromecast & AirPlay
One other big reason is often pointed to when not supporting the Apple TV or Android TV. This is the fact that they can easily add Chromecast and AirPlay to their mobile app. When Locast was asked about Apple TV support last week, they pointed to AirPlay as an option they already offer to stream Locast on an Apple TV. This is a quick and cheap patch that will allow them to focus on other apps and come back to the Apple TV and Android TV later.
#3 Limited Staffing
You may think a company like Hulu must have a huge team developing their apps. The truth is even at large streaming services like Hulu the teams behind the apps are surprisingly small. Typically, just a handful of programmers are tasked with creating the apps. Not only do they have to build new apps, but they also have to maintain the current apps. You would likely be shocked at how small the teams are that make the apps you love.
#4 Staged Roll Out
New services like to roll out in stages. By rolling out to a few devices at a time services can limit the demand that typically slams them. Often the highest usage for a service is when they first roll out. People often use the service at a far higher rate when they first roll out than they would a few months after it has been out.
Live TV streaming services are best known for this staged rollout. Sling TV set the example by first coming to Roku followed by the Fire TV, Android TV, and finally the Apple TV. This allowed Sling TV and other streaming services to try and build up capacity to support the demand as they launch their service.
#5 They Are Still Fairly New (At Least to App Support)
This one may make you scratch your head since the Apple TV was one of the first streaming players released. That is true, but they didn’t open their app store for anyone to submit an app until the Apple TV 4 came out in late 2015.
Before the Apple TV 4, you had to have a special deal with Apple to get your app on the Apple TV. Apple was selective, and many smaller apps found themselves unable to break into the Apple TV.
While it may seem like the Android TV has been around forever, it launched on June 25, 2014. It took some time before it really caught on. For example, the Nvidia Shield now seen as the flagship Android TV streaming player, didn’t launch until 2015. The Fire TV is only slightly older, yet it has outsold both the Apple TV and Android TV. This has forced developers to put it ahead of other devices when looking at app development.
These are the reasons that most app developers point to when not supporting the Apple TV or Android TV.
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