Android TV, which is the search giant’s set-top box and smart TV platform, is currently used by more than tens of millions of consumers, according to the company. This is different from Google’s Chromecast streaming device, which simply allows users to cast media from their smartphone to their TV set. Android TV is a full-fledged operating system that allows users to download apps and use other Google-powered services on their televisions.
The made-for-TV operating system is being utilized by more than 100 global pay TV operators, according to Google’s senior director of project management for Android TV, Shalini Govil-Pai. Speaking to Multichannel News, he said that half of Android TV users are streaming on devices made by companies that partner with Google.
While a majority of Android TV’s users are located in Europe and Asia, that may soon change. DirecTV is preparing to launch a new set-top box next year for its subscription live-streaming service in the United States which will run on the operating system. Tivo also has an Android TV-run set-top box in the works.
The first Android TV device was unveiled in 2014 as a replacement for the failed Google TV. The operating system powers digital media players like the Nvidia Shield as well as smart TVs by companies such as Sony, Sharp, and Philips.
The operating system allows for voice commands, with select devices equipped with Google Assistant capabilities. It also comes with Google Cast, which allows users to “cast” media from their phones to their television set, much like Chromecast.
Despite Google’s backing, Android TV is something of an underdog. Companies like Roku, Amazon, and Apple all have a strong foothold in the set-top box world. Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV software, for example, power many of the top-selling smart TVs.
In September, Roku announced that it currently had 22 million active users. According to eMarketer estimates, Amazon’s Fire TV isn’t too far behind.
But even taking into account an already crowded space, Google has an edge. The company’s Chromecast streaming device is a big hit, with around just as many users as Amazon’s media player options. And, despite its sparse hardware rollout last year, Android TV’s consumer base has still doubled, Google claimed in May.