20 January 2021
ZTE, a Chinese technology company has partnered with Netflix, the leading media services provider in an attempt to be a part of the latter’s Hailstorm Set-Top Box (STB) program. As part of the Hailstorm program, ZTE will be responsible to create a better TV content ecosystem for Netflix.
ZTE announced the partnership in a press release on Wednesday. ZTE also revealed that it has been working with Netflix on set-top box projects since last year.
Hailstorm Hybrid Program is Netflix’s Android TV-based STB device scaling program that helps operators quickly design and bring their STB solutions with Netflix to the market. Now, ZTE, a major international provider of telecommunications, enterprise, and consumer technology solutions for Mobile Internet will offer its services to Netflix's ambitious Hailstorm program and bring better content. The exact details on how ZTE is going to help are unknown but we expect to hear more.
What is Netflix Hailstorm Android TV scaling program, anyway?
The program reduces the number of extra efforts and time that pay-TV operators would otherwise need to take in order to deploy Netflix services on their devices. This program by Netflix helps in removing such barriers, thus giving the operators a faster way to deploy its service on their Android TV devices.
According to Alan Wong, the Netflix Hailstorm Director of Device Scaling claims that this way an operator can integrate Netflix on its Android TV platform in just a few weeks, compared to the previous 12-month period. The aim is to shorten the time-to-market and help the partners scale up further with speed rollouts.
Previously, the ODMs (Original Device Manufacturers) would need to take some strenuous efforts for Netflix integration. This could vary from adjusting things and compliant with requirements to working with different providers in the channel, like Silicon vendor, software provider, and system integrator. That was a complex process for an ODM because it needs to communicate and work with so many different parties and has to be in sync with everyone included in the process. But now the Hailstorm platform offers a well-developed building ground that cuts down several tasks and reduces the partner’s time-to-market of integration.
Of course, there are many other companies onboard that are helping Netflix in building such platforms, apart from now the new partner, ZTE. For instance, the Netflix Hailstorm program includes Amlogic as one of its SoC partners that is responsible to audit several things. It also develops technology capable of processing high-quality video content. Amlogic’s solutions are pre-certified by the Hailstorm program and the company is continuously working with Netflix to pre-certify more of its SoC reference designs and make them ready for all the operators participating in the program. So that the pay-TV operators could integrate the Netflix service faster and scale more efficiently.
While announcing the partners coming onboard for the Hailstorm program, Charlie Zheng, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Sales and Marketing, Skyworth Digital during the Android TV said at a Summit in Bangkok last year,
“The partnership enables quick and easy deployment of new and innovative Android TV STBs, based on a single design, with trusted security implemented at the core. This provides operators with the assurance that their services can be easily maintained and are protected from pirates looking to implement malicious apps and supply illegal content.” He further added, “Fast deployment at scale is essential for operators looking to launch premium services and content.
As per ZTE’s own stats, to date, its set-top boxes have been deployed by more than 120 customers in over 45 countries around the world.
You can learn more about the Hailstorm STB program from the company itself by following this fully-explained article. This covers technicalities and also explains why there is a need for a platform.