MASSIVE WEEKEND MEDIA BOOST FOR TOUCH FOOTBALL AUSTRALIA TEAMS

first_imgTouch Football Australia (TFA) National Representative Teams and squads were involved in a series of camps and events around the Country on the weekend that led to widespread media coverage and massive promotional exposure for the code on a National scale.TFA fielded an Australian Women’s Invitational Team in the Harvey Norman Beach Footy Series at Sydney’s Maroubra beach on the 16-17 December 2006.The event featured six elite teams battling it out for $100,000 in prize money for their choosen charity.Four of the teams – The Blues, the Maroons, the Pacific Islanders, and the Young Guns comprised wall to wall National Rugby League superstars, whilst the Australian Women’s Invitational Beach Footy team, and a Celebrity Team headlined by Andrew Johns, and Anthony Mundine completed the stellar field.The event received massive media exposure in print, radio, and television mediums through broadcast partners Channel Nine, News Limited, and Nova FM, and the Women’s Beach Footy Team were featured prominantly.Among the media exposure TFA received was the front page story of a four page Beach Footy liftout in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Friday, live radio interviews with Women’s players and updates on Nova FM, and 2UE, exposure on several National network news bulletins, and Channel Ten’s Sports Tonight.Channel Nine taped the Beach Footy Series and it will be aired in late February/ early March in the lead-up to the NRL season kick-off.The Australian Men’s Open Team travelled to Rockhampton for their final training camp of their 2007 World Cup campaign and enjoyed saturation exposure from the local media.The Touch Football loving town rolled out the red carpet for Tony Trad’s men and the 3 game series against a Central Queensland combination that featured Rugby League superstar Benji Marshall turning out as an Invitational player for Central Queensland in the last game, received daily print and television coverage in the region.To cap off an exciting time promotionally for the sport, the Australian Open Women’s Team were featured on Channel Ten’s Sports Tonight program Sunday evening in an excellent piece on their record as arguably Australia’s most successful National Women’s sporting Team.The Aussie girls have won 45 World Cup games straight in a 19 year unblemished run in World Cup competition.A further piece on the Australian Men’s Open Team will be featured on Sports Tonight before all seven teams depart Australia’s shores bound for Stellenbosch, South Africa on January 13 2007.There will be media stories circulating in the lead-up to the World Cup on Australian representative players and Teams so keep your eyes peeled for World Cup stories around the nation in coming weeks.last_img read more

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2015 Metro Cup Grand Final Results

first_imgCongratulations to all of the winners of the 2015 Metro Cup grand finals on Saturday. Men’s PremierDodgers 7 defeated Country Club Colts 6Player of the Final – Ethan TaylorWomen’s PremierCountry Club Colts 5 defeated Southern Storm 4Player of the Final – Hayley MaddickMen’s Division OneDodgers 8 defeated Uni Rebels 2Player of the Final – Scott PrinceWomen’s Division OneSouthern Storm 9 defeated Country Club Colts 4Player of the Final – Bec GouldingMen’s Division TwoCountry Club Colts Senior 5 defeated Uni Rebels Junior 4Player of the Final – Jason CampbellWomen’s Division TwoUni Rebels Junior Gold 7 defeated Uni Rebels Senior Blue 3Player of the Final – Tegan Phillips To see highlights from finals day, please visit the Touch Football Australia YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/touchfootballaus.Related LinksMetro Cup Finalslast_img read more

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9 months agoBarcelona coach Valverde coy over plans for Chelsea striker Morata

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Barcelona coach Valverde coy over plans for Chelsea striker Morataby Paul Vegas9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBarcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is coy over talk of a move for Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata this week.Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri fuelled speculation Morata could be set to depart Stamford Bridge when he told reporters on Friday: “If Morata will go to another club we will need a replacement.”Valverde was coy on Barcelona’s reported interest in the Spain international when he was asked directly about Morata ahead of Sunday’s visit of Eibar.”I can only say the same thing,” Valverde said. “That he’s a great player, that he’s at another team and that we respect that a lot.” last_img read more

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Video: Duke Dropped A Cool “Duke In The NBA” Graphic On Twitter

first_imgDuke alumni Kyrie Irving promotion.Duke KyrieDuke is just three days away from beginning its national title defense. The Blue Devils open up Friday night against Siena, but there are over a dozen former players currently in action in the NBA.Like other programs with a large number of NBA alumni, Duke does a good job of playing up its track record on social media. It did so again tonight with a quick “Duke in the NBA” graphic on Twitter. Pretty self-explanatory. There’s background music, as images of ex-Dukies in NBA gear appear and flow from one to the next. Duke forever. #DukeintheNBA #BannerHunters #TheBrotherhood #DukeFam pic.twitter.com/3DnvM2cVcF— Duke Basketball (@dukeblueplanet) November 11, 2015How many members of the 2015-16 Blue Devils will join these guys in the professional ranks next year?last_img read more

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Key Algonquin chief wants tighter rules on who can be part of

first_img(Algonquins of Ontario claim map)Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsThe chief of the Algonquin band at the centre of a massive Ontario land claim says he’d like to see the eligibility criteria for membership tightened as another report surfaced this week questioning the Indigenous heritage of over a third of individuals on the list for an upcoming vote on the modern day treaty covering a large swath of the province, including the city of Ottawa.Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation Chief Kirby Whiteduck said many in his community have expressed concerns about the current eligibility criteria to become part of the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) modern day treaty process. Kirby said he has expressed these misgivings internally and with the negotiators for Ontario and the federal government.“If we do continue this discussion, I think Pikwakanagan is going to be drawing attention to the criteria because Pikwakanagan members are expressing concerns and questions about it,” said Whiteduck, in an interview Friday.A tighter AOO eligibility criteria could mean some on the list to vote next week to approve an interim step along the modern day treaty process, also known as a comprehensive claim, may not qualify to become beneficiaries by the time a final agreement is signed.A report released Thursday by an Algonquin organization based in Quebec claimed to show that over one-third of the individuals on the AOO voters list haven’t had an Indigenous ancestor in their family tree for up to 300 years.The report, released Thursday, was produced by the Algonquin Nation Secretariat (ANS) which represents three Algonquin First Nation in Quebec. Two of the member Algonquin bands have overlapping claims with the AOO claim.The ANS report surfaced as opposition to the AOO has grown within Pikwakanagan ahead of a vote to approve or reject the proposed treaty’s agreement-in-principle (AIP). Voting is scheduled to begin Feb. 29 and run to March 7.Click here for more coverage of Algonquins of Ontario modern day treaty.Opponents from Pikwakanagan First Nation—the only Algonquin First Nation band involved in the vote—plan to hold a protest Sunday.The AOO claim covers about 3.6 million hectares stretching from Algonquin Park east to Hawkesbury, Ont., including Ottawa, and down into territory near Kingston, Ont.  If finalized, the deal would see $300 million in capital funding and 47,550 hectares of Ontario Crown land transferred to the AOO.There are a total of 10 communities that make up part of the AOO claim, but only Pikwakanagan is a recognized band under the Indian Act. The other nine are recognized as Algonquin communities only within the framework of the AOO treaty talks.The ANS report analyzed the ancestry of the 7,714 individuals on the AOO voters list. Of the total, only 663 on the list are from Pikwakanagan itself, the report said. The rest, 7,051, qualified to be on the list as a result of having a “root ancestor” connected to the signatories of petition letters sent by area Algonquins in the 1770s to the Crown seeking reserve lands in what is now known as Ontario.“It…appears that the ‘Algonquins’ who are relying on these root ancestors have had no intermarriage with anyone of Algonquin or Nipissing ancestry for at least 200 and, in some cases, more than 300 years,” said the report, written by Peter Di Gangi and Alison McBride for the ANS.The report concluded that  3,016 individuals on the AOO list, about 39 per cent, fall within this category.“This is our assessment based on the information we had available,” said Di Gangi, director of policy and research for the ANS. “If anyone has information that sheds further light on this that clarifies this, I would love to see it.”The analysis looked at 10 of the root ancestors used by those on the AOO voters list to qualify as potential beneficiaries of the eventual treaty. These root ancestors had origins dating to the 1600s or 1700s, the report said. In the majority of the cases the descendants of these ancestors were French-Canadian over the subsequent 10 to 15 generations which represents as time span of about 300 years, according to the report.The AOO is disputing the ANS report, calling it flawed.“It is unfortunate that this report was released without any effort having been made to seek input from the AOO who compiled the data that was accessed just to see whether the conclusions and the facts upon which those conclusions are based are accurate,” said Robert Potts, the chief negotiator for the AOO. “Clearly the intent of this rush to judgment is to disrupt, if not undermine, the transparent and democratic process that is underway to vote on an (AIP) that will have no legal nor binding impact and is intended to provide a framework for negotiating a treaty.”Potts said the AOO’s own genealogist analyzed the ANS report and found that it had under-counted the number of Pikwakanagan members on the list. Potts said the actual number is 840. He said 179 Pikwakanagan members decided to be represented through one of the nine other Algonquin groupings that are part of the claim.Potts said five of the 10 root ancestors analyzed by the ANS report already faced and passed eligibility challenges through the AOO’s independent adjudication process handled by an elders committee and a retired judge. The five root ancestors met the AOO’s criteria for root ancestors, said Potts. The other five root ancestors have not faced any challenges, he said.“Presumably because there was a lack of credible evidence on which to base such a challenge,” said Potts.The ANS analysis follows a report by Kebaowek First Nation—an Algonquin community based in Quebec—released to APTN earlier this month which studied at a small sample of 200 individuals from the AOO voters list. The Kebaowek report found that 72 of the 200 had only one Algonquin ancestor stretching back six generations.Greg Sarazin, a former Pikwakanagan chief and treaty negotiator, acts as the spokesperson for growing opposition to the modern treaty within the community. He said the current proposed agreement would lead to the extinguishment of Pikwakanagan and its tax-free status under the Indian Act.“The rights of the future of Pikwakanagan, who are the status people, is being decided largely by people who are not status from Pikwakanagan,” said Sarazin, who was chief from 1987 to 1989. “We don’t want this AIP because it will be the end of Pikwakanagan.”The Whiteduck band council recently circulated a question and answer document in an attempt to alleviate concerns. The document says ratification of the modern treaty would not extinguish Pikwakanagan’s reserve status or its tax exemption. The document said those issues would be part of an eventual self-government aspect of the treaty to be dealt with further down the line.Sarazin said the band council is splitting hairs because the current proposed treaty deal puts Pikwakanagan on the path to extinguishment.“We are saying right now, we don’t want to do this,” he said.Sarazin said many Pikwakanagan members were surprised to learn they were not automatically put on the AOO voters list for next week’s vote. He said the band council will be holding a side vote to include all registered band members, but it remains unclear how those results will mesh with the AOO results.“People are fighting for their very existence,” he said.Whiteduck said Pikwakanagan members need to get the full story. He said the AIP is not binding and the final agreement will be improved through more negotiations.“If they say no for legitimate, good reasons then that’s fine, I accept it. But we think we can still change things in the AIP,” said Whiteduck. “If not, we lose the opportunity to improve things and change the things they (the opposition) are looking to have changed…Everything is not going to be exactly what we want in the agreement, but some things will be better…Overall, it is an improvement compared to staying with the status quo and where that takes us.”And the status quo could lead to Pikwakanagan disappearing, said Whiteduck.An internal analysis produced by the band council projected there may be no one left in Pikwakanagan with Indian status within 60 to 70 years as a result of the restrictive status criteria under the Indian Act, said Whiteduck.“Under the current Indian Act regime the membership is going to dwindle and at some point there might be no members, no one with status, everyone will be subject to taxes and the reserve won’t belong to anybody,” said Whiteduck.jbarrera@aptn.ca@JorgeBarreralast_img read more

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Is Alexander Zverev The Next Tennis Superstar

Alexander Zverev, the 20-year-old tennis wunderkind now ranked fourth in the world, has everything a future champion could hope for. He’s tall — 6 foot 6 — yet coordinated. He has a strong serve and hits deadly forehands and backhands. Zverev already has six ATP titles, including two Masters titles he won by beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in finals. There’s just one problem: At Grand Slam tournaments, he’s a dud.There’s no obvious reason why: Zverev looks and trains like a Grand Slam contender. His serve and steady strokes should dominate in best-of-five-set matches, and by all accounts he’s in excellent physical shape. Yet at major tournaments, he struggles and, inevitably, stumbles. In his career as a pro, Zverev has never gone beyond the fourth round at a major, and he only got that far once. He never reached higher than the third round at the Australian Open and French Open, and he topped out at just the second round in the U.S. Open.When you compare Zverev to other current tennis stars, his Slam failures stand out. Active men’s pros who have won majors produced a range of results in their early years.1Through the year in which they turned 20. Rafael Nadal, the most astonishing youngster of the bunch, won 17 ATP tournaments through his age-20 season, including one French Open title. Nadal leads top pros with the highest overall winning percentage, followed by Djokovic, Andy Murray, and then Zverev. Through last year, Zverev even had a winning percentage of .407 against players ranked in the top 10, which was better than that of Federer and Djokovic at the same age, though still only good for fifth best on our list of standouts.2Behind Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka and Murray.But at the Grand Slams, Zverev fades away. He has the second-worst winning percentage among this group, just barely ahead of Juan Martin del Potro. Djokovic, now the winner of 12 major titles, had reached one Grand Slam final before the end of his age-20 season. Andy Murray reached the fourth round at three of the Slams. Even Marin Cilic, who had a losing record in his early years, had a higher winning percentage than Zverev in Slams.Zverev’s early losses don’t seem to have anything to do with unlucky draws, either. Some matches, in fact, are the opposite: He blew wins that, by rankings, should have been his. In 2015, he lost the second round of Wimbledon to a wild card, the small, quick American Denis Kudla. In 2016, Zverev was seeded No. 27 at the U.S. Open when he lost to an unseeded Brit, Daniel Evans. Last year was the worst of all. At the French Open, he lost in the first round to Fernando Verdasco, a 33-year-old solid clay court player, but unseeded. And then at the U.S. Open, Zverev, ranked No. 4 in the world, couldn’t outhit the smaller and unseeded Borna Coric, who won in four sets. (Coric lost his next match.)So far at the Australian Open, Zverev has won two rounds fairly easily and will face another young opponent, 21-year-old Hyeon Chung, who is not seeded, in the third round. If Zverev gets through that round, he could next face Novak Djokovic, who is trying to make a comeback from his right elbow injury. In other words, this just might be an ideal Slam for a strong Zverev run.No matter what happens, though, Zverev has one thing working in his favor: time. Tennis champions are lasting longer these days, but Federer and Nadal won’t be around forever. And Zverev looks like he can still improve. If all goes well, maybe his Grand Slam story will change from struggles to dominance. read more

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Milner optimistic of a positive Reds response

first_imgJames Milner is urging his Liverpool teammates to step up their game after losing two successive games in the League and Cup ties.The Reds slumped to another 2-1 loss at Wolves in the cup on Monday after losing to Man City at the Etihad.With a trip to Brighton next, Milner expects his side to crank up the pressure on City by beating the Seagulls to go seven points clear before their clash with Wolves.“Back-to-back defeats isn’t really good enough for us but you have blips in a season,” said the 33-year-old via Sky.“It’s not something you want, especially at Liverpool, we know what’s expected. We have to make sure we bounce back and look at where we can get better.Top 5 Premier League players to watch for next weekend Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 11, 2019 With the international activity cooling down for the next month, we go back to the Premier League’s Top 5 players to watch this weekend.After…“It’s not about blips, they are expected but it’s how you respond and bounce back. You’ve seen the character in the squad over the last few years, and the players we have, to know we will bounce back.“It’s easier saying that but we have to do that at the weekend.”He said: “I should do better. The pitch all night was a bit tricky and lively. It’s the same for both teams. It was my mistake for the first goal and it’s cost us, if not it’s 1-1 and we get a replay.“It was a pretty good finish from their lad but they didn’t have many chances. We didn’t either but that’s what separated the teams, my mistake and a very good finish for the second goal.”last_img read more

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NYCArea Estate of 1st US SelfMade Woman Millionaire Sold

first_imgIRVINGTON, N.Y. (AP) — The New York estate built a century ago by a daughter of slaves who made her fortune selling hair care products for Black women has been purchased by an organization founded by the owner of Essence magazine.The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Thursday that Madam C.J. Walker’s century-old Italianate villa-style mansion in New York City’s northern suburbs was recently bought by the New Voices Foundation, started by Richelieu Dennis, founder of a skin and hair care products company. A purchase price wasn’t released.This Oct. 19, 1998 file photo shows the Villa Lewaro, century-old Italianate-style mansion that was the home of Madam C.J. Walker, a black entrepreneur considered to be the nation’s first self-made female millionaire, in Irvington, N.Y. (AP Photo/Ed Bailey, File)Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in Louisiana in 1867 to former slaves. After marrying St. Louis newspaperman Charles Joseph Walker, she changed her name to Madam C.J. Walker and began selling her own hair care and beauty products made for Black women, a venture that made her wealthy as her name became known across the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean.Walker is considered the first self-made female millionaire in the United States.She followed her daughter, Lelia Walker Robinson, to Harlem in 1916. Two years later Walker built Villa Lewaro in Irvington, on the Hudson River in Westchester County. By the time she died of a kidney ailment there in 1919, her 34-room mansion had become a gathering place for leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, including W.E.B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes.Dennis, a Liberian immigrant, started Sundial brands in 1992 with his mother, making products based on African healing traditions passed down by his grandmother. He acquired the Walker brand in 2013 and relaunched it in 2016 as Sephora, and purchased Essence from Time Inc. earlier this year.Dennis’ New Voices Foundation, an organization that aids women of color entrepreneurs, will renovate and operate the former Walker estate, he said.“It is a place where — against all odds — dreams were formed, visions were realized and entrepreneurs were born, and we look forward to returning its use to support that mission,” Dennis said in a statement.Dennis’ foundation bought the property in mid-September.Villa Lewaro’s name was taken from the first two letters of each word in Walker’s daughter’s name. The home was designed by Vertner Woodson Tandy, the first licensed Black architect in New York state. Built on the heights overlooking the Hudson’s east bank, the mansion stood out even in an area dotted with estates owned by such wealthy whites as the Rockefellers.Walker’s daughter, who changed her name to A’Lelia, left the estate to the NAACP after she died 1931. The organization, struggling financially during the early years of the Great Depression, sold the property immediately after acquiring it. It had several owners over the next few decades before investment banker Harold E. Doley Jr. and his wife, Helena, bought the property in 1993.The home was named a National Treasure by the Washington, D.C.-based National Trust in 2014. It’s now among a growing number of historically Black properties being protected as part of the organization’s Cultural Heritage Action Fund, started last year to help ensure historical sites important to African-American history are no longer endangered.___This story has been corrected to fix estate ownership to organization founded by magazine owner instead of magazine owner and his family.last_img read more

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Five Cardinals Selected to USA U21 Selection Camp

first_imgStory Links Five University of Louisville field hockey players have been chosen to compete in the 2019 U21 Selection Camp. Alli Bitting, Erica Cooper, Meghan Schneider and newcomers Margot Lawn and Minna Tremonti will represent the Cardinals in December at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa.The UofL student-athletes were selected following the 2019 Young Women’s National Championship (YWNC) and National Futures Championship (NFC), presented by Harrow Sports as they continue on the Olympic Development Pathway. Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more

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CAA Signs Digital Star Roy Purdy

first_img ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 Popular on Variety CAA will work to create opportunities for Purdy in all areas, including motion pictures, television, touring, digital, and endorsements. He is managed by Sam Leigh at inArtists. His attorney is Ashley Silver at Bloom Hergott.center_img CAA has signed Roy Purdy, the digital star who boasts 7.6 million followers across his social media channels.As a music artist, Purdy’s singles have collectively generated more than 20 million streams on Spotify, Apple, and Soundcloud, while his music videos have garnered over 17 million YouTube views. The video for Purdy’s recent single, “Oh Wow,” has nearly 4 million views, to date. Other songs include “Walk it Out,” “Who Run It,” and “I’m Just Doing Me.” He is currently working on his first album.In addition to his digital platform, Purdy has worked with such brands as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Under Armor, EA Sports, and Axe, and has an exclusive branded apparel and accessories line at 300 Zumiez stores across the country. He also is pro-level skater and continues to compete against the likes of other skaters like Nyjah Huston.last_img read more

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From being an alsoran in the TV operating system

first_imgFrom being an also-ran in the TV operating system space, Google’s Android TV could be set to sweep all before it, following the introduction of the service provider-friendly Operator Tier. Stuart Thomson reports.There are many reasons to believe that rumours of the death of TV are greatly exaggerated. One such reason is that global technology giants such as Google and Apple have long coveted TV as an untapped market and have made a number of attempts to gain a foothold in it, both in services and in technology to enable those services.For Google, which has made a number of attempts to position Android TV as an entry point into the TV service provider market with limited success, the last year has seen a major breakthrough. Its technology has made phenomenal progress as the platform of choice for service providers. The trigger was the introduction of the Android TV Operator Tier, which finally laid to rest many of the fears and concerns operators had about getting up close and personal with Google.Operator TierThe introduction of the Operator Tier gave life to Google’s strategy of trying to penetrate the service provider market, something that its previous efforts had largely failed to achieve. Hitherto, operators had the choice of surrendering their independence by adopting Google’s TV platform wholesale – effectively giving the tech giant control of their customer data as well as the look and feel of their service and reducing their own presence to that of an app on Google’s service – or by opting for the Android Open Source Project, the initiative whereby Google made most – but not all – of the elements of the Android source code available royalty-free to third parties to develop their own proprietary devices and services.“Originally the Android Open Source Project was a technical platform used by Swisscom but it took a huge effort to build something,” says Kai Christian Borchers, CEO of 3Screen Solutions, one of the leading providers of Android Operator Tier launchers for service providers. “No other operators were willing to play [with Android TV] and lose complete control over their set-top box and customer experience.”Adopting Android TV meant giving Google complete control of customer data and having the final word over the line-up of channels as well as taking charge of search results.Having failed to make much headway with this less than enticing prospect, Google undertook a rethink and ultimately came up with the Android TV Operator Tier. The main staging post was enabling custom launchers that gave operators control of their own user interface. Canal Digital in Norway was among the first operators to build its own custom launcher for the platform, ultimately transitioning to the full-fledged Operator Tier along with fellow Swedish service provider and leading cable operator Com Hem.Whereas previously operators’ services would simply be one app among many, with the Operator Tier they can control the experience from the home screen.“From the operator’s perspective there are more options to customise the user experience and to be able to brand it,” says Shankar Nagarajan (left), vice-president of products at technology provider Seachange. “Having a custom launcher makes things really interesting for our customers.”The Operator Tier has fuelled an explosion in Android TV deployments globally, leading technology providers to focus efforts closely on the Android TV market. “The operator community has a large installed base of Linux set-top boxes out there and we continue to support those and innovate on them,” says Chris Thun, vice-president of product management, TiVo. “But the Android TV space is where we see the bulk of the growth.”Reasons to be AndroidAndroid TV has a strong appeal for operators for two key reasons. The primary one is that it opens out an almost infinite array of services for the operator to offer to its customers. The second is that Android TV provides a platform with the scale to deliver highly affordable set-tops and a big potential base of app developers to create new applications and services.Com Hem chief technology officer Thomas Helbo says that changing consumer behaviour was the key reason the cable operator decided to adopt Android TV, along with the flexibility and fast time to market that the platform enables. While set-top upgrades in the past often took up to two or three years, operators are being faced with demands for more advanced services from customers used to seeing rapid changes in the user-experience associated with Netflix and other OTT companies. “We see ourselves as content aggregators,” says Helbo, who adds that speed of development was another factor in leading it towards Android TV.A third element, says Helbo, is “reputation”. Cable operators are increasingly seen as somewhat old-fashioned incumbent players and Com Hem had an ambition to shed this perception. The Swedish operator also provides services over multiple networks – not just HFC cable – and adopting Android TV accommodated that.“We needed something that could accommodate all the different platforms – cable, digital-terrestrial and multicast IP over open fibre networks – that we operate on,” says Helbo. “Then you also have the growing attractiveness of OTT.” He says that the operator needed “a Swiss knife” in the shape of a set-top that can cover all bases and handle the transition to non-linear, web-based content.Helbo (left) says that Com Hem looked at multiple options before taking a decision. These included relying on a major turnkey technology provider, which offered a great degree of stability and in-depth knowledge of TV. However, for relatively small players, it is often difficult to command attention to meet the needs of local regulations and other requirements.The second option was RDK, the cable-centric initiative to create an open source platform for operators on which service provider-specific implementations can be built. However, the platform requires operators to have signfiicant resources to accelerate the development of the complete user experience.With Android TV Operator Tier, on the other hand, “you get the flexibility of integrating broadcast TV with all of the OTT TV services you need”, he says. Operators like this, says Helbo, because they get “all the flexibility from integrating broadcast TV with OTT services and they see this as attractive because it is the closest they get to a standardised platform”’.The introduction of the Operator Tier has gone a long way to mitigate service providers’ fears about Google by giving operators access to a customised user interface, which has always been key for operators’ brands, says Helbo.“The Operator Tier gives you a customised UI and that has always been the strength of operators,” he says.Helbo admits that being tied to Google may carry some risk, but points out that operators always have the option of replacing it at some point in the future if the tech giant’s policies change.In any case, he says, Google has shown itself keen to “make it a success for both parties” and is continuing to move in more operator-friendly direction rather than the opposite. By contrast, he says, the old Android Open Source Project was a more-or-less closed-off environment that did not offer support for next-generation technologies such as Google Assistant and future smart home functionality.Confidence that Google will not change its policies in a way that alienates operators is broadly shared. TiVo’s Thun says that it is still the case with Android TV Operator Tier that “the operators don’t control the rule-book any more”, unlike in the Linux world. It is possible that Google could change its priorities in the future. However, he says, Google is unlikely to do something that is against operators’ interests because the tech giant wants a big slice of this pie and doesn’t see it as in its interests to alienate a rapidly growing customer base.Moreover, the likes of Com Hem’s comfort with the platform signifies that its appeal is not limited to IPTV providers. Cable operators, traditionally more inclined to build something bespoke with the aid of trusted partners, are now also looking to Android TV as a solution, according to Seachange’s Nagarajan.“There was reluctance in the cable space to ‘look like everyone else’ but the Operator Tier has unlocked this market. Operators can control the experience with the benefit that their customers can do cross-platform searches and so on,” he says.OTT TV servicesThere is broad consensus that the biggest element in the appeal of Android TV to operators is that it opens up quick and easy access to a vast array of OTT TV services via the Google Play store.“The foremost reason that operators are looking at Android TV is the ease with which you can incorporate OTT services,” says TiVo’s Thun. “Google Play is priority number one.”3Screen TV’s Borchers agrees. “We see that cable and IPTV customers want more than just TV. They want linear TV, video-on-demand and DVR but the main thing [they want] is integration of third-party services like Netflix and Amazon,” he says. With the Operator Tier, service providers have immediate access to the Google Play store, giving access to a wide range of popular OTT TV services. Adopting the platform means that Netflix comes already integrated, something that can take additional work with alternative platforms such as RDK or the Android Open Source Project.The other key advantage provided by the Android TV Operator Tier platform is that provides what technology providers describe as the closest the industry has achieved to a standardised set-top environment.Borchers says that Android TV now has the support of around 40 operators including those in the pipeline to deploy it – not all of whom are Operator Tier adopters – compared with about 13 for its main rival, the cable-centric RDK. While many of the Android adopters are relatively small compared with, say, Liberty Global, the likely growth trajectory of these and other entrants will be “very hard to compete with”, says Borchers.That standardised environment includes the power of Google search and recommendation, enabling users to search across different content silos, according to Borchers, who adds that the introduction of the Operator Tier has enabled service providers to ensure that their own content is prioritised in search results.The Android TV environment also enables operators to tap into the deep well of Android developers, rather than finding developers who can work with platforms with smaller footprint. “Even Android developers are hard to find because it is a high-demand market,” says Borchers.TiVo’s Thun meanwhile highlights the ease of integration of the platform, pointing to the amount of work that needs to be done to build a service on Linux set-top boxes.By comparison with Android TV, platforms such as the cable-centric RDK require possibly a greater effort on the part of operators.Neverthelesss, some service providers may prefer to go their own way rather than hitch their wagon to Google’s star, particularly if they are so reluctant to open up their platform completely to OTT TV services. “There are still customers out there who are not willing to open up their environment entirely to third-party apps,” says Robert Rozycki, senior product manager at Seachange. “However, if an operator accepts that the most important thing is to keep the customer inside that environment, but with a greater choice, then Android is the one to go for.”Seachange’s Nagarajan adds that large cable operators are more likely to be reluctant to offer a product provided by Google and more likely to want to fully control the user experience.However, while those players have the engineering resources in house to look to RDK or another solution, smaller players lack that luxury. They are more likely to find Android TV, which gives them voice-enabled search and recommendation as part of the package, for example, attractive.Anthony Smith-Chaigneau (right), senior director of product marketing at TV technology outfit Nagra, says that some large operators are still likely to have concerns about control of data, which will be key to making revenue from advanced services in the future. “Not everyone wants to get into bed with Google. There’s still a question over how much you might want to give up and how much you want full control over. A lot of people are still juggling with that and analysing the pros an cons.”For Smith-Chaigneau, the key advantage of opting for Android TV is less to do with the uniqueness of the technology, but about the Google ecosystem and what it can bring for operators. The scale provided by Google has driven down the cost of sophisticated high-specification set-top boxes, he adds.“It has driven down the price significantly and for that you you get the high-powered set-top that Android TV needs,” he says. There is now a homogenous set-top platform available supported by a wide array of suppliers, something that is relatively new to a market where set-top suppliers in the past typically focused on the platforms that were popular at a particular time.TiVo’s Thun agrees that the cost of set-top boxes is a key factor in calculating the merits of Android TV. “It gives you standardisation of the set-top requirements that drives the box cost down from about US$200 to about US$50-70. While the industry has seen that price point before, what we are talking about here is a full-powered set-top that can support all the streaming services out there,” he says.The Android TV ecosystem includes chipset, middleware and front-end user experience providers. The middleware needs to work with the specific box chipsets and there are different types of chipsets for hybrid boxes that include tuners for broadcast channels as well as IP. A number of chipset providers are in the queue to be certified by Google. Among box manufacturers, Technicolor currently has the lion’s share of the market, with Asian manufacturers trying to catch up.Software provider 3Screen Solutions has provided the reference implementation of the platform through its 3Ready platform, and Borchers says that Google has asked his company to deliver more integrations with set-top middleware providers.Borchers sees relatively little risk for operators. He points out that, in the past, service providers feared being too closely aligned with single set-top suppliers and an eight-year lifecycle for a particular generation of box. That equation has not fundamentally changed in the case of Android TV, he says.Borchers goes to far as to argue that Android TV could effectively take poll position in the cable market as well as among telecom operators, pointing to the example of Com Hem, which has been among the pioneers of Android TV Operator Tier.Android TV Operator Tier is also able to support hybrid deployments, combining legacy broadcast technology with streaming. Seachange’s Rozycki says that Google “did not have a clear policy about hybrid”, which has largely been left to software and hardware vendors. In addition to supporting the use of traditional broadcast infrastructure to deliver linear services, he says that there is potentially a significant market among operators with large populations of legacy devices in the field that they do want to swap out.Software companies see plenty of opportunities around Android TV. “You can’t deploy Android TV as it is,” says Nagra’s Smith-Chaigneau. “It needs to be part of a fuller ecosystem. It needs an operator back-end to deliver TV features such as linearised video-on-demand and a backwards EPG and security.”Smith-Chaigneau says that technology companies can play a role as system integrators. “Android TV makes things more plug-and-play, but the pay TV ecosystem is the sum of many parts that need to be knitted together,” he says. “While deploying an Android TV solution, you are still looking at formats from UHD down to mobile TV and to distribute to iOS devices and Amazon Fire TV. You have to be open to a whole range of end devices with different operating systems. Android is not going to be the only flavour in the market.”Nagra also has a role to play in helping to secure a platform that some observers believe is open to potential attack. Hanno Impola, senior director of product marketing at Nagra, says that one key to providing enhanced security against “the large attack surface” of Android TV has been to separate the Trusted Execution Environment, which handles entitlements and licences and security-related actions, from the Rich Execution Environment, which runs all the third-party apps on the platform. “We can keep any malicious apps and hacking attempts in the Rich Execution Environment,” he says. “We have build a virtual brick wall between the two that effectively blocks any attempt to access the Trusted Execution Environment via the Rich Execution Environment.”Future developmentsWill Android TV sweep all before it thanks to the momentum behind the Android TV Operator Tier?3Screen Solutions’ Borchers goes so far as to say that his company has seen the market for Linux set-tops “completely dry up” and that he has encountered “no requests for Linux boxes” for the best part of a year. However, others make the case that Android’s popularity does not mean that it will be the only game in town. TiVo’s Thun argues that “innovation in this industry takes time” and that Linux-based platforms are not going to “disappear overnight” because of the “very large historical investment” that operators have made.For some observers, the most significant rival platform is not one of the existing middleware providers or the RDK platform, or another global tech giant entering the market, but the ‘bring your own device’ strategy looked at by a number of operators that are happy to distribute their services via an app on a third-party device, at least to the growing device-savvy Millennial market. The appeal of this approach can be seen in decisions by Swiss operator Sunrise and France’s Canal+ to supply Apple TV to their customers.TiVo’s Thun adds a note of caution, arguing that Android TV is really “in the middle of the spectrum” between Linux-based platform and the BYOD world, which he characterises as being at a relatively early stage of development. “There is a wide variety of things that operators need to be comfortable with before that becomes widespread,” he says.The proliferation of Android TV on the one hand, and BYOD on the other, does not close off the service provider market to other technology providers, and Thun makes the point that Android TV is not a technology cure-all for operators. “Android TV is often portrayed as a disruptor to the pay TV industry, but that is a misrepresentation,” he says. “Android TV is a set-top box operating system. It does not provide everything an operator needs.”One of the main opportunities for software providers catering to the Android TV market now is to enable a seamless multiscreen experience, says Thun, who sees a role for his company as an enabler of a seamless user experience across multiple dimensions, including Android TV on the set-top, iOS in mobile and so on. “You don’t want five different user experiences across those different devices,” he says.For operators including Sweden’s Com Hem, meanwhile, integration of Google Assistant and smart home functionality in general is on the horizon. Helbo says that integration of Google Assistant, which has only just been launched in Sweden, “is definitely on the roadmap” along with smart home functionality more generally.“The important thing for us is to see the TV box integrated as a communications device within the home and to make us the default choice for HDMI1,” he says. “We should be the main communications and entertainment device for the family.”last_img read more

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