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What is RDK (and why is partnership essential for pay TV operators)?

RDK is the future of managed operator devices. But pay tv operators need to get smart about partnership to seize the opportunity in front of them.

Home > What is RDK (and why is partnership essential for pay TV operators)?

Jul 22, 2020

By Marta

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by JT Taylor, Product Marketing, Synamedia

Incredible content and innovative viewing experiences are at the heart of Infinite Entertainment.

But as video rapidly evolves, the operator-managed devices that manifest services into new viewing experiences are falling behind.

Part of the problem is that while set top boxes (STB) used to be the primary source of a joined-up viewing experience in the home, today they’re a single piece of a fragmented whole.

And as audiences juggle more devices and platforms to find the blend of live, linear and VOD content they love, traditional STBs need to evolve to keep up—continuously bringing new features, services and functionality to viewers.

Enter the Reference Design Kit (RDK) —the open-source future of managed operator devices.


What is RDK?

 The Reference Design Kit is a modular, fully-integrated software stack that any operator can use to develop and launch services on a huge range of broadband, broadcast or hybrid CPE hardware.

RDK creates a huge opportunity to transform the STB devices at the end of your network from a static content viewpoint into a foundation for richer, more dynamic and more engaging viewing experiences.

The result is an entirely new vector for operators to leap to the top of the value chain—a flexible, intelligent platform on which to continuously innovate and enhance the customer experience. Using RDK, operators can:

  • Quickly develop and release new OTT apps (as well as supporting ones from third-parties)
  • Support innovative new capabilities like voice control and intelligent content discovery
  • Leverage rich user behavior data straight from the source—to improve services and content discovery and deliver addressable advertising

This great software shift is inevitable. But for operators looking to develop and launch an RDK offering, there are multiple routes forward.


Why is RDK the best software platform for managed devices?

RDK is just a toolbox. The degree to which you can use it to improve the customer experience depends on your approach and your priorities.

For a start, RDK isn’t the only solution for video providers evaluating their client software for video. With Android TV, for instance, you can achieve lots of flexibility and control over your stack—but that freedom necessarily carries technical requirements that aren’t entirely focused on the managed video business.

The big advantage of RDK  is that it’s been developed and endorsed by Comcast—a company with deep roots in managed video. And that means a lot of the hard work of building and scaling an enterprise-ready RDK offering has already been done.

And as we’ll go on to see, the best thing video operators enjoy with RDK is the ability to focus their efforts and resources where they’ll count most: on the customer experience.


Why video operators need an RDK partner

Developing an RDK offering is a huge opportunity to innovate the viewing experiences you provide through the devices you manage.

But it’s also a significant technical challenge. One that needs to be carefully integrated with your existing services and technology environment—and built for your future ambitions.

And crucially—as is so often the case with video innovation—the operators that move fastest will set the baseline for everyone else to meet. That means you need an approach that’s fast, safe and visionary all at the same time.

Taken together, there’s little doubt that the path of least resistance for quickly bringing a stable, future-proof RDK offering to market is through partnering with an experienced video specialist.

And that’s exactly what Enterprise RDK is designed to deliver. It’s an integration and productization of RDK across a foundation of video and broadband managed devices, along with device management of cloud services


What Enterprise RDK partnership delivers

With an eRDK partnership you’ll get the best of both worlds: a production-ready enterprise RDK solution that’s built to grow without the pain of having to create or manage anything that doesn’t directly contribute to the customer experience.

An eRDK partner takes care of everything that doesn’t actively add value (from distribution to integrating your environment with the RDK stack) so you’re free to focus on the features that matter to your business (and your customers).

But it also means your RDK platform will directly benefit from the specific expertise your partner brings to the table (like industry-leading STB hardening, proactive piracy disruption or even influence over the RDK development roadmap).

RDK solutions are most valuable when they’re a vector of agility—when video operators have the freedom and control to test, iterate and launch new services and features with zero friction.

And that’s exactly what Enterprise RDK delivers.

If you want to find out more about why eRDK is the key to delivering next-gen video experiences over managed OTT and hybrid OTT/broadcast devices, take a look at our eRDK-at-a-glance brochure. 


About the Author

JT Taylor is responsible for developing and driving all product marketing, sales enablement, and thought leadership initiatives for three areas of the Synamedia portfolio: Infinite Platform, a cloud powered multiscreen video platform to process, secure, and distribute premium experiences across all devices; Foundation Platform, currently deployed to over 93 million homes around the globe; and the massively scalable Cloud DVR. When he’s not wearing his marketing hat, JT is busy trying to improve his golf handicap on the fairways of Atlanta, Georgia.

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