Can I have my payment provider integrated with my TV Apps to charge for rental or download of content within my App?
July 26, 2018
Your payment gateway and payment provider, such as Authorize.net or Stripe, is only one small part within any eCommerce/Store system. While payment providers like Stripe can be used within your website’s store, they cannot just be “added” to a TV App to automatically process purchases within the app. The app stores/platforms (Roku, FireTV, AndroidTV, etc…) do not support, nor allow it. They have their own payment processing systems for in-app purchases, entirely subject to their terms, as well as subject to revenue shares withheld by the app-stores and initial development costs for programming your TV Apps to utilize an app-store’s internal in-app purchase service.
When it comes to external payment providers, commonly used on websites, there is no option to just “integrate” your payment provider within a TV App in order to sell something. It doesn’t work like that unfortunately. We wish it was that easy, but TV Apps are not like websites. They are, in fact, closed environments based on a specific SDK/APK the platform provider / app store provides, they operate entirely in submission to each app-store’s/OTT platform’s terms, and are subject to review and approval by each app-store/OTT platform. This makes them entirely different from website’s. When coming with expectations from website development, where “anything goes”, nothing is subject to review and approval, and anything can built as long as browsers can load it, this is the first elementary fact about OTT apps which has to be understood, acknowledged and respected. Every publisher on OTT publishes at the OTT platform’s / app-store’s discretion and terms, and there is no “right to be published” which can be demanded.
There are several reasons why app-store’s need to enforce their terms with publishers. Here are two major reasons:
1. TV Apps have to be installed and run on hardware devices (set-top-boxes, HDMI sticks, TV Screens) and, unlike websites, do not open in browsers on a computer or mobile device. The manufacturers of the TV hardware devices and their OS therefore have to control the functionality, appearance, and remote-controllable functionality of apps submitted to their app stores. OTT platforms ensure this by enforcing the use of SDKs/APKs (app frameworks with specific, pre-approved templates) and by requiring all new apps, and changes to existing apps, to be submitted for their review and approval.
2. OTT platforms (app-stores, device manufacturers) have, over the past 18 months, become increasingly interested in receiving a share of the revenue publishers generated from subscriptions, TVOD (PPV, downloads, rental) or advertising. Revenue shares from publishers may become a valuable revenue source to OTT platforms in addition to the margins from sales of their hardware devices (set-top-boxes, HDMI sticks, TV Screens).
While OTT can lead to the success of producers, aggregators, distributors of content, unlike with websites, not everything (every design, layout or functionality) which can be imagined, can also be built and launched within an OTT / TV App. However, just like with websites, all development does cost money, and all development is subject to the terms of, and to submission, review and approval, by each app-store.
Rather than an empty canvas upon anything can be painted, picture your OTT / TV Apps as a lot with a set foundation, but with a variety of different home models you can choose from (number of floors, rooms, designs, decors, outfits) which you can build upon the given foundation. Every app-store can be thought of as a community or sub-division of individual homes, with all homes varying in contents, interiors and layout within a given selection of models in order to ensure to keep a consistent, and architecturally consistent, appearance. Knowing this up front will make you much happier as a new OTT publisher.