iHeartRadio Launches its Roku App

October 5, 2018

This post from Will McGee, Head of Strategic Partnerships, is the second of three in our Roku blog series. Read the first post in this series.
iHeartRadio, a free broadcast and internet radio platform, launched an AppleTV app in 2016, broadening the range of devices from which listeners could access and enjoy their favorite music. Globant worked alongside iHeartRadio to design and build this app, which was well received after its initial release and remains so to this day—iHeartRadio’s app boasts an average 4.4-star rating in the App Store.
When iHeartRadio decided to launch a Roku app as well, they enlisted Globant’s help in replicating the app’s already-successful AppleTV experience on a new platform. The engagement was a challenging one; the translation of an app built for one platform to an app built for an entirely different platform is a difficult process to navigate. Roku and AppleTV are different devices with different remote control capabilities, and each requires different software development kits (SDK) and certification requirements.
In addition to these technical challenges, Globant had to account for features unique to the Roku experience. Roku’s navigation model differs significantly from AppleTV’s, and their platform employs interactive advertising. In addition, Roku doesn’t use animations in the same way AppleTV does due to its low CPU restraints. Replicating the animations that AppleTV users have come to enjoy on Roku was no easy feat. Globant’s team had to find a way to build for these features while still engineering the same app experience that iHeartRadio listeners love and expect.
Globant was, in part, able to navigate these challenges and surpass iHeartRadio’s initial expectations because of the thorough training its developers receive through its in-house Roku Dev Academy. Globant’s team created an iHeartRadio Roku app that fully replicates listeners’ positive experiences with the company’s AppleTV app, defeating the commonly-held industry assumption that these experiences are unique to a specific platform and cannot be recreated.
Before Globant built iHeartRadio’s Roku app, it was unheard of to reproduce an AppleTV app on a different platform. More and more media companies wanted to deliver the same sleek, sexy appeal of an AppleTV on other platforms, but there was no playbook for doing so. Globant had to write its own.
Performance-first thinking was critical, especially given the number of high-end and low-end devices that must be supported for Roku. Globant prioritized performance cost across all devices, which was key to ensuring a universal user-friendly experience.
Globant also created branches in the code to create a few proofs of concept (POC) to determine the best way to execute these AppleTV-like animations without breaking the app’s UI or degrading the app’s overall performance.
Globant’s work on the iHeartRadio app broke new ground in the industry. Media companies now have proof that replicating beloved AppleTV app experiences on a different platform is not only possible, but wildly successful. These companies are now able to provide quality experiences across more devices to a broader and broader audience.

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The Media and Entertainment Studio designs, builds, and launches premium video experiences across all types of consumer devices that drive user engagement and increase monetization. We partner with our clients to build meaningful relationships with their customers by providing the most effective and relevant ways of creating, managing, delivering, and monetizing content.