Smart TV Apps

   Critically Endangered small

Apps created for smartphones. Many are deprecated quickly but others survive through multiple update cycles. It is hard to maintain version control and often dependent upon the company that publishes them. There is no clear agency or mandate to record or collect.

Digital Species: Apps

New Entry

Consensus Decision

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is a priority.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve | Inevitability

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed, the material will likely have been lost.


UlangoTV; ITV Hub; Plex; apps created for older or no longer manufactured TVs.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Device dependence; Poor documentation; Lack of preservation interest or mandate by company; Deletion of stores or apps.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Strong documentation; Development of tools to archive stores and preserve menus online via the WARC format, and for HTML5 and Flash only based smart TV media; Designated repository taking preservation responsibility and capacity to deliver.

2023 Review

This is a new Bit List entry added in 2023 to draw attention to the particular challenges of content and software preservation for apps designed and used for smart TVs. While there are some similarities with the ‘Smartphone Apps’ entry in regard to device dependency, frequent updates, and lack of preservation interest or mandate by companies that publish them, this entry focuses on the distinct risks relating to the availability and access to apps made specifically for smart TVs, which can be more short-lived, variable, and challenging to access and find a rootable version for preservation actions. These apps, designed and used specifically for smart TVs, are deprecated quickly or undergo frequent updates. It is challenging to maintain version control and preserve the content. Preservation efforts often depend upon the availability and access to rootable versions of the apps by the companies that publish them, particularly for older TVs that are no longer manufactured. There also remains a lack of clear agency or mandate to record or collect from corporate owners and barriers to access for preservation efforts outside this context.

Additional Comments

The 2023 Bit List Council also recommends that the next major review for the Bit List consider creating a new ‘Broadcast’ species group where this entry may be better suited. Council members additionally noted that it may be better to have a broader smart device apps entry rather than specifically Smart TV Apps and Smartphone Apps as separate standalone entries. The risks posed by these apps can apply to a variety of devices; for example, before Smartphones there were PDAs, and there are now Smart fridges, set-top-boxes, fire sticks, e-book readers, and other devices which have apps. For this reason, they recommend that the next major review for the Bit List includes a rescoping of Smart TV Apps and Smartphone Apps to consider: What differentiates these apps from others? What cultural heritage purpose do these apps serve? Are organizations collecting them? Are there distinct aggravating factors or risk profiles?

In regard to preservation actions, rooting methods for old smart TVs are often non-existent or hard to do (and sometimes manageable when they do exist); it is challenging to buy or find owners of older smart TV units with removed-from-the-store apps that have rootable versions and/or is willing to root.

The content these apps contain can hold social and cultural significance; they can provide a history of television, entertainment, and exclusive or unique content only made available through the apps specifically designed for smart TVs. Although there is a small community of people interested in old smart TVs and a bigger one focused on new ones too; In the future, when the technologies become even more obsolete, there will be researchers and others interested in looking back at Smart TVs as a piece of the history of entertainment and even culture.

Case Studies or Examples:

  • The nominator of this entry provided UlangoTV as an example of an archive of old smart TV apps. The domain of UlangoTV, an app that aggregated live Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) streams, was taken down by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE). Domain records show that is now owned by the Motion Picture Association, indicating an agreement and handover took place; at the time of writing, servers hosting the smart TV app archive are currently in an evidence locker with no indications for releasing without paying to get the full archive. See Maxwell, A. (2020) ‘ACE Shuts Down UlangoTV ‘Pirate’ IPTV App, Seizes Domain’, TorrentFreak News. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • The postmarketOS wiki offers a central guide on smart TV rooting methods for different models. postmarketOS (n.d.) ‘Category:TV’. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

Scroll to top