“How do you manage software updates so that your players are protected while minimizing the chance of downtime due to complications?”
Software updates/patches are the necessary evil that can protect your players and keep them running. That said, they can also be the reason a player goes offline. At Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO), most of our signs are not near each other and very hard to access, so reliability and uptime is critical. Your displays should be as secured as possible and kept off the Internet. The most important thing you can do to mitigate outages is to test everything in a lab environment and never depend on a third-party when they tell you the path is safe. Partially because we have our own CMS solution, we have a significant lab that allows us to test our own updates as well as patches, antivirus, etc. We also have a pilot process where we phase in patches over a few displays, then a few markets prior to any mass rollout.