Do Retail DVRs Have a Chance?

DVR fortune cookie

There’s a lot of bad news on the retail set-top front. According to the NCTA, the number of retail CableCARD devices deployed has dropped to 600,000 from 603,000 since August. No big surprise. Despite a few flickers of life, the retail CableCARD market has been on a path of decline for years. But then there’s also the news that Intel has gone belly up with its OnCue set-top plans, and even Amazon is delayed with its Kindle-branded set-top, that was supposed to go to market before year end.

Do future retail DVRs have a shot?

Well, actually, yes. 

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Simple.TV & Silicon Dust Join Forces For OTA Goodness

Simple.TV and Silicon Dust are joining forces for the second iteration of Simple.TV, due later this year, by leveraging their respective software/services and hardware skills. In speaking with Simple CEO Mark Ely last week, the companies appear to be addressing most of my gen 1 concerns. First, the updated hardware will feature a new Zenverge transcoder with … Read more

Making The Case For Aereo

aereo-verge

My Twitter pal Michael Turk, whose name you may recognize from a tenure at the NCTA, recently wrote up his disdain for Aereo:

You know what is 100% free and doesn’t require any payment to the cable industry? Broadcast TV. This guy is suggesting people pay money every month – albeit to a different company – to watch something that is broadcast OVER THE AIR. […] if all you are watching are broadcast channels, you certainly don’t need to be paying Aereo or anyone else for it.

While Turk makes some reasonable points regarding onerous retransmission fees and Aereo’s legal challenges, there’s way more to the service than basic access to broadcast channels. $8/month grants you access to two micro antennas and 20 hours of cloud DVR storage space (or $12 for 40hrs). So not only does Aereo provide “live” broadcast television, but you can schedule season passes and the like. Further, you’re not confined to a television and set-top box in your home as Aereo pretty much allows you to watch your live and recorded television programming via any modern browser… including the ones found on our smartphones and tablets.

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Aereo Headed to Smart TVs

At yesterday’s VideoSchmooze conference in New York, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia told the audience that his company will soon release more applications for the 10-foot television experience. Aereo is planning to launch apps for a variety of smart TVs shortly, and for adjunct TV devices, including the Roku. Aereo has a private channel for the … Read more

Is Roku Really Kicking Cable's Butt?

roku-2-versus-xds-appletv

VentureBeat’s run a rather provocative headline that declares “Roku is kicking the cable industry’s butt.” Yet, it’s not exactly clear how they could be.

First thing first, we’re big fans of Roku. In fact, we were amongst the very first to purchase their original Netflix streamer, currently own several modern boxes, and named the $50 Roku LT as “a box of the year” in 2011. Yet, even with all that love, we just don’t see any way that Roku could be kicking cable’s butt.

In terms of numbers, Roku has moved about 2.5 million boxes. That represents one time sales and a small but growing recurring revenue share. Beyond that, Roku isn’t actually profitable. Meaning they spend more money than they ingest. Compared to say a Comcast. Yeah, they may have lost 19,000 cable customers last quarter but that still leaves them will more than 22 million households… who pay them each and every month for premium television services.

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Cutting The Cord's Not So Hard… When You Steal

Earlier this week, as part of PBS Mediashift‘s 2012 guide to “Cutting the Cord” one entry in the series covered the darker side of this phenomenon: I catch my favorite shows, new and classic movies, real-time sports, and breaking news for free, on my TV, through the Internet. […] There is the legal way, and the … Read more

Aereo: the Good, the Bad, and Where It Could Get Ugly

Aereo logo and antenna array

Fox network creator Barry Diller introduced a new over-the-top video service yesterday called Aereo. Many are already calling it dead in the water, but there are several reasons I’m more optimistic about Aereo than competitive OTT services launched in recent years.

To take a step back, Aereo is offering a service that delivers broadcast TV stations over IP and bundles them with a DVR. Stations are available on iOS and Roku devices, with Android, PC and Mac browser support scheduled to kick in by mid-March. The service is $12 a month, and is currently invitation-only in New York. Aereo will open up to the public in NYC on March 14th.

In order to be successful, Aereo will have to deliver stellar quality of service. These are free broadcast TV channels after all, which means people can use their own antennas to get the same content at no cost. However, in addition to the DVR add-on (which is pretty compelling in itself for today’s non-cable households), Aereo promises decent picture quality – no need to futz with antenna positioning or manipulate around dead zones. That’s a potential combination of DVR, picture quality and convenience. Not bad.

In addition, I think Aereo’s got a few other things going for it: 

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Don't Cut The Cord. Cut The Inconvenience.

Boxee, makers of software powering digital media streaming boxes and computers, recently launched a campaign that seemingly encourages folks to “cut the cord” (and find fulfillment via their new Live TV USB dongle):

Yes, there are hundreds of cable channels, but make a list of the stuff you actually watch. You will probably find that most are on broadcast and the rest are available on Vudu/Netflix/Network sites. What is left on your list? Is it really worth $85 a month? We believe the combination of Netflix/Vudu/Vimeo/TED/etc. with over-the-air channels delivers a much better experience for less money.

Let’s skip for a moment the fact that most modern televisions tune over-the-air HD broadcasts and so Boxee’s cost “savings” pitch fails to incorporate their hardware fees. Instead, we’d rather focus on Boxee’s spat with the cable industry. And the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) takes issue with Boxee’s possible hypocrisy:

Instead of telling regulators that its service is a replacement for pay TV service, they now seem to be saying that their service is dependent on subscription TV and that regulators must… wait for it… dictate how cable service is delivered to its customers. Yes, that is correct. This cord-cutting, end-of-cable-as-we-know-it dynamo is demanding that the FCC not allow cable systems to scramble its basic service tier

Read moreDon't Cut The Cord. Cut The Inconvenience.