Aug 15, 2013

As The World Turns

Add today to the list of days where it feels like the TV industry is in a totally different place than it was when you went to sleep last night.

Two big developments.

Roku has surpassed Apple TV in number of users. According to a study by Parks and Associates, of the 14% of US homes that own a streaming device, 37% are using a Roku vs the 24% using an Apple TV.

That's a curious number given that Apple TV has outsold Roku - As of April 2013, Roku had sold 5 million units vs 10 million for Apple TV. My guess is that the same people are buying both devices and that the greater channel selection on Roku (Amazon in particular) has them using the Roku more often. I am open to hearing other theories if you have them.

Whatever the reason, that's a big boost for Roku, a device I am personally quite fond of -- I own three, one for each TV-- and it will be interesting to see what effect Google's Chromecast has on them. It's a critical duel over interface, pitting Roku's model of having the box control the TV experience against the Chromecast model of using the phone or the tablet as the "brains" of the operation.

So that was this morning.

Then, around dinnertime, we learned that Sony had struck a deal with Viacom to supply content to their virtual MVPD project, a project that seems to have taken the industry in general by surprise. (Surprise may be too strong a word but it did not get anywhere near the amount of ink Eric Huggers' Intel box has been getting.)

This is also huge because the biggest stumbling block for the virtual MVPDs has been their inability to get content licenses from networks anyone actually wants to watch. That's the main reason Apple and Google have allegedly walked away from any sort of virtual TV deal and not something anyone was expecting Sony to nail, given how many in the industry have basically given up Sony for dead.

While Viacom alone does not a virtual MPVD make, and it remains to be seen who else comes on board, Brian Stetler raised an excellent point in his article for the Times, noting "Having the news spread was advantageous for Sony, though, because having Viacom on board — even just on a preliminary basis — will most likely help the company complete other carriage deals."


This is another one to wait and see how it pans out and watch the effect the launch of virtual MVPDs from both Intel and Sony has on the industry and how it might encourage other virtual MVPDs, both from newcomers and from existing MVPDs.

Quite a day.

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