The merging of the venerable over the air antenna with streaming TV services and hardware devices has the capacity to dramatically change the landscape of television and media consumption.
All of the pieces are in place.
In fact, we’ve already seen glimpses of the future in the form of Amazon Fire TV Edition and Roku TV sets. They represent a new class of integration in which the over the air tuner is integrated right into the app, rather than relegated to a separate input. Complete with rich thumbnail images, programming guides, time shifting and more. This is where we are heading, albeit slower than we would like.
Once this technology is liberated to an under $100 set top box, the revolution will begin.
In short, what is missing from today’s cord cutting solutions is the integration of free over the air television and streaming content from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and the ever popular “skinny bundles” being offered by Streaming TV providers like DIRECTV NOW, Hulu and the like.
In the past, most have pointed to Apple as the company with the creativity, vision and connections to make this a reality. However, due to missteps and failures, mostly at the doorstep of Eddy Cue, Apple has ceded the technology leadership in TV to the likes of Roku, Amazon and Google.
Apple still may yet surprise us, however, odds are against it.
Its far more likely that we will see Amazon, Roku or Google crack this nut.
Amazon and Roku have already demonstrated that over the air antenna TV can be seamlessly integrated into an app interface, surfacing this content alongside the existing on demand content living on the device, in one integrated user interface.
What’s left is to take this integration one level deeper and integrate the free over the air antenna content within the streaming over the top app. For example, a DIRECTV NOW guide that surfaces the local ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC stations alongside the skinny bundle favorites like ESPN, HGTV, CNN/Fox News as first class citizens with full DVR control and personalization.
Sling TV‘s AirTV with Antenna Adapter is currently the only streaming service that has attempted to do this, albeit with mixed results. TechHive’s Jared Newman has weighed in on the attempt and came away less than impressed:
An imperfect marriage of Sling TV and broadcast television. This streaming box makes cutting cable less intimidating, but it’s hurt by Sling’s limitations. They just need to be packaged and integrated in a simple, seamless manner. The first major hardware vendor that can crack this nut, will be in the drivers seat for the future of TV. – TechHive’s Jared Newman
Sling got really close to what we are looking for, however, they missed a real opportunity by not building the TV adapter into the unit itself. We are hearing that this may be their next step – word is that most AirTV owners opt for the extra expense of the TV adapter.
So, who will be the first to deliver the holy grail? We have seen Amazon, Roku and Sling make some real progress, but it remains to be seen if and when one of these companies, or perhaps another player (cough, cough, Apple), may put the pieces together.