The daily news in the world of streaming media is at an all time high. Disney is on the verge of re-inventing itself to take on Netflix. YouTube TV just gobsmacked its rivals with the massive rollout of over 150 local stations across the country and just today we learned that T-Mobile and Redbox are about to launch streaming TV services of their own.
Interestingly, of the T-Mobile announcement, an AT&T spokesperson has reached out to us to chime in on the impact of the rival service:
“Un-original – yet further validation that the industry is dynamic and extremely competitive everywhere you turn.”.AT&T Source
So, with this rush of recent developments and the ramping up of heated competition between industry titans battling for the streaming market opportunity, what can we look forward to in 2018?
More specifically, what do we expect to be the big stories from the streaming media industry as we approach Sunday’s start of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES Las Vegas, Jan 9-12). Here’s my Top 5 wishlist as we ease into the new year:
- DIRECT NOW users finally get a Cloud DVR
This one is just too obvious and should have been done long ago. Users have been extremely patient, some sticking with the service for over a year on the promise of the imminent release of a long promised Cloud DVR service. If the DVR is not released in the first few months of 2018, expect a mass exodus and user revolt from the service – which could be hastened if wishlist items #2 and #3 are fulfilled sooner than later.
- YouTube TV finally gets an app
Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV owners would welcome this news with open arms. YouTube TV has been widely praised by early adopters, however, its appeal and reach is severely limited due to the lack of device support. I expect that once users are able to access the service via actual streaming boxes, without the need to cast from a mobile device or tablet, it will dramatically take off. The result will be increased competition and pressure on all rivals. All good for cord cutters like you and me.
- Philo extends its device support beyond Roku
Low cost leader Philo is seen as a potential game changer in the industry. At just $16 a month, the service that offers a solid slate of entertainment channels, including a cloud DVR at no additional cost, would appear to be a can’t miss proposition for cord cutters – especially those that already get their local channels over the air via antenna or when paired with another service that has locals. With broader device support, including Apple TV and Fire TV, we see Philo emerging as a strong competitor in the marketplace.
- Netflix is finally integrated into Apple’s “TV App”
Now that Amazon Prime has joined forces with Apple with full Siri search support and full integration into the TV App, how long before Netflix and Apple hammer out a similar deal? How might the expected Disney + Fox deal impact Netflix’s decision in this regard? Its a long shot as Netflix has some valid reasons for resisting integration and keeping users walled into their app. After all, they are the King at the moment so they have scant incentive to make a move into Apple’s curation algorithm just yet. But with Disney hot on their heels? Time will tell.
- OTA is finally integrated into streaming devices
We have seen both Roku TVs and Amazon Fire TVs released that feature well-designed integration of over-the-air antenna based content with built in program guides. The Roku OS 8 system in particular, currently only available on TVs that have the built in Roku system, is an excellent example. However, this same functionality does not yet exist in a stand-alone device beyond the highly flawed Sling Air TV add on. Channel Master is set to announce something along these lines at the upcoming CES in January. My wish is that Roku, Fire TV or Apple TV owners get their OTA wishes answered and we finally get a single box that integrates OTA with OTT. I would expect Roku to be the most likely to lead in this space and Apple to be the least likely.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my top 5? Share your thoughts in the comments below: