2013’s Consumer Electronics Show happened. What did we learn about the future of Internet television?

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Because we here at TV Without A TV like to subscribe to the notion that all things are better late than never, it’s time to look back at 2013’s installment of the Consumer Electronics Show (or, as as those who either track their Twitter feed by the second or have not seen daylight in four years may call it, CES). And why should we here at TV Without A TV discuss said happenings at said conference, the mildly attractive disembodied voice asks oh, so politely?

Well, it’s simple: 2013 seemed to be the year of Internet television at the Gadget Conference To End All Gadget Conferences. As each day passed this year, it felt like another story crept out about how a different company was exploring web television options, or how an already-existant product was going to make the practice infinitely easier by adding a new service to its approach. Seriously: You couldn’t go three clicks without stumbling upon another reason why the world will be working without traditional television signals in no more than five years.

Internet TV = All the rage.

And instead of trekking through the trillions upon trillions of narratives written and subsequently finding a way to weave them into a traditional blog post, I thought it best to simply highlight some of the talking points below. Why do that? Because no matter how inane the subject may be, people will always want to read talking points, friends. They are like McDonald’s and “Man V. Food.” You simply can’t resist giving them at least a few minutes of your time.

So … here we go:

  • Roku. Remember that? Oh, you don’t? Well, it’s in the archives somewhere. Promise. Anyway, word came at CES this year that it struck a deal with Time Warner Cable in order to stream up to 300 channels from its box. This matters to you, cable-cutter, because this is the first time the company’s TV application will be available on an actual television. It’s also the first live-streaming deal for Roku, a service that has actually gained a bit of traction within the consumer set over the last year or so. Your move, Google TV.
  • Say goodbye to those nights you force yourself off the couch to “check out what the Redbox at whatever creepy grocery store that makes you feel slightly uncomfortable you frequent after hours has.” Instead, you will now have Rebox Instant by Verizon, a third-cousin of the Chick-Fil-A Tire Bowl by Popeye’s. No, but seriously guys: It’s true. The service will combine unlimited streaming of its movies along with … wait for it … coupons to use at one of its physical outlets. The cost? 8 bucks. Your move, Qwikster.
  • From something called Geek Wire: “At the Intel booth, Comcast demonstrated an integrated guide that has the ability to show all incoming media — be it from broadcast, cable or internet — plus the ability to push that guide wirelessly to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, but its full capabilities were not on display. Missing from the guide was any Internet service, but according to a spokesman at the booth, the equipment can handle it with ease. The technology was Intel-based, using a Comcast reference design, and delivered via an Arris XG-5 cable modem. Testing of the modem will start later this year, a Comcast executive said, and will first be available to Comcast ‘triple play’ customers; e.g., customers who get bundled TV, Internet and phone service from the company. The service will integrate with new ‘smart’ HDTVs that already have Internet capabilities. Older sets will require a media box between the home cable modem/router and the TV to take advantage of the extended service.” Your move, Kabletown.
  • AT&T revealed its “Screen Pack,” a $5-a-month add-on that will allow customers of its U-verse product to stream about 1,500 movies. This all comes with the assumption that more streaming content will also be available in the future, of course. Sure, it can’t really compete with something like Netflix, but remember: A bunch of iPhone users originally signed up through AT&T. Could it be that when some of them want to turn on their phones to check out what’s available to watch every now and then, they now won’t hassle with an outside company’s product and just use this in-house AT&T offering? Hey, man. I’m not sayin’, but I’m just sayin’. Your move, Motorola.
  • Sony continues to be the pesky little player in the web TV world. Word from CES says that it has plans to roll out a “multichannel television service that could potentially rival cable.” You can read more about that here. Your move, mini-disc player.
  • How about having Internet television without the Internet? From Barry Silverstein at Brand Channel: “On the hardware front, HP is demonstrating what it’s describing as a streaming powerhouse called Pocket Playlist. It may look like just another digital storage device, but Pocket Playlist can take all the digital content it stores (movies, music and photos) and stream it to as many as five devices through its built-in WiFi connection. With a subscription to HP’s PlayLater, Pocket Playlist becomes a portable DVR for streaming video — no Internet connection needed.” Your move, Al Gore.

Whew! That was a lot, wasn’t it? Here’s to 2013 being a crazy-busy year for web TV. And here’s to 2014’s CES helping us relay all the information to you, the wonderfully attentive blog reader. Happy Monday!

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