Move over, Apple TV. And Google TV, Roku, Intel and Amazon. A new player is getting ready to wade into the unproven field of entertainment streamed from the Internet to your TV screen via a high-tech set-top box.
It's called Fan TV, and it comes to us via San Mateo, Calif.-based Fanhattan, which already provides content services via computer or mobile devices. The new device, two years in the making, was revealed by Fanhattan CEO Gilles BianRosa Thursday at the All Things Digital D11 Conference in the Los Angeles area sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.
Slow to Adapt
The compact device, with a magnetically attached remote, accesses cloud-based content (no storage), live TV, on-demand content, DVR and streaming services. Price and availability have not yet been announced.
Consumers have been slow to "cut the cord" and give up traditional cable, satellite or broadcast TV for Web-based streaming. Nielsen Research estimates the number of U.S. households doing so from 2007 to now rose only from 3 million to 5 million, a finy share of the population.
While everyone and his sister seems to be designing a set-top box (STB) hoping to boost the trend, Fan TV seems to fall more into the sub-segment of an STB umbrella.
"This device and service is trying to blend both the traditional pay TV service feed with OTT," said ABI Research Digital Home Analyst Michael Inouye, referring to "over-the-top" content that is delivered but not created by an entertainment provider such as a cable company.
"This solution isn't exactly novel, since Google TV and Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One embrace similar integration strategies."
What is different, Inouye said, is implementation.
"Both Google TV and Microsoft's Xbox One overlay their platform over the service provider service -- using a video-in port. Fan TV, however will receive a streamed version of the pay TV service -- there is no coaxial input or CableCARD support on the box."
Also unlike Google TV and the Xbox One gaming and entertainment platform, which still require a cable box or other STB, the Fan TV device is hoping to replace these pesky boxes. But that's no easy feat.
Boxes Still Needed
Fan TV could explore various scenarios to work with cable providers, but in most cases, a third-party STB would still be needed in the home for most viewing on the primary screen.
"If Fanhattan's Fan TV box fails to secure the support from the pay TV operators, then it will start to look very much like the current crop of smart STBs on the market -- albeit with some intriguing design elements such as the touch remote," Inouye said.
"If this happens we might see other incarnations of Fan TV down the road -- such as TV-in like the Xbox One, CableCARD slot, or over-the-air tuner to make it a hybrid terrestrial/OTT box."