Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 11:04 am.
Boxee TV, $15/month ‘unlimited’ DVR for network shows
- Hard to see this becoming a big, mainstream hit. The set of people who only want to record network TV shows (via an antenna), have fast-enough bandwidth to upload all that video to a server somewhere, and who insist on not having cable/satellite TV service seems pretty small. (You’ll probably see some praise today among the cord-cutting Twitter elite, but most people still watch too much TV — and want at least some cable programming — to make this a suitable replacement.) Anyway, the network TV shows are typically the ones that are already the easiest to stream on-demand via Hulu, Netflix, network sites and apps, etc. But millions of people DVR them already, so that’s a reasonable service to offer.
- $15/month for “unlimited” DVR of only network TV seems steep, but not crazy. (In NYC, Aereo’s monthly plans for a somewhat similar service — with storage limits — are $8 or $12/month.) I only share my DVR with one other person, and we don’t run out of storage space, so the “unlimited” pitch doesn’t do much for me. Our bigger problems are: Wanting to use more than two tuners at a time (watching a third channel while two shows are recording) and that Time Warner Cable’s DVR doesn’t reliably start and end the recording on time, often clipping off the end of a show. Boxee TV doesn’t seem to fix these.
- The pipe matters. The company driving these Boxee DVR uploads and downloads is typically the company that wants to sell you TV service, whether it’s a cable company like Comcast or Time Warner Cable, or a phone company like Verizon or AT&T. This is exactly the sort of service, if successful, that will lead to metered broadband access and consumption-based billing.
- Boxee’s user interface thinking, at least as a casual observer, continues to be its most impressive asset. (It would be more interesting if, somehow, I could access my entire cable subscription from this box. Will that ever happen?) Its most likely “exit” will still be to a cable or set-top box company, to help bring their UI up to modern standards. But who and when, and in what shape?
Anyway: Interesting stuff, as always, from Boxee. But after considering a product and service like this, it’s clear how powerful the cable companies still are.