Category Archives: television

Apple reportedly discussing the possibility of a TV streaming service with Comcast

Apple-TV-Concept-05

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is now in talks with Comcast about the possibility of a collaborative television streaming service. The plan, according to the report, is for Comcast to provide preferential streaming treatment to an Apple-built set-top box like the existing Apple TV.

The service would allow subscribers to stream live TV shows as well as on-demand content provided by Comcast. The agreement between the two companies would allow Apple’s box to continue streaming smoothly even when other connections were bogged down by high traffic and bypass bandwidth issues.

According to the Journal, the two companies are not yet close to a finalized decision, since the plan would require a significant upgrade to Comcast’s infrastructure to maintain the reliability Apple demands (a fact any Comcast subscriber will attest to). Apple also needs to get the rights to stream the content in question.

Apple has been looking to jump into the television market for some time. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said that he had “cracked it” in regard to building a television set, a move Comcast competitor Time Warner Cable’s CEO said in 2012 he would like to see the company pursue. More recently, the company promoted its current Apple TV device from “hobby” to a full product line in preparation of a rumored update in the works.

Apple was previously in talks with content providers—including Time Warner—about a system similar to what the WSJ is describing now. Based on the current status of the talks with Comcast, it’s not likely we’ll be seeing this system rolling out any time soon. Unfortunately, given how similar talks have broken down in the past, this Comcast agreement may also fall apart before it ever gets off the ground.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple TV, Comcast, on-demand, streaming, television, Time Warner Cable, TV, video

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Opinion: Will the spring launch of Amazon/Nexus/Apple TV signal the beginning of the end of live, broadcast TV?

tv

Streaming TV is heating-up. We’re expecting a new Apple TV box to be announced in April, Amazon looks set to launch its own box in March and Google is reputed to be not far behind with a Nexus-branded box.

So-called cord-cutting – people who give up their cable TV subscriptions in favor of streaming content over the web – is growing in popularity. Mobile TV viewing on tablets is increasingly common.

All of which makes me wonder whether we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of live TV … ? 

I should perhaps declare a personal bias here: I haven’t owned a television for years. Divvying up the property during a divorce, my ex-wife kept the TV set and buying a new one got added somewhere down towards the bottom of my to-do list. Some two years later, I still hadn’t gotten around to it and realised I hadn’t missed it.

It’s not that I don’t watch TV shows. But Netflix and BBC iPlayer give me all the TV I needed, viewing on my MacBook Pro or iPad when it’s just me, and hooking the Mac up to my Apple Thunderbolt Display when I have company.

What began as the somewhat eccentric behaviour of someone who was never much of a TV junkie in the first place seems to be becoming increasingly mainstream. More and more people turn first to VOD services like iTunes, Netflix and Hulu, with live television as a more occasional habit.

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Most people are not ready to give up their TV sets altogether, of course. Indeed, the trend is to ever bigger screens. There’s no small amount of irony in the fact that TV manufacturers are increasingly pushing 55- and 65-inch screens at the very same people who also watch TV shows on their iPads and even iPhones. But that’s kind of the point: people should be able to choose not just what they watch, but where, when & how they watch it.

I also don’t think most are yet willing to give up their TV tuners. Some TV will always be watched live, even if it’s just news and sports. There are also those primetime shows people love to talk about with friends and co-workers the next morning, where if you didn’t watch it live – or at least, later the same evening – you’re left out of the water-cooler conversation.

Indeed, it’s rumored that the new Apple TV box will contain a TV tuner precisely because there is still a role for live TV. But I think that role will be an increasingly small one, with video-on-demand becoming the default option. And live TV doesn’t have to mean delivery via a TV antenna or cable service, of course.

The change I’m suggesting won’t happen overnight. There are three obvious hurdles to overcome.

First, habit and inertia. For the non-tech mass-market, there is comfort and familiarity in continuing to receive their favorite programs from their favorite channels, even if they do record them for later viewing. But that’s no different to any other tech change: the early adopters lead the way, and the mass market follows.

fiber

Second, bandwidth. There are also still those whose broadband connections are not yet fast enough to support reliable streaming of HD content – and that’s before we even get started on 4K content. But that’s a problem that will be solved. Google, for example, has big plans for its gigabit Google Fiber service.

Third, and possibly the most challenging of all, the established TV networks. They are both powerful and conservative. Back before time-shifted viewing was common, they dictated what people watched when. These days, they tell us what devices we can use to watch their shows.

But the balance of power is starting to shift, as consumers vote with their wallets. Netflix has demonstrated with House of Cards that you don’t need to be a TV network to have a massively successful TV show. We’ve seen iPad apps appear for offline viewing, albeit mostly only as part of a traditional home-based cable package. But the march is underway.

choice

Which is why I think increasing competition in the TV box field is good news even for die-hard Apple fans. Because it’s that competition that creates the marketing campaigns that introduce the technology to mass-market consumers.

Right now, the big TV networks aren’t too worried about what a bunch of tech-heads are doing. But when streaming TV boxes go mainstream, and start making their way into the average Joe’s living room, that’s the point at which streaming TV becomes so popular that even the big TV networks won’t be able to resist.

Right now, consumers commonly fork over $100+ a month for a whole bunch of content they don’t want, just to get the bits they do. The more popular streaming content becomes, the greater the pressure on the networks to offer us the freedom to pick and choose the content we actually want, in the formats we want it, paying only for that.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the networks will lose out. For every customer paying $120 a month for a particular package, there are probably a dozen more who would pay $10 a month for the shows they want. Let people watch what they want how they want and the dollars will follow.


Filed under: Tech Industry Tagged: 4k, Apple, Apple television, Apple TV, Cable television, Google, House of Cards, iPad, Netflix, television, Television program

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Americans officially living in post-PC world, spending more time using mobile apps & web

nielsen-smartphone-usage-2013

According to new data from Nielsen, Americans now spend more time using mobile web and apps on their smartphones than they do online on their PCs, reports Engadget.

That shift toward mobile is affecting how many spend their free time. Americans spent an average of 34 hours per month using mobile apps and browsers in 2013; that’s more time than they spent online with their PCs, which chewed up 27 hours … 

TV viewing is also declining, though people still spend more than twice as long watching live TV as accessing the net.

The figures show that almost two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone, at 65 percent, up from just 44 percent two years ago – with the average American owning four ‘digital devices,’ which include TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones.


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Engadget, iPad usage, iPhone usage, Mobile app, Mobile Computing, Mobile usage, Mobile web, Nielsen, Personal computer, Post-PC, Post-PC world, Smartphone, Smartphone usage, television

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Americans officially living in post-PC world, spending more time using mobile apps & web

nielsen-smartphone-usage-2013

According to new data from Nielsen, Americans now spend more time using mobile web and apps on their smartphones than they do online on their PCs, reports Engadget.

That shift toward mobile is affecting how many spend their free time. Americans spent an average of 34 hours per month using mobile apps and browsers in 2013; that’s more time than they spent online with their PCs, which chewed up 27 hours … 

TV viewing is also declining, though people still spend more than twice as long watching live TV as accessing the net.

The figures show that almost two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone, at 65 percent, up from just 44 percent two years ago – with the average American owning four ‘digital devices,’ which include TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones.


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Engadget, iPad usage, iPhone usage, Mobile app, Mobile Computing, Mobile usage, Mobile web, Nielsen, Personal computer, Post-PC, Post-PC world, Smartphone, Smartphone usage, television

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WWE Wrestling Network coming to Apple TV, company executive suggests

Earlier this year, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) held a press conference to announce that it will be bringing its wrestling content to television and mobile devices via a new WWE Network. At the event, WWE Chief Revenue and Marketing officer Michelle Wilson announced hardware partners and that the network will provide its content via a 24/7 stream that costs $9.99 per month.

As shown in the video below (5:30 in), Wilson said that the network would become available on a slew of devices, including iOS devices, Android devices, Rokus, Amazon Kindle devices, Xbox hardware, and PlayStations. Rounding out the list of supported devices, Wilson said, is “a connected device that I am not allowed to mention at this press conference…”

The only major connected TV device not explicitly announced to support WWE is the Apple TV set-top-box, leading us to believe that the secret supporting product is the Apple TV. It is widely known that Apple enjoys controlling all aspects of its products, right down to the content makers that it works with. In addition to that speculation, audience attendees were given Apple TVs in special WWE packaging (image shown above).

When Wilson made her statement about the device she is “not allowed to mention,” an attendee in the front of the auditorium raised up the gifted Apple TV. In response, Wilson said, “you got the joke, I love it.” The WWE Network officially launches on February 24th, so perhaps the channel will show up on Apple TV boxes on or around that date. Another possibility is that the WWE is looking to be a launch partner for Apple’s upcoming Apple TV successor.

Yesterday, we reported that sources have indicated that Apple has a revamped Apple TV set-top-box in the works. We have been told that the new product will likely be introduced in the first half of 2014 and that new downloadable content types (such as applications) is a strong possibility for inclusion.

Last year, Apple added several new content channels to the Apple TV, including Bloomberg News, MLS Soccer, new Disney offerings, Watch ABC, and Vevo. We’ve previously published an extensive profile regarding how Apple and content providers work together on new Apple TV channels. Phone calls and emails to the WWE have not been returned.


Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices Tagged: Amazon Kindle, Android, Apple, AppleTV, iOS, television, WWE, WWE Network

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Report: New Apple TV box coming soon

Apple might be getting ready to launch a successor to the Apple TV. According to 9to5Mac, the company is already testing its latest set-top box, and is likely to introduce it in the first half of this year.

While not much is known, the most exciting new features about the box are reported to be a revamped operating systems based on iOS, as well as the potential addition of an app store.

AppleTV

In similar news, earlier today iLounge reported that a potential update is on the way that will bring gaming support to the Apple TV. It is uncertain how this would work with the current iteration, since it is isn’t clear if the device features any usable internal storage. It is possible, however, that the game store and an app store are one and the same. 9to5Mac does note that Apple might bring features from the new Apple TV to the current device.

Apple has added a number of new “channels” to Apple TV recently, though it still lags behind competitor Roku. Giving users the ability to download apps or games, however, would bring Apple TV up to speed. And depending on the developers it attracts, it could help Apple far surpass the competition.

Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
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The iRing is real! Though it’s nothing to do with Apple TV …

iring

We admit we’ve enjoyed making fun of Brian White’s claim that the long-rumored Apple television would be controlled by an iRing, not least because he just won’t stop predicting the imminent arrival of the television itself (last we heard he was expecting it at the end of last year).

But now he can take heart from the fact that the iRing actually exists, even if it has nothing to do with Apple television, and looks nothing like the various mockups that did the rounds in the wake of his claims. It can be yours for just $25.

Don’t expect much tech for your twenty-five bucks, however: it’s just a piece of plastic with some printed dots on it.

iRing is a simple double sided ring that fits comfortably between your fingers. On one side is an engraved linear pattern of three dots, on the other is an engraved triangular pattern of dots. iRing uses the front-facing camera on your device and advanced volumetric positioning algorithms to recognize and determine the exact physical location of the ring in relation to the device camera. This precise reading of the physical location of the ring is converted into MIDI control messages that are easily read by your music apps

IK Multimedia plans to launch the ring sometime this quarter, initially aimed at DJs for controlling the company’s own music apps. The company does, however, hope that other developers will want to support the device, and is inviting interested parties to contact them.

CES coverage brought to you by Belkin


Filed under: Tech Industry Tagged: Apple, Apple TV, Brian J. White, iPhone, iRing, iWatch, MIDI, television

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