NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Set-Top Boxes, Apps, and the Future of Entertainment

Set-Top Boxes, Apps, and the Future of Entertainment

Set-Top Boxes, Apps, and the Future of Entertainment

There’s been a lot (and I mean a lot) of talk lately about the set-top box.  Through it all, we can see clearly that television delivery is moving in a completely new direction at rocket speed. With the inevitable switch in content distribution as the backdrop, Stephen Goldstein, VP of Business Development & Marketing at Samsung and Andrew Ferrone, VP of Pay TV at Roku stopped by Imagine Park today at INTX to talk about “Entertainment’s Apptastic Future.”

Roku has started partnering with cable companies like Time Warner, Charter, and most recently Comcast to use their devices as an alternative to the set-top box. This is more than just swapping out an old piece of technology for a newer one; Roku (and similar devices) hosts over-the-top (OTT) content like Netflix or Hulu.

As television breaks out of the box, we are seeing an increase in specialized content channels taking advantage of these new distribution methods.

It’s bigger than HBO GO, Watch ESPN, or FXNOW. Think small. Think a local church or mosque creating an app for Apple TV so their congregations can see sermons or lectures in their own homes.

New technology and distribution methods are injecting the marketplace with vibrant new content, increasing competition for quality entertainment.

“I just look at the viewing habits of my teenagers,” said Stephen Goldstein. “I think what’s driving maybe app usage and/or video, it’s quality content.”

Roku isn’t alone. Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast are all competing with each other as the marketplace quickly changes.

Convenience and simplicity are king for today’s audiences. That’s why Roku has launched a smart TV, with their operating system built in. Andrew Ferrone says that they want to make the OS as ubiquitous as possible. The goal is to put every viewing option in one place, no need to switch inputs to move from cable to streaming services.

The fierce competition results in viewers being at the center of each decision. Ferrone told an audience today in Imagine Park that their universal search sorts results by price, from lowest to highest. “That value of openness, and…the consumer perception that they are getting a fair view of everything available to them is a strong selling point of Roku.”

“I think it just speaks to the growing opportunity, I think all of our businesses in this space are growing,” Ferrone responded when asked about the competitive landscape. “Every time a new major market entrant goes in, we see our sales lift. Because it raises awareness of the space.”

“I think what’s good and is rising the tide is that people have a thirst to get the content they want, and they want it wherever and whenever,” said Stephen Goldstein. “So I think it’s incumbent on the industry and those of us that make devices and technology, but also the operators and content creators to listen to what consumers are after.”

A report released today at INTX by Parks Associates reveals that 36% of broadband connected homes have at least one streaming-media player, up from 27% last year. With all that room to expand, competition will drive innovation, and people like you and me who are moving into the world of streaming content will benefit.

It's All TV: Entertainment's Apptastic Future from The Internet & Television Expo on Vimeo.