Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Slingbox Standalone vs Slingbox Cable

Given the number of boxes aiming to connect with the television set, it makes sense to partner with the leader in the field, the cable set top box.  It is a strategy that TiVo has recognized and been following in order to gain a deeper household penetration.  But working with cable operators comes with a price, and that issue is working under the content licensing agreements as well.

Slingbox, as a standalone box, simply needs a wire between cable set top and the Slingbox, and then a wire to the TV set.  It may be a number of wires between the devices but it allows the Slingbox to talk to the cable box.  It then enables all mobile devices to access that cable box, through the Slingbox,  although the big downside is that only one user can watch a show at a time from this set-up.  TiVo offers an option for a CableCard to make it a cable set top box, although depending on the operator, it may not access the on demand features.

Under the standalone feature, a user has a complete TV Everywhere experience at his disposal.  Still, Sling the company, recognizes to gain more households, it may be necessary to follow the TiVo model and put their technology INSIDE the cable set top box.  But that ultimately limits the true value of the Slingbox.  By working with the cable operator, Sling would be subject to their licensing deals that for many networks limits access to streaming of their channels.  "TV Everywhere is a nightmare for consumers because of these unresolved issues," whether cable operators work with Sling technology or not. 

Sling may want to get closer to the cable operator but networks are already developing their own streaming apps for each of their channels.  It does give networks more control over their content but it becomes much more confusing for the customer trying to find which app to use to get to the content they want to watch.  An aggregated app, like the one a standalone Slingbox offers, seems the easiest to manage for users.  That is until someone comes up with an app that provides a complete line-up of content choices, linear and on demand and links to the app to best serve it to the consumer.  An extra step, but perhaps a likely next step as a go around of the cable operator.  Given the cost and difficulty of getting a TV Everywhere experience, it is why users have found alternatives with OTT and ditching the cable box completely.  And that is something Sling, TiVo and the cable operators really have to worry about.