Last summer Fanhattan showcased a Fan TV box that would put cable TV in direct competition with Internet streaming services, while simultaneously allowing cable TV providers to sell the box itself. Now, Fanhattan has officially found a partner in Time Warner Cable, who will sell their streaming boxes for $99 to subscribers – and they’re already available for pre-order. The box will have live TV and video on-demand streaming from TWC, plus services like Redbox Instant, Target Ticket, Crackle, and Rhapsody. There are more plans to add services over time, but for now the big names like Netflix and Amazon have been left off of the list. Those omissions will allow some breathing room for Roku, Apple TV, and the Amazon Fire TV, but it seems likely that Time Warner will try to break into the cordcutter market as swiftly as possible to keep its customers paying for cable.
Today NimbleTV opened its streaming cable service to anybody in the NYC metro area after a year’s worth of private beta. In direct contrast to Aereo, who is running against the grain with cable providers, NimbleTV can be thought of as an over-the-top cable connection; users are required to authenticate their existing cable package, and thereafter NimbleTV will let users watch TV anywhere, across multiple devices – that is, on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Whereas many services now let you stream after authenticating your subscription through a third party, this is a one-time deal that lets you permanently stream your whole cable package anywhere. It’s not earth-shattering, but affords great functionality to those who want their cable unbundled from the box.
Netflix has begun talks with American cable providers in an effort to integrate with their set top boxes. If they manage to ink a deal with major American television providers, it would mark a major change in thinking about mainstream media dominance, showing Netflix to be such a major player that it can no longer be ignored. U.K. provider Virgin Media recently announced a partnership with Netflix that will allow its customers to search for Netflix shows seamlessly within the standard cable channel browser. Netflix’s positioning as a lower-cost alternative to cable television has made it a clear and present danger to cable providers all over the world, and teaming up could allow traditional providers to maintain some relevance as television viewing shifts more and more online and on-demand.
If you’ve got the Internet bandwith to spare, there’s no longer a reason to keep TV feeds to yourself. Slingbox 350 and 500 media streamers now have the ability to integrate Facebook into their live TV streams. Slingbox works by turning your TV into an Internet Stream that you can tap into on any device, anywhere, and now that stream can extend to friends on Facebook – with one important caveat: Facebook friends can only connect to your stream when you’re not using it; just one connection is allowed at a time. You can invite friends on the social network presently, but you can interrupt their stream at any point to reclaim control. This represents another big step forward in social TV; expect to see more of this in the near future.