Google announced yesterday that the new Chromecast 2 will have native support for a slew of popular streaming services including Showtime, Sling TV, NBA, and NHL. Google also introduced Chromecast Audio that connects speakers to Wi-Fi for wireless audio streaming from services like Spotify. The Chromecast Android app also received a major update that added features like content discovery, multiple device control, and a more comprehensive video search tool, vastly improving the user experience.
What Brands Need To Do
So far, Google has reportedly sold an impressive 20 million units of the original Chromecast, which helps users enjoy a living-room viewing experience powered by mobile devices and laptops. All brands that have video content should consider adding support for Chromecast in their branded apps. For media owners that have content apps that already support Chromecast, this upgrade brings some new opportunities in increased audience reach and improved content discovery, and content owners need to make efforts to ensure the consistency and quality of viewing experience as viewers consume content on bigger TV screens.
According to a new report by Parks Associates, Google’s Chromecast has surpassed Apple TV as the No.2 most popular media streaming device on the U.S. market. Despite a considerable slip, Roku’s lineup is still the most popular this year, with a solid 29% of market share, while Apple TV fell to third place with 17%.
Apple TV sales have always been lukewarm for an Apple device, and its recent slide in market share could be reasonably attributed to its comparatively hefty price tag, as well as its closed ecosystem. The Cupertino company needs to add more value to their set-top box if they wish to continue competing with the likes of Roku and Chromecast, boasting accessible prices and better compatibility.
Moreover, the recently introduced Amazon’s Fire TV box and stick came in fourth place with an impressive 10% share. As new media streaming devices, be they dongles or set-top boxes, continue to emerge, the market for OTT devices will maintain its grow amid swiftly shifting competition.
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It looks like Google’s Chromecast has a new competitor as Amazon introduced the Fire TV Stick today. It is a $39 dongle that works just like Chromecast, currently priced at $35. To sweeten the deal, Amazon also throws in a free month of Prime membership, while also offering it at a discounted $19 to existing Prime subscribers. It seems to be a serious challenger to Chromecast in terms of both features and value, and we won’t be too surprised if we see an Apple TV Stick soon.
Update 10/30: The ship date for Fire TV Stick has been pushed back to January.
Rdio announced support for Google’s Chromecast media accessory, meaning that Rdio users can cast their music from their iPhone, iPad, Android phone, and Chrome, wirelessly. And with Rdio’s existing remote feature, users will also be able to control playback on the TV from wherever they are, as long as they’re logged into their Rdio account. As with other Chromecast-ready technologies, the icon for casting now appears in the Rdio app, enabling easy casting. It means that there is now well-defined music streaming for cord-cutters and other early adopters of the technology, taking Chromecast’s transition from a TV replacement to a living-room dominating media center to the next phase.
After officially debuting Chromecast outside of the US, Google today announced a new app for the device that allows users to create a collaborative photo montage on their TV screens. The idea is that anybody takes a picture and sends it to a shared “photowall,” creating an instant collage of photos on a big screen which, in turn, can be shared with everybody, across social networks. So although Chromecast has thus far been mostly about streaming video from mobile devices, Google looks to be making a turn to the social in a bid to be more than just a streaming stick – the goal is social control of the living room.
Google’s Chromecast over-the-top smart TV solution has been gaining popularity since its release, but the limited stable of apps from familiar online content providers has been preventing a mass user-base from developing. Today Google announced the device’s support for 10 new third-party apps from companies like Vevo, Songza, and Plex. Plex is especially interesting, as it is quite popular with home theater enthusiasts, and thus could bring the Chromecast into more critical media serving applications. Be on the lookout for more Chromecast apps in coming months from similar vendors, because this is certainly not the last drop of apps for the device.
Rumors of Chromecast support for the HBO Go app are now a reality, as both iOS and Android support wireless streaming of HBO content to the Chromecast device. Google announced that you can also cast from the Chrome browser, but streaming from Chrome simply casts the image onto the screen, whereas casting from mobile or tablet pulls the data from the cloud; that is to say, casting from Chrome relies on the computer’s resources, while casting from mobile or tablet pulls data from the Internet. It’s an interesting way of streaming content, and continues to prove the vitality and popularity of the new technology.
When Google Chromecast initially came out, its options were limited: there were few apps that supported the technology. Now, Hulu has put itself in direct competition with Netflix by offering a new app that lets Chromecast owners stream Hulu Plus content to their TV’s. Like Netflix, Google Play, and Google Chrome before it, the Hulu app allows users to tap a button on any mobile screen to cast the video up onto the TV. Hulu’s version, though, has a custom remote control with play, pause, and a 10-second rewind, with caption options built into the casting service. The next likely addition will be HBO Go, meaning that if you can get your hands on one of the devices, cordcutting is already that much easier – and cheaper.
Google’s Chromecast made waves because it’s cheap, and actually does what it promises to do. It also comes with its own apps and development tools, meaning that the utilizations for the device could be endless – that is until Google released an update that cut off the open development of the platform after an Android developer reverse enginered the Chromecast to let users stream anything straight from their Android smartphones. Called AllCast, the app broadcasts anything and everything from the device, until Google’s latest update cut off the workaround. As far as development goes, it means that the ecosystem will likely be relatively constrained. But as far as trends are concerned, this move has vast implications for the Chromecast network; it means that sponsored material and app-based streaming are the only possible way forward for the technology, and that brands will have a strong hand to play in terms of branded, casted content.