Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Yet Another Way to Get a Super-Cheap Web TV Box

now tvWhat’s that? You say you’re intrigued by the notion of a Web TV box, but $35 for a Google Chromecast is too rich for your blood?

Here you go — if you live in the U.K.: Satellite TV service BSkyB has rolled out a Web TV box for £9.99.

That works out to about $15, and what that gets you is essentially a rebranded Roku HD boxBSkyB invested in Roku last year, and once again this spring — tailored to support BSkyB’s Now TV streaming subscription service. That also means that the box won’t support BSkyB rivals Netflix and Amazon/Lovefilm.

You can see more specs and details here, but the big picture is that this shows yet another approach to distributing Web-to-TV hardware: Rather than have consumers buy the gadgets directly from the manufacturer, a programmer/distributor sells the box and subsidizes the cost.

Expect to see more of this in the future. For starters, note that Roku’s other investors include 21st Century Fox, Dish Network and Hearst, which owns both TV stations and stakes in TV networks including ESPN.

Meanwhile, Apple is in talks with Time Warner Cable about an Apple TV tie-up; for now, that deal doesn’t call for the cable operator to sell Apple’s boxes, but you could certainly imagine a pact where it does.

And remember that Amazon, which tried to buy Roku last year, has its own TV box in the works, which will be optimized for Amazon’s own video offerings.

 


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”