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Three new streaming boxes help operators fight churn

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Service operators are looking for options to maintain the churn-busting power of broadband plus video bundles without the burden of running a pay TV service. CES turned up three new streaming media player options for them to consider.

One of the most significant problems facing service operators in 2020 is what to do with video. The power of video services in a bundle to reduce churn is well known. However, the economics of providing traditional pay TV services increasingly don’t make sense. The conundrum for operators is how to keep the benefits of video in the bundle without incurring the costs of running the service.

Increasingly, operators are turning to streaming media players and online services to solve the problem. They can bundle a relatively cheap streaming media player with broadband service and partner with online video providers to create a useful consumer solution.

SMP providers are only too happy to oblige. Operator solutions from Roku, TiVo, Google, and others have been around for some time. At CES, three more significant solutions emerged.

TiVo Stream 4K

TiVo Stream 4KTiVo made quite a splash with its Stream 4K announcement at CES. The $69.99 HDMI dongle was billed as a new entrant in the already crowded streaming media player market, where it must face down the likes of Roku and Amazon Fire TV. However, TiVo will also be making the device available to pay TV operators. TiVo has an established business with operators, helping them deliver multiscreen TV services.

TiVo Stream 4K, which is based on Android TV, provides all the richness of SVOD and AVOD providers available in the Google Play Store and blends in TiVo+, the DVR pioneer’s free ad-supported TV service. The DVR pioneer also announced it was adding another 23 channels to join the current 26 in TiVo+.

The integration with Sling TV will be of particular interest to operators. The Dish Network vMVPD service is the default live subscription TV option. Using TiVo Stream 4K, an operator could continue to offer linear TV services through Sling TV without the expense and worry of running a pay TV service.

Fire TV Edition for Operators

Fire TV CubeIn all the noise around Amazon’s announcements for Fire TV at CES, you might have missed that the company has introduced an edition of Fire TV for operators. The company has Fire TV partnerships with operators Tata Sky in India and Verizon in the U.S. With Tata Sky, for example, the company uses a Fire TV stick to avoid introducing a hybrid set-top box capable of delivering satellite and streamed content. If a customer subscribes to Tata Sky’s Binge service, they are given a Fire TV stick.

Under the new Fire TV for Operators program, Amazon had expanded the number of devices an operator can offer to its customers. It is also providing “merchandising opportunities” in the Fire TV experience, which could be a reference to Amazon’s burgeoning advertising business. Fire TV for Operators is available immediately in North America, Europe, India, and Japan.

Technicolor Ruby STB

Technicolor Ruby STBFor network service providers (NSP) in emerging markets, Technicolor has a new connected home set-top box – called Ruby – powered by Android TV. The box integrates Google services like YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store as well as Netflix. Using Ruby should decrease the time to market for NSPs wanting to provide video and connected home services. Ruby will be available in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. Technicolor says it is already working with operators to introduce the box early this year.

Why it matters

Service operators are looking for ways to stop offering pay TV services but maintain a compelling video and broadband bundle.

Three new possible solutions from TiVo, Amazon, and Technicolor were on display at CES 2020.

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