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Yahoo Weighs New TV Streaming Device

Mari Silbey
9/18/2015
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While Apple and Amazon are the ones dominating the headlines with their newest streaming devices, there's now word that Yahoo may be ready to enter the fray.

According to an industry source, Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) is considering launching its own device "that would plug into your television and allow you to seamlessly stream your favorite shows and movies from your phone for a shared viewing experience."

If that sounds familiar, it should, as the proposed Yahoo device is described in terms very similar to the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Chromecast stick, Roku Inc. products, Apple TV and Amazon's Fire TV streamers. Yahoo goes on to say that, in conjunction with a mobile app, its new device would auto-detect streaming services and present a program guide with unified search capabilities and mood-based browsing.

In the retail market, Yahoo would face stiff competition with a new media streamer. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) has already introduced 4K Ultra HD support for Fire TV, and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is known both for its superior user interface design and dedicated fan base. (See Amazon Unveils 4K Fire TV and Apple Brings tvOS to Apple TV.)

At the lower end of the market, the Chromecast and Roku platforms are already well established, meaning it would be difficult for Yahoo to compete either on features or on price.


Want to know more about the impact of web services on the pay-TV sector? Check out our dedicated OTT services content channel here on Light Reading.


As an alternative, it's worth mentioning that TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) has succeeded in the streaming space with a different approach. The DVR company has built its business by incorporating traditional pay-TV services into its products and selling its platform directly to pay-TV providers. TiVo said this week that it's bringing in an average of $2 per subscriber through its cable deployments, a revenue stream that nicely contributes to the company's bottom line.

However, Yahoo has no foundation in the pay-TV business, and there's no indication that it wants to develop one. That means the company is likely looking at the already crowded retail market and will have to face all of the challenges inherent there.

Over-the-top video services are increasingly popular, which is probably why Yahoo is considering its own streaming hardware product. However, the increasingly ubiquitous availability of video services means the device that viewers use to access content is less important than it once was.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
9/18/2015 | 2:42:13 PM
Me too device?
This may just turn out to be a me-too device, offering some Yahoo services as well as Netflix, Hulu -- the usual suspects. 

That might not be a bad thing either. Incremental revenue source, and providing Yahoo with a path to consumer TVs that it controls. 
DaveZNF
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DaveZNF,
User Rank: Moderator
9/18/2015 | 4:56:26 PM
Yahoo Widgets Refuse To Die
How many years have we been talking about Yahoo's TV stuff? They refuse to die. As an early trailblazer in this space and considering they still power Vizio TVs, they do have more experience than most in the space. Yet, as Mitch suggests, perhaps the market is saturated with devices that all do the same thing. Yahoo would probably be better served by making meaningful apps for Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku ... with much less risk. 
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/19/2015 | 2:33:06 PM
Re: Me too device?
This does in fact sound like a me-too device. It reminds me of the times maybe about a decade ago when Yahoo was trying to transition itself to an entertainment company. 

I'm not really sure what Yahoo is anymore. I don't feel like it's a tech company. I don't feel like it's an entertainment company. Is it even a search company anymore?
jabailo
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jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/20/2015 | 2:50:07 PM
Re: Me too device?
The box/device architecture seems like a step backward from the Chromestick where it simply streams video.   The activation is an app on a tablet which then gets out of the way so the cloud can directly format and stream the content.

It's like having a video cable on a monitor that is miles long.

Given the soon to be pervasive Gigahoods, why not continue to situate all the processing on the back end like the current stick model does.

 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
9/21/2015 | 10:22:17 AM
Re: Me too device?
Definitely not a search company. I don't think they even handle their own search anymore. 

They're an ad company. 
Nitin Narang
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Nitin Narang,
User Rank: Light Beer
9/21/2015 | 3:29:33 PM
sense another acquisition
Is there another  acquisition in pipeline to get into the device and service delivery? 
DHagar
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DHagar,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/21/2015 | 4:20:27 PM
Re: Me too device
danielcawrey, fully agreed.  I don't see any value proposition. 

They have been floundering for quite some time.  I don't see where this puts them and like you, I don't know what they want to be when they grow up?  They better figure out soon.  As I recall, the revenues have been mostly from acquisitions, not as much organic growth.
linkedin96187
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linkedin96187,
User Rank: Light Beer
10/6/2015 | 11:16:21 PM
Re: Me too device?
They have Yahoo Screen. Some of that content would be worth being streamed on your tv. For example, Yahoo Live concerts. Also they landed the first live stream NFL game. If they can land an NFL deal for more games, then they've got something. Packaged up NFL games with other content, aka Direct TV
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/7/2015 | 9:21:58 AM
Re: Me too device?
@;omledom95187 yes, they do have that  going for them. And I see ads for Fantasy Football on the NFL streaming, so perhaps they get some revenue from that, as well. 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/23/2015 | 4:39:18 PM
Re: Me too device?
Now I see that Yahoo is gearing up to stream NFL games, a $17 million venture for the company. AdAge reports: "Yahoo makes a compelling case that football can be just as good online as it is on TV. The company paid about $17 million for the rights to stream the game around the world from London at 9:30 a.m. New York time, according to a person familiar with the terms"
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