Fanhattan, a two-year-old startup known for its TV discovery apps, has announced plans for a new set-top box* that will combine OTT video with traditional pay-TV programming. The company is also promising DVR functionality and a motion-sensitive remote control with no buttons to press.
The catch? Fanhattan hasn't released a price point for its proposed service yet. Plus, while the company says it aims to partner directly with pay-TV providers, it won't say which ones, if any, have agreed to become part of the Fan TV experience. Fanhattan plans to distribute its box through pay-TV providers, but also directly to consumers through the company website.
There may be a hint of things to come on Fanhattan's partner list. On its website, the company cites Comcast Corp.'s Xfinity service as one of its live TV streaming partners, meaning that authenticated users could at least access Comcast TV listings through the Fan TV interface. It's hard to know, however, whether that's actually a sign of things to come on the living room screen or just Fanhattan's wishful thinking.
There's another big cable question too. Using the Fan TV user interface, will consumers be steered to a pay-TV provider's app for cable content? Or will Fanhattan simply be able to stream a cable video feed into its own interface? The MSOs are clearly growing more comfortable with porting their apps to retail devices but that doesn't mean they like the idea of ceding all UI control to a third party. (See TW Cable App Debuts on Roku and Comcast, Verizon Connect with the Xbox 360.)
On the retail front, Fanhattan joins a growing parade of IP streaming video set-top suppliers. Apple Inc., Google, Boxee and Roku Inc. are among the leading set-top providers, while Amazon.com Inc. says it will launch a set-top this fall, and Microsoft Corp. is reportedly toying with the idea as well. (See Amazon Set-Top Slated for Fall and Microsoft Eyes OTT Set-Top.)
*This story was updated to note that Fanhattan plans to sell its set-top both through the MSO channel and direct to consumers online.
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable