Smarter 'Dumb' TVs Will Drive OTT Adoption

Smart TVs may be limited by clunky UIs, but "dumb" TVs are getting smarter all the time. And thanks to connected game consoles and media streamers like Chromecast and Roku, those not-so-dumb TVs are set to drive a major surge in adoption of over-the-top video services.

A new report by Juniper Research predicts that subscriber numbers for OTT television services will jump more than 250% from 92.1 million globally in 2014, to 332.2 million by 2019. The report specifically mentions TV services from Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), but alludes to other offerings as well. A handful of programmers, including Home Box Office Inc. (HBO) and CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), already market their own OTT services. Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) has also made headlines with its Internet-based Sling TV service, and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) are among the other big players said to be preparing new online TV packages. (See Broadcasters Eye OTT Bonanza and Verizon Scores New OTT Content Deals.)

According to Juniper Research, North America is the leading market for continued OTT growth, but Asia follows closely behind.

Want to know more about OTT video services? Check out our dedicated OTT content channel here on Light Reading.

Traditional TV operators recognize both the threat and the opportunity in online video. Operators are using TV Everywhere apps to bring their services to multiple screens and introducing new features like cloud-based DVR to add value to the subscription experience. Most of the content that service providers offer online is available on-demand, but linear TV streams are on the rise.

In addition to TV Everywhere apps, service providers are also examining opportunities with the new VidiPath specification from the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) . VidiPath will allow consumers to stream subscription content to certified devices (including tablets and TVs) while maintaining a consistent user interface across multiple screens. At the recent Internet & Television Expo, several companies demonstrated VidiPath functionality, including Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) with the X1 platform, Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) with a client set-top, Samsung Corp. with a client TV, LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) with a WebOS TV running client software from JetHead Development, and AwoX with a reference tablet device. (See INTX: A Viewing Guide to Cable's New Show .)

ABI Research predicts that VidiPath-certified devices will hit 70% penetration of cable households with advanced services in the US by 2020. The cable industry hopes that the flexibility of VidiPath will help keep viewers tuned to their own services and make subscribers less likely to abandon traditional pay-TV in favor of cheaper OTT options.

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

Principa98200 5/19/2015 | 4:23:29 PM
Smart? TV All I'd like to have is a broadband network capable of supporting 4G HD. Can't have a Smart TV if all you have is a Dumb network.
melao2 5/19/2015 | 3:17:21 PM
Dumb TVs ? Most of the TVs nowadays have "smartTV" on it.

I do agree that the UI is still the biggest gap, but that will be over very soon.

The SoCs and software to make it smart are increasingly cheaper.

Also there is no comparison to using netflix on a smarttv. Since you can just turn on one device and put the movie you want with the remote.

You don't have to fiddle with multiple devices and UIs. It is mom/dad friendly enough. 


I don't know the princing in the US. But there is virtually zero difference in pricing on a dumb or smart tv here where I live.


Just think that soon the computing power on those TVs may exceed many computers from the recent past. A lot of boxes may become redundant. 




Mitch Wagner 5/19/2015 | 1:27:08 PM
Apple TV Related: Apple dumped its plans to come out with its own smart TV set a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reports. It's focusing instead on a streaming video service, and improving the existing Apple TV, last updated in 2012.
KBode 5/19/2015 | 9:37:45 AM
Re: Cost benefit The problem is, if you've looked at the new 4K options, nobody actually sells a dumb TV anymore. Which is unfortunate, since that's all I want. I don't want to pay for "smart" internals that will be obsolete in a year when I can just swap out a rotating crop of $30 to $99 Roku and Chromecast players that work much better than these internal TV components.

I feel like the first operator willing to sell a truly high quality "dumb" TV would make up in sales what they'd lose in padded costs for the set.
Mitch Wagner 5/18/2015 | 7:11:00 PM
Cost benefit Consumers are more likely to replace an inexpensive add-on to their TV, such as a Chrome USB stick or Roku puck, rather than a TV costing hundreds of dollars or more. 
brooks7 5/18/2015 | 1:19:52 PM
Re: TV Just a comment.

We stream Youtube onto our TV using our PS/3.

However, the UI is so primitive that we never use it.  What we used is either phones or tablets apps and link them to the PS/3.  That is a MUCH better UI.  Wish more services would do that (I am looking at you Netflix).


Ariella 5/18/2015 | 1:16:54 PM
TV Maybe instead of not-so-dumb, we should call them "slightly smart TVs"
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