This week, Time Warner Cable announced an expansion of their TV Everywhere lineup with a new app designed for Samsung Smart TVs. The new app on the Smart TV interface will deliver TWC content on demand to users without the need for a cable set-top box. Time Warner is not the first MVPD to launch an app for the Samsung TV lineup. Last summer, Verizon FiOS launched their Samsung experience for the Smart TVs and Blu-Ray players which included both video on demand and live streaming support (limited channel selection).
The new Time Warner Samsung TV app does not support live channel streaming, only VoD content. This is surprising considering their Roku app, which launched in March, does support streaming capabilities – a first for the Roku device. The TWC apps for android devices also provide for live streaming channel access. Due to the lack of live streaming support, the new Samsung TV app will not provide an opportunity for TWC customers to ditch their set-top boxes just yet. It would provide TWC consumers with an option of accessing some of their content on secondary televisions in their homes where live streaming isn’t essential in order to eliminate monthly fees for additional boxes. As the Samsung interface evolves with regard to tracking user behavior to enhance discovery, having TWC be a part of that data gathering and recommendation platform will be beneficial to consumers. TWC still does not have a connected TV viewing experience for the Xbox Live platform, like their competitors Verizon FiOS and Xfinity, but that effort could be in the works before the Xbox One launch later this year.
This is a step in the right direction as MVPD operators continue their expansion of connected TV delivery through apps instead of set-top boxes – a lofty challenge for the operators and one that is heavily debated in the industry. From a consumer standpoint, the flexibility that a box free environment provides is an ideal situation. The shift to app content availability and quality parity with STBs will also open the door for more innovation in the set-top box space by third party providers like Roku, Amazon, and Intel. BYOB – Bring Your Own Box – options for consumers when subscribing to cable services is becoming a reality more and more each day. While this transition in how consumers connect to content from MVPD operators might not break down the bundled channel system, it is moving the industry in the right direction for consumers and future innovation in the space.