CO-based startup aioTV is trying to get ahead of the 4K wave: The OTT middleware video platform recently added 4K capabilities to its PassBox platform, which ops have been using to offer OTT and VOD content. The timing is right as “there is a desire from the operators' community to get 4K out there,” CEO Mike Earle told us. “The 4K encoding vendors are ready… The TVs are starting to become available… The market is heating up.” The startup's sales pitch to MVPDs is simple: The service allows MVPDs to add 4K and other content delivered over IP to existing linear offerings without changes to their distribution infrastructure. Specifically, aioTV would re-create the MSOs' guide (still under the MSO's brand) with their scheduled data and allow the providers to insert 4K and/or other OTT/VOD channels to existing linear channels. Consumers would stream 4K content over IP but not notice any difference because all channels appear in the same guide, Earle said. And because everything's on the same interface, subs can navigate between linear and web content without switching inputs. “The goal is to get all in one stop, and present them on the screen” with minimal destruction to existing infrastructure, he said. Still, a lot needs to be worked out before ops launch such a platform. With 4 times the resolution of HD, HEVC plays a key part to transport 4K content. “We are doing some work with [HEVC vendor] Elemental Technologies,” Earle said. Ops are already using aioTV's PassBox as a multiscreen solution, and Earle said “almost all of them started with the basic service” by adding content available for free on the Web to linear services. “The brave ones will add VOD as well and then the really, really brave ones will do a full IP transition.” Meanwhile, some cable ops are still using DTAs with embedded conditional access in a 3-year waiver to the FCC rule that prohibits the use of set-tops with integrated security functions. These one-way, limited-capability devices don't support VOD, program guides and pay-per-view. aioTV's PassBox aims to allow ops to offer guides, VOD and online content without breaking the waiver conditions. “It's like organizing all the content into a big fat playlist that can be personalized,” Earle said. Founded in 2010, the company hasn't announced any deals with top US cable ops. That could change as the company is expected to announce a contract with a Tier 1 MSO around this year's cable show. The company's board member includes longtime Time Warner Cable engineer John Callahan, who's also a former ActiveVideo CTO.
The late millennials (age 18-24) spend 33% of their daily time watching content online versus 29% on broadcast/cable content, according to a report by The Diffusion Group. The next generation up, early millennials (25-34), view just 23% of content online versus 30% on traditional TV sources. For broadband users over 55, they spend 61% of their TV time on traditional TV content versus 4% online. “It is hardly breaking news that older consumers watch more live broadcast and cable programming than do younger consumers, or that younger consumers watch more OTT TV than do older consumers,” Michael Greeson, co-founder of TDG said in a release. “That said, the strong correlation between age and TV sourcing preferences is striking and is of tremendous import for operators and networks looking to target specific age groups.”
The streaming stick market is getting a little crowded. Differing from previous reports that Amazon was looking to launch a streaming box that's similar to the likes of Roku and Apple TV, the company is expected to offer a Chromecast-like dongle in early April. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal , Amazon might offer the device to existing Prime members with incentives. Similar to Roku, Amazon could gain advertising and app downloads revenue from the device, according to the report.