Back in December, I wrote how my family cut the cord. It was basically a financial decision — our cable bill was growing from $120 to $180 a month and that seemed ludicrous considering how few TV shows watched. So we joined the 60M Americans that use only over-the-air signal. Surprisingly, we’ve survived and we’re not going back. In case you’re thinking about it, here’s what you can expect if/when you take this route:
1. The first two weeks without cable are the toughest! When I shared my decision with my oldest, he cried saying his world was coming to an end. And for the first two weeks, it felt that way because we constantly swarmed around the television looking for background or “filler” shows that we would watch whenever the TV was on. Luckily by the third week, we finally stopped looking for them and started doing other things.
2. You will miss your DVR. With cable, I used to record primetime shows and then wait 10 minutes just so that I could rewind them to the beginning and skip the commercials. I could also pause a show whenever there was an interruption. Once I cut off cable, I had two options: attempt to watch it live (and hope that you don’t get interrupted) or wait a day and watch it for “free” online. The frustrating part about online shows is that you have to sit through several 3 minute commercial breaks. It seems no different then cable until you realize that the commercials tend to repeat over and over, and there are only so many times that you’re willing to listen to the Internet Explorer 10 jingle!
Cable TV is just outrageously expensive. For years, I’ve enjoyed a $120/mo promotional price but last month Comcast jacked up the rate. For $170, Comcast provided high speed internet (12MB), the Digital preferred video package (with HD channels) and AnyRoom DVR but no premium channels.
When I learned that they wouldn’t lower my price (and my prior critique of the Comcast streaming service certainly didn’t really help my case), I began to consider cutting the cord. Knowing that I’d save $100+ a month, I looked a few video streaming options:
Boxee Founder Avner Ronen announced yesterday that Boxee has closed a $16.5M round of financing. The timing couldn’t have been any better as Boxee is trying to fend off competitors such as Google TV, Apple TV and Roku. While sales of Apple TV and Roku remained strong at the end of 2010, the Google TV box from Logitech failed at launch — there were plenty of misses like the awkward keyboard wasn’t backlit, a confusing user interface, and a slow search interface that frequently returned incomplete results. And on the software side, Google asked vendors to hold off rolling out displays with embedded Google TV. While Google will certainly return with a stronger offering, Boxee now has additional funds that they can use to get out ahead.
How can Boxee dominate the market?
Content is king and Boxee aims to bring all of your home media content together in one device. With Boxee, users can scan/access their music library from another computer, a feature that is missing from both Google TV and Roku. Ronen anticipates using the funds to grow their development team and introduce additional (paid) content on their device. According to the support forum, requests for Amazon Video Streaming integration have become extremely popular ever since the announcement of free movie and TV content streams for Amazon Prime members so I believe that Boxee may focus on supporting this in the next release. With the major networks blocking access to their free streams, Boxee is better served by focusing on integrating with partners that want to share content.
The Boxee team also plans to expand on the embedded software front. In addition to serving as an interface for an Iomega home media storage device, the Boxee software will soon be integrated into ViewSonic TV’s. This should solidify Boxee as a software solution that can complete with the Google who has partnered with Logitech and display vendor Samsung. Boxee will hopefully leverage their already active developer community to expand the availability of content (and functionality) on their offering.
This exciting news signals additional interest and trust in the future of interactive TV.