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New Cord-Cutting Options: Combining OTA With Streaming

With the cord-cutters and the cord-nevers receiving a great deal of attention in the content-distribution industry, it is time for manufacturers to introduce options that combine both over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts and streaming services.

Despite the availability of TVs with both smart capability and their required tuner, these new devices, depending on the individual feature sets, enable better reception, easier distribution of OTA signals to multiple TVs, and a more integrated program guide inclusive of both OTA and streaming content on the same page.

OTA requires an antenna, but the growth of cable and satellite in recent decades has left many consumers without access to an antenna. Solving that at CES 2017 was Mohu’s forthcoming AirWave. Integrating an antenna, pixel reduction technology and an OTA tuner, it then uses Wi-Fi connectivity and the Mohu TV app to use any of the popular video streaming devices including Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Stick, Apple TV and Chromecast along with a web-based app to deliver signals. Using the app as a main program guide, the user will be able to not only change OTA channels, but see the entire range of subscribed channels in a unified guide.

While Nuvyyo’s new Tablo Live requires an external antenna, it will also use Wi-Fi connectivity to stream OTA content from its single tuner to streaming boxes, iOS and Android devices and a web-based browser via free TV guide app. Shipping this spring for $99, there are proof-of-concept plans for a Cloud-based DVR subscription service.

For those using or selling the popular Nvidia Shield as a streaming and gaming product, Tablo will also offer its Tablo Droid app from the Google Play Store to deliver an OTA program guide. It will also allow DVR functionality with Tablo’s own forthcoming two-tuner Tablo Tuner, another powerful combination of OTA and streaming.

Taking yet another approach to OTA and streaming service integration, AirTV, a subsidiary of Dish, uses an Android TV-based streaming box for access to both pre-loaded apps such as Sling TV, Netflix and YouTube along with the wide array of content and apps available in the Google Play Store, including 4K content. However, this is more than just another streamer. When the optional OTA AirTV Adapter is added to the $99 main unit for an additional $39, full access to OTA channels is added along with a fully integrated program guide. The result is streaming and OTA content control and selection in one device, with an integrated remote with familiar volume and TV control functions onboard.

Perhaps the originator of OTA DVR, Tivo is continuing its OTA Romio and offers OTA DVR capability in its Bolt model. Joining that product area at some point this year will be Philips’ Tivo-based OTA product. Originally brought to CES as a prototype concept, a Philips spokesperson told TWICE the dealer reception was so positive that it will probably go into production.

That, as much as anything else, points to the viability and dealer interest in OTA and streaming combinations. As the year progresses, one suspects we’ll see similar products.