I had predicted over at NextMarket Insights that this was the year that smart TV grew up and that one of the key trends would be the rise (at least in products and compatible TVs, if not outright consumer adoption) of the smart-TV stick.
And if last night’s announcement by Roku and Time Warner are any indication, I’m definitely on the right track. The companies announced the Time Warner app, which is, in essence, cable-TV service in an app. With a Roku-powered TV and the Time Warner app, consumers can get 300 channels of service, allowing them to replace the set-top box.
Of course, the consumer needs to be authenticated as a Time Warner subscriber, but this is an important announcement. And for reasons beyond the obvious indicate, sticks will be important this year.
I have to wonder if — and when — Time Warner would consider going out of territory with its service by offering a higher-priced multichannel package to non-subscribers. There are obvious licensing issues in doing so, but at some point the company might look to offer a pure over-the-top service outside of its native markets.
Will it do so? I am not sure it has the stomach for such a Lord of the Flies approach to its MSO cable brethren. However, other upstarts with negotiated national TV rights but without such large footprints might consider such a move.