Sunday, March 23, 2014

Live TV Everywhere? (Part 1)

I have a desktop computer, a laptop, an iPad, and an iPhone. Each of the three TVs in my home is hooked to a cable box as part of my Verizon FiOS Triple Play bundle. One of those cable boxes doubles as a DVR that can feed TV recordings to the other two boxes. Two of my TVs connect to Apple TV streaming media players — and one of the TVs has a Roku streaming media player — that feed it video and audio content. And I also have two Sony PlayStation 3's that double as streaming media players.

Trouble is, no one device is capable of letting me view every single channel or content source I have legitimate access to.

In Verizon's Prime HD package, I get a huge number of channels — most of which I never watch. I can look at many of these channels only through one of my Verizon boxes.

Verizon's FiOS Mobile app for the iPad can stream a certain number of those cable channels, but not all of them. For example, I can't stream most sports channels in FiOS Mobile. Adding to the confusion, only a subset of the FiOS Mobile app's live-streaming channels work outside my home.

Meanwhile, just about every device I have can stream Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and/or other streaming sources of content. Oddly, my Verizon cable boxes can't do that. So I have to keep a map in my head of what devices I cannot use for any given channel or streaming content source.

The main problem lies with Verizon. Verizon could in concept let me view any duly authorized cable channel on any of my screens.

It could also put apps — in Verizon-speak, "widgets" — on its cable boxes for Netflix and other streaming content sources. But that's a separate issue, to my mind, since I'm really hoping for a solution that would eliminate the clunky cable box entirely.

OnCue: the original,
pre-Verizon idea
Recent developments suggest that in fact Verizon now envisions something very like what I want. Verizon has just purchased Intel Media, an arm of Intel that had until recently been developing OnCue, a technology designed to stream cable channels over the Internet.

A New York Times discussion of the promising Intel-Verizon deal can be read here. Bloomberg News had this to say about the deal Well before the Verizon deal came along, the New York Times said this of the Intel OnCue initiative.

In my next installment, I'll talk about how I as an aspiring "cord cutter" want to ditch my cable boxes forever.

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