There's change in the air for the cable industry, and it's coming from an unlikely source: Time Warner. With over 100 million cable subscribers in the United States, almost all of them locked in to the existing system of renting a cable box from their cable subscriber. Time Warner, on the other hand, just announced a partnership with Fan TV that will see the first third-party boxes on their service. And it's just $149.
Fan TV combines live TV, cable video-on-demand, and your web-based streaming services in one box. Some devices, like the Xbox One, funnel your cable interface through to your TV with an interface overlaid on top of that and controls through IR blasters, the Fan TV takes the encrypted cable feed straight from the wall and uses its own interface and controls to make things happen. Those controls are a little touch-sensitive puck. Swiping and tapping, just like a smartphone.
While having a third party cable box isn't entirely unprecedented — the TiVo is just that — what's crazy about Fan TV's acceptance by Time Warner is that it also integrates streaming web services. right now only subscribers in a few large metro areas will get their local channels, but all subscribers will get their premium cable line-ups.
At launch, the streaming services list will be limited: Redbox Instant, Crackle, and Rhapsody, with Target Ticket to follow shortly thereafter. Yep, there's no Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or any of the other streaming services you might expect in this day and age. We wouldn't be surprised to learn that the cable company put restrictions on which services they would allow on Fan TV — mostly those that they don't perceive to be a threat.
The Fan TV will cost $149 at retail, but those that pre-order now will get it for $99. What do you think — with the limitations is it worth it to have that deep integration with your cable subscription?
Sourec: Fan TV