I’ve written a lot lately about how Internet connected devices are chipping away at the need for consumers to have a set-top box in each room in which they have a TV. The latest evidence comes from Samsung and DirecTV, which have partnered to let the satellite TV provider’s customers to broadcast live and pre-recorded content directly to a Samsung Smart TV. Samsung is calling it “set-top ‘Boxless’ viewing,” which will enable operators to offer up the same user experience to the TV without the need for an additional piece of hardware connected to it.
The pact was made possible in part through both companies’ participation in the RVU Alliance, a consortium formed to work on advanced remote user interface (RUI) technology. But DirecTV isn’t the only operator able to make use of Samsung’s “set-top boxless” technology — since it’s embedded the tech in all of its connected TVs, other partners could potentially deliver multi-room viewing with only a single box in the home.
The Samsung and DirecTV joint announcement follows a number of other operators that have moved toward software-, rather than hardware-based options for channel navigation and video distribution to the TV. Whether it’s Verizon’s introduction of a multimedia gateway that will stream live TV to tablets, gaming consoles and other devices, AT&T teaming up with Microsoft to let consumers control their TV through an Xbox, or Comcast’s reimagining of an electronic programming guide in the cloud, the trend is clear: Operators are looking forward to doing away with costly hardware that can be replaced with software-based solutions.
As more connected devices hit the market and more operators get comfortable with creating IP- and cloud-based solutions, that trend will only continue. And for anyone who’s had the same crappy box sitting in their living room for the last five years, that’s good news indeed.