Two new streaming media players entered the market at CES 2017: one from Disney targeting kids, another from Dish targeting cord-cutters. Do either of the devices stand a chance in this crowded market place?
Disney goes after kids
The $99 Disney Kids TV streaming media player from Snakebyte is a kid friendly device that comes loaded with Disney content. Children will be able to select themes for the interface (Frozen, Mickey Mouse,) which will be much simpler than other devices. The box supports 4K streaming, music streaming, and can play games at up to 60 frames per second. All the content available through the box is preselected and advertising-free.
Nielsen says that children are shifting their viewing away from regular television, toward connected televisions. In the last year, kids aged 2 through 11 have decreased their weekly television consumption by 7%, or 1.5 hours. At the same time, they have increased their connected TV viewing by two-thirds, an increase of 1 hour per week.
There are several reasons to believe the market for the Disney Kids TV will be very limited. Firstly, it is very hard to compete with a hand-me-down Roku or Apple TV. The Roku, for example, is very easy to setup with a child’s favorite apps. A parent can also block a child from installing any other apps by setting up a PIN. And though the interface isn’t kid-oriented it is ridiculously easy to use. Any child capable of turning on the TV will quickly learn which apps to click on for their favorite shows.
Tightly controlling the content available on the Disney box does guarantee a safe environment. However, it also prevents parents from giving their kids access to other kid-friendly services. And there are plenty of them. Netflix and Hulu both have kid versions of the interface, and parents may already be subscribed to them. Noggin, from Viacom, and PBS Kids target the same audience as Disney. All of these streaming services are available on Roku and Apple TV.
AirTV goes for the cord cutters
The $99 AirTV Player comes from a new subsidiary of Dish DBS Corp called AirTV. AirTV Player is based on Android TV, allowing an owner to get apps for the device from Google Play. It is optimized for Sling TV, which comes pre-installed, along with Netflix. Both these apps have dedicated buttons on the remote control. The remote also includes a microphone for voice search and control.
The AirTV Player says it is built to allow over-the-air integration with an online experience. However, to get that experience users must buy a USB over-the-air tuner called the AirTV adapter for $39.99. Users attach the adapter to an antenna and then plug the adapter into the AirTV Player. They can then access the over-the-air channels from within the Sling TV guide.
The AirTV Player and Adapter occupy a curious space in the market. If all you want is online services, you’d probably be better off buying a mainstream product like Amazon Fire TV or Chromecast. If you want to integrate over-the-air television with online this is a relatively cheap option to do it. Though if you have a recent mainstream smart TV you might be better off connecting the antenna directly to the television.
But the biggest problem is the lack of DVR support for the OTA channels. For just $100 more, someone looking to integrate live TV and Sling TV might be better off buying the ChannelMaster DVR+. This full featured DVR for over-the-air viewing doesn’t require any subscription fees. You can add an external disk to store as many shows as you like. And Sling TV channels are integrated into the guide, side-by-side with local broadcast channels.
That said, the website says orders for the AirTV have been so brisk the company is running two weeks behind fulfilling them. Notwithstanding this initial interest, without a DVR solution for the OTA channels, the market for AirTV Player and Adapter is likely to limited.
Why it matters
The market for streaming media players is dominated for 4 players: Apple, Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon.
Entries into the market from Disney and AirTV are unlikely to ruffle the feathers of the leading vendors.
Both products will struggle to make a lot of headway, even in their intended markets.