Ahead of its potential merger with Comcast, Time Warner Cable announced this week that Fanhattan’s Fan TV set-top boxes are now available to subscribers for $99. Fan TV is meant as a replacement for current set-top boxes, and blends the pay TV and online streaming experiences in a more visually appealing way.
Fan TV debuted at AllThingsD’s D11 conference last year, but has since lacked support from major cable providers. The partnership with Time Warner Cable should help Fan TV secure more deals, both with cable service providers and streaming services. Still, Fan TV currently remains limited in its streaming content offerings. Fan TV users can, as of now, only access Crackle, Target Ticket, Rhapsody, and Redbox Instant. HBO GO and Netflix – streaming device stalwarts – are conspicuously missing.
The Fan TV device is minimalist and the experience is intuitive, both stark contrasts to any set-top box that Time Warner currently offers subscribers. Just as all cable providers integrated DVR technology into their own services after the rise of TiVo, we will likely see more hybrid pay TV-app experiences becoming the norm.
Roku and Amazon Fire TV have no cause for concern yet, as they offer consumers more content options than Fan TV does (and likely will be able to), but as cable providers begin integrating the technology into their own offerings – rather than through a third-party service – they will be able to secure larger partnerships and differentiation will become more difficult.
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