Streaming Media Invades The Living Room (Again)

The signs are everywhere: Your living room is about to be invaded (again) by streaming-capable devices. Yet this latest round may just include devices you already have in place.

For instance, EchoStar's ownership of Sling has pushed forward the integration of Sling Media software within the satellite box. Along with, which has on-demand content from major content providers, and can be viewed on a computer, the integration into the Echostar satellite boxes—complete with DVR recording capability—means that Sling's place-shifting technology can be enjoyed in the living room as well as on the road.

While Sling continues to focus on the iPhone, announcing in September the availability of the SlingPlayer Mobile Wi-Fi application for iPhone—now available in 19 countries, including France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the USA—the living room is an area that Echostar already dominates.

"Rebroadcasting content from Hulu is not a complete solution for a consumer," said Mike Hawkey, VP of sales and marketing at EchoStar, at a recent event.

"Will your customer be satisfied with half the content?," Hawkey continued, noting that Sling's integration into a traditional satellite box gives consumers the ability to enjoy traditional and new media within an integrated package.

Speaking of integration with consumer devices, Best Buy is getting back into the game, announcing that it will partner with Sonic Solutions to push streams and progressive downloads to a variety of electronics. The Roxio CinemaNow offering from Sonic Solutions complements Best Buy's intent to step beyond the initial sale and into a recurring revenue service model, and the company has the clout to get device manufacturers to create Best Buy-only exclusive versions of popular to televisions, Blu-ray players, computers, and even phones.

According to a report, Best Buy will integrate the solution into Insignia-brand TVs and Blu-ray players, with the on-demand service perhaps being available in time for Christmas.

In Europe, ioko's player for Sky hits the Xbox 360, Wii, and Playstation 3 in fairly short order, although the Wii's lower-powered processor won't support full-screen H.264 video playback. For Sky, it's about expansion beyond the satellite box.

"This is the first time a customer can get the same Sky content without needing to subscribe to the satellite service," said Fearghal Kelly, ioko VP of media solutions. "While we're not privy to Sky's business decisions, the fact that they have footprint in both the UK and on the Continent means that they may be able to significantly expand their customer base for premium content."

Not only is the platform going to be available within the Sky business footprint, but other news from the IBC show seems to indicate that Sky and ioko will offer the platform (including desktop, laptop, gaming systems) to other Pay TV operators outside of the UK.

This Sky news comes just days after the BBC announced it, too, would be offering the BBC iPlayer to other television operators outside of the UK, although its federated plans have since been scrapped in favor of a BBC-led international expansion model.

Roku, whose CEO spoke at last year's Streaming Media West show, around the time it launched the $99 Netflix player, also just announced an SD and an HD version of its player, at $80 and $100, respectively, as well as an HD-XR player with extended range Wireless-N compatibility for $130.

"The Roku HD-XR is the first Netflix-streaming device to embed next-generation 802.11n dual-band wireless connectivity," said Roku CEO and founder, Anthony Wood. "WiFi- makes it easier and more reliable to start enjoying movies, TV shows, sports and the best online content available, all on the living room TV."

Roku is also expanding its offerings to include and Revision3 content. It currently includes live and on-demand Major League Baseball games, plus both the Netflix and Amazon on-demand libraries for a combined total of more than 65,000 titles.

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