Analysis & Opinion

OTTtv World Summit asks: Could Chromecast replace set top box?



At OTTtv World Summit, London

At yesterday’s OTT World Summit, a panel discussion including the likes of TalkTalk, Arqiva, and DT came together to ask ‘Are We Witnessing the Death of the Set Top Box?’

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, was an emphatic and unanimous ‘no’ – for a variety of reasons, it was agreed that the set top box, in one form or another, would be with us for some time to come.

A fascinating tangent, however, was embarked upon when one audience member asked the panel whether Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle might not represent a functioning alternative to the STB….

Andrew Chisnall , Head of TV Parternships at UK operator TalkTalk, conceded that, while for him this would be entirely feasible, TalkTalk’s consumer demographic – a little older and less tech savvy than Virgin’s – would likely prove less adaptable. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t leave people behind,” he explained.

Andreas Georgiades (OTT Services and Media Operations Manager, NOVA-FMH, S.A), concurred that each demographic would require a tailored approach, and that the industry “needed to stop looking at things as a one fits all solution.”

Bill Scott, COO, EaselTV, in turn pointed out that Chromecast was as yet not a complete replacement for the set top box. “It’s part of an overall multichannel, multiscreen proposition,” he explained, “and for some customers in some contexts, maybe it’s the second device – maybe it’s the only device for some people who live off their mobiles – but for other people it isn’t necessarily appropriate, and I think whether it’s Chromecast or whatever box or device or stick or smart TV you’re talking about, the reality is that today we have to deal with a variety of different devices and a variety of different user contexts.”

Scotts elaborated on this question of ‘context’, pointing out that Chromecast required that a viewer was both in front of a TV, and had their mobile device with them. Neither of course are constants.

Furthermore, there are other times when “4 or 5 people are trying to cast different things for the TV.” Scotts concluded that, “you’ve got to offer enough different solutions for your target line to allow them to consume content in the way that they want to…. so, for you to say, ‘you can only have Chromecast’ is going to restrict the size of your market because not everyone will be happy with that.”

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