Antenna manufacturer Channel Master next month is rolling out an over-the-air, over-the-top video solution that's targeting households that currently don't have a pay-TV subscription. But the service, set to launch Nov. 1, may also attract pay-TV subscribers disenchanted with triple-digit bills from telcos and cable companies.
Channel Master, which has been around since 1949, produces terrestrial antennas, set-top boxes, home networking accessories and digital media devices. Its newest box, which costs $399, enables free over-the-air HD broadcasts, adds full DVR functionality (including the ability to pause, rewind and record live TV and store and manage personal media content) and gives users access to web content such as On Demand Movies and TV shows. It has even integrated Wal-mart's Vudo on-demand movie service, as well as its app store, giving users access to a wide range of Internet services including streaming video, music-on-demand, photo browsing and social networking.
This step, though, takes it a tad out of its comfort zone.
"For the 15 million households in the United States that do not have a subscription service, they solely rely on an over-the-air antenna," Joe Bingochea, vice president of product management and marketing at Channel Master, told Cable360. "It's the lower end of market that we've served for the past 60 years."
It may be the lower end it's targeting, but there's likely to be more than a little interest from cord cutters.
The new box has evolved over the past year. It started out, the company said, as a sole antenna DVR, which allowed customers to watch a program and record another one. The company later added an Internet connection after requests from their customers.
Channel Master TV includes a dual tuner for digital channels from broadcasters and clear QAM cable; its DVR includes 320GB of storage, enough for 150 hours of SD or 35 hours of HD programming.
Cord cutting, said Bingochea, is "a hot topic. A lot of consumers call us because they're able to cancel their video subscription." But, he adds, "We don't want to support cord cutting per se. We do make the cords."
Is it enough to make on-the-fence cord cutters finally pull the trigger? Without options for current HBO shows and ESPN, it's a long shot... but it does add fuel to the fire. Check out their website.--Jim