Online video platforms, apps skyrocket in time for holidays

Josh Wein

This holiday season could give the online video industry a boost. Two major new video game consoles are set to debut before the end of the year, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) reportedly has its own new device nearly ready, Roku just refreshed its line of streaming devices, TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO) has a slew of new DVRs with extra online-video features and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) $35 Chromecast is already the best-selling item in Amazon's electronics department.

And that just covers devices connected directly to the TV set. Amazon is taking pre-orders on its Kindle Fire HDX, and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is holding an event later this month presumably to announce a new addition to its iPad product line.

There will be many gifts available at many different price points for friends and family who need a little more online video in their lives.

This new wave of devices, especially the game consoles, will also displace some number of older models that today deliver online video to the TV sets of earlier adopters. Many will surely be scrapped, but some of these older devices will wind up connected to other TV sets within the same household. Others will find their way into new households through eBay or Craigslist or the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, tablet apps for streaming video are becoming more compatible with these devices. Chromecast has added Hulu Plus to its opening-day roster of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and YouTube. Amazon and Netflix both recently added Airplay support to their iOS apps. Apple TV recently added Chromecast-like functionality for movies and TV shows streamed from its servers. And Roku is reportedly adding support for the Netflix-and-YouTube-developed DIAL protocol to add similar functionality.

By January, more consumers will be able to more easily watch online video on their TV sets from the comfort of their couches.

This will be good for major streaming media providers and authenticated pay-TV apps, particularly those which lack the broad distribution enjoyed by Netflix. That company has done so well pushing its apps onto devices and into people's homes that investors have expressed concern the company has few, if any, new customers to introduce its product to in the United States.

But not all media apps will benefit from this influx of streaming devices. Some app developers are finding the process of getting their apps approved for these new platforms too slow. And as more platforms and apps arrive, app developers will have to find ways to make their offerings stand out from the crowd. Marketing TV and movies is a huge business, and one that independent software developers probably lack the cash to play in. --Josh | +Josh Wein | @JoshWein

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