2015 may well go down as the year streaming became mainstream. Netflix, Amazon and Hulu continued to expand, The WWE Network broke 1 million viewers, set top boxes and smart TV’s flew off the shelves and Nielsen began to give weight to streamed content in its total viewership equation. What developments stood out for us at The Streaming Advisor? Read our Streaming Superlatives 2015.
Service of the Year
There were a number of major launches in 2015. This included Showtime’s foray into the over the top delivery, and the launch of CBS All Access. If this were actually like the Emmys those other services would be fellow nominees. But the outright champ of the great rise of streaming is HBO Now. HBO Now finally answered the call for a way to watch HBO without paying for a full cable programming bundle. In less than a year HBO Now has become a top app in the streaming world offering viewers the entire HBO catalogue on-demand.
One of the most talked about devices at the 2015 CES was the Razer Forge console. Promising to bring Android gaming to the living room, trumpeting the new Android TV platform and the promise of PC to console gaming the product was seen as a step towards high end PC gaming on the biggest screen in the home instead of a computer monitor. The device got off to a painfully slow start and was marred by major deficiencies such as a lack of support for Netflix, an Android only app used for setup of the device and a lack of truly innovative titles available in the game arena. The company has since announced that PC to console gaming will not launch. Razer has since acquired the Ouya catalogue and launched a game service around its ecosystem called Cortex. It is yet to be seen whether this will matter in the long run.
The Nvidia Shield Android TV console. The Shield console is one of the most hyped products on the market and for good reason. It was the first set top box to offer full 4K streaming, came ready out of the box with its gaming service ready to go, offered PC to console streaming and a game remote complete with a private listening option. Starting at $199.00 even without a TV remote the box was pricy but developed a following in the Android community where it became the flagship for the Android TV platform due to its immense power and 3Gigs of RAM. The device is a great addition to PC gaming homes but is still saddled with Android TV, which has yet to truly take form as an ecosystem. The device also supports Google Cast like its much cheaper counterpart the Google Chromecast. Will it continue to capture the imagination of the streaming public going forward? Time will tell.
Most Anticipated Launch
While all of the major parties in streaming updated their devices including Roku, the Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast the most rumored and hotly anticipated announcement came from Apple. The new Apple TV launched with its own app store, to go along with an improved processor, continued support for AirPlay and a new remote featuring a touch pad used for both TV control and gaming. Critical response has been mixed since the device hit the shelves but Apple reps have told the Streaming Advisor that sales have been strong for the device as it has been paired as an accessory for new iPhones and iPads.
Most Disruptive Technology
Sling Television was first shown to the public at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas. offering 20 channels for 20 dollars at launch including ESPN the service ushered in the era of the “Skinny Bundle”. Sling Television known by many as Sling TV also got in on the HBO game by offering the service to its customers as an add-on to its basic package essentially offering HBO and ESPN along with a collection of popular cable channels for $35.00. Has Sling TV killed the cable industry? Not hardly, but what it has done is force the hand of companies like Time Warner Cable and Comcast to begin to offer their own smaller packages in response. There are now cable company packages for Internet heavy users that offer HBO and more. While there is regular wrangling as to how many subscribers Sling TV actually has there can be no doubt that the service shifted the conversation.
This should really be title best acquisitions. In one year Hulu went from being on the verge of sale to the highest bidder to being a new hub for hollywood hits and original series. This was the year that Hulu had to have in order to remain relevant. The service has existed in some form for over 5 years starting off as a primarily computer based service. The property which is owned by News Corp, Comcast and Disney signed a deal with Epics in the wake of Netflix declining to extend it contact bringing a large number of recognizable titles to a service once known for B movies and indie films to bolster its already robust selection of currently airing and past TV shows. The service also partnered with Showtime to offer its customers access to all of Showtime’s programming for an extra $7.99. With a high profile original mini series on the way and the growth of delayed viewing Hulu could be on its way to a big 2016.