Dish Bows 4K HDR-Compatible Streaming Stick

Dish Network’s AirTV subsidiary July 15 announced the launch of a 4K HDR compatible streaming stick, powered by Google’s Android TV operating system.

The palm-sized $79.99 AirTV Mini device integrates Sling TV, Netflix and other over-the-top apps, in addition to OTA digital channels when paired with a compatible antenna and a Wi-Fi-enabled network tuner.

“The AirTV brand is committed to making local TV relevant and easily accessible to streamers,” Mitch Weinraub, director of product development for AirTV, said in a statement.

Users simply plug the AirTV Mini into their television’s HDMI port to access the user experience. Once connected, the device will launch directly into the Sling TV app and users will see Netflix integrated into the Sling TV user interface.

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AirTV Mini users also have access to third-party apps available from Google Play. Local channel availability depends on geographic location and antenna quality and placement.

The streaming stick supports Google Assistant via a dedicated button on the remote to get answers about the weather forecast, game scores or traffic and control smart home devices like lighting and thermostats. Users can also press a Netflix button on the remote to launch the Netflix app for an easy and seamless streaming experience.

The remote also has the ability to control televisions and sound bars, and features a prominent Sling TV shortcut button and a voice search button to find favorite shows and movies.

Voice controls are app-sensitive and allow users to find a specific show or movie within the app they are using, or make commands such as “go to guide,” “show me my DVR” or “rewind 10 seconds.”

AirTV Mini is equipped with a remote finder button, allowing users to locate a misplaced remote with the touch of a button.

For a limited time, new and eligible existing Sling TV customers can receive the AirTV Wi-Fi-enabled network tuner with an indoor antenna free when they prepay for three months of Sling TV (subscription must be $25/month or greater).

Thomson Broadcast Eyes Growing Over-the-Air TV Market

With an uptick in over-the-air broadcast television adoption in the United States, Thomson Broadcast said it is expanding its business here in response to what it sees as an “invigorated broadcast TV” market spurred by the deployment of ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV.

Paris-based Thomson made the announcement this week at the 2019 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

Nielsen recently revealed that over-the-air viewing increased to 14% of U.S. households in 2018 — up from 9% in 2010. The growth comes as increasing numbers of pay-TV households drop or streamline the traditional “cable bundle.”

Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC 3.0) is new technology for antennae TVs that enables 4K resolution and enhanced sound. ATSC 1.0 was developed in 1996 for the analog to digital TV switch. ATSC 3.0 works with a home’s broadband connectivity affording viewers with cable/satellite-quality video transmissions.

Thomson, which for the past several years has focused most of its business on the Asian and African broadcast markets, is opening a New York office and distribution center to meet demand for its low-power to high-power TV transmitters.

“We’re also proposing new solutions for the delivery and monetization of ATSC 3.0 content with an all-software suite of encoding, packaging, signaling, metadata management, service quality assurance, content distribution, security monitoring, media migration, media asset management, playout automation and master control,” Jay Yogeshwar, chief strategy officer at Thomson, said in a statement.

Thomson Broadcast currently has 191 television broadcast clients in the U.S. and this “rebirth” in the U.S. market comes after the company was acquired by Groupe Sipromad of Madagascar, a conglomerate that operates in industrial, technology, finance, real estate, tourism, aviation and broadcasting markets.

In addition to the broadcast market, Thomson is also looking into expanding into the U.S. satellite and aerospace markets and plans to partner with a “prestigious” U.S. university to establish an innovation center in North America.

Return of Rabbit Ears? Over-the-Air Antennae Makes Comeback

When the federal government in 2009 mandated broadcast television switch from analog transmission to digital, conventional wisdom assumed the end of over-the-air TV signals.

New data from Nielsen would argue otherwise.

Nearly a decade after the switch, there are 16 million households employing a digital antennae. That’s up 50% from 5 million homes in 2010.

“And as an increasing number of consumers consider a more à-la-carte approach to their TV sources, there is opportunity for [OTA] to continue growing,” Nielsen wrote in a Feb. 13 blog post.

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While 41% of OTA homes do not use an over-the-top video service such as Netflix, the majority do. Indeed, 8% (1.3 million) of OTA households subscribe to online TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV.

Nielsen found TV consumption highest among households without streaming video — a whopping 4.5 hours daily!

This market segment also spent 16 minutes daily watching DVD/Blu-ray Disc content; 15 minutes on “other” TV; 13 minutes on an Internet-connected device; and six minutes playing video games or consuming cable TV.

Notably, consumption of packaged media (DVD/Blu-ray Disc) content fell to seven minutes daily among OTA homes with SVOD and three minutes among homes with both SVOD and online TV.

Nielsen attributed higher fragmentation for TV consumption driven by Internet-connected device usage – despite the fact SVOD homes with and without a online TV still consume more than 60 minutes of broadcast TV daily. Cable TV consumption increased with online TV access, but still lagged behind broadcast viewing.

“Regardless of OTA home type, broadcast TV [remains] a daily go-to source for content on the TV screen,” wrote Nielsen.