air_tvA new OTT set-top-box, the AirTV is now on sale, and it promises to introduce a compelling option for interested pay-TV cord cutters. The new DISH/Sling featured digital media player STB runs on Android and creates interesting competition for Roku, Apple TV, and other OTT focused media players.

Perhaps the most compelling feature for the $99 AirTV player is the clean integration of local broadcast channels into the programming interface. Local channels are delivered via an OTA antenna that must be connected to the AirTV platform via an AirTV HDMI adapter. AirTV is offering a player/adapter bundle for $129 with a $50 Sling TV credit, available online for now.

airTV is now on sale
AirTV CPE (Source: AirTV website)

AirTV is also “optimized” for Sling TV, providing an integrated skinny bundle of cable channels as well, including CNN, ESPN, HBO and others. The platform also has Netflix and Google Play integrated into its interface, allowing access to popular OTT content. Roku and Apple TV can’t match the integration of local and OTT on a single interface straight out of the box, at least not without some third party help.

local channels on sling tv
Sling TV Interface on AirTV (Source: Sling website)

Additional features of the AirTV platform include:

  • 4K UHD support (legacy HD support as well)
  • Voice activated remote control
  • Android TV OS

Threat to Retransmission Regime?
The AirTV website heavily promotes cord cutting, with specific emphasis on the ability to get local channels without a pay-TV subscription. Any AirTV subscriber who opts for the local broadcast option is a potential loss of monthly revenue to not only broadcasters (through retransmission fees), but also the traditional pay-TV operators who carry them. Should it (and its sure to be coming competitors) gain some traction, it could prove to be a threat to a retransmission consent revenue stream that now counts in the billions.

Challenges do remain though and pay-TV providers still have some tricks up their sleeve to compete. The AirTV platform has no DVR option (at least for now). There is also no easily integrated TV Everywhere or mobile option. Local channels through OTA antennas are not accessible everywhere either.

AirTV recommends at least 3 Mbps broadband for SD viewing and 5 Mbps for HD. No recommendation for 4K content via OTT was offered. Expect more news and hype about AirTV at this week’s CES show.

Join the Conversation

One thought on “Cord Cutter’s Dream? AirTV is Now on Sale, Integrates Locals, Sling, and Netflix

  1. There are a lot of these devices out there now. I have tried most of them trying to find the perfect combo. Right now, I like a Tablo box to record OTA content, then a Playon server to record streaming services, Directv Now for streaming channels, and finally I use a Plex server to integrate everything together. With the special deals that have been available over the holidays and a spare PC sitting in my closet, this gave me access to everything that cable offered for about $250 in one time charges and $40 recurring including HBO. All the tvs and Ipads in my house can be fed from the same system and all content is available away from home including locals. I know others probably have better solutions or/are satisfied with only pieces of the whole, but a little dedication and desire and you can take a $200+ bill down to $40 pretty easily. This device came up a couple of steps short of perfect as you mentioned. If they would have made it available with any online streamer and the ability to add a hard drive to use one of the several open source DVR products out there, they could have gotten there without a huge amount of developmental costs. They probably got funding from Sling to get off the ground though from the looks of it.

    All this is to say that there are a lot of these things out there and there will be a lot more. It is just a matter of time before someone gets it all right. When it happens, buy that stock as quick as you can get it because it will be soaking up the lost values that traditional providers will be losing.

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