DirecTV has a trial underway for their Home Media Center, which aims to provide DirecTV content on TVs without the need for a traditional set-top-box (STB). The move illustrates a trend among service providers to lessen dependency on STBs for the digital distribution of content throughout the digital home and expand their reach into their customer’s digital lifestyle.
DirecTV is using Remote User Interface (RUI) technology, which is being championed by the RVU Alliance. RVU is pushing this new specification, which utilizes universal plug and play (UPnP) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) technologies, to allow service providers like DirecTV to extend their content and user interface experience to networked devices like connected TVs, Blu-ray players, and game consoles, which are increasingly finding their way into the digital home.
“The DIRECTV Home Media Center is going to simplify the way our customers watch television throughout their homes and give them access not only to their favorite content in HD and DVR functionality on each television, but to a consistent, feature rich user interface, no matter what room they are in,” said Romulo Pontual, executive vice president and CTO for DIRECTV.
The trial is with 150 users and will use DirecTV equipment. But the ultimate goal is to give consumers the ability to buy third party connected consumer electronic devices, and have them seamlessly integrate with DirecTV service, all without having to use a STB.
If you take this concept a few steps further, you could envision a customer buying a connected TV at retail, setting it up, and then being presented with a bunch of icons/apps for video service options from the likes of DirecTV, Comcast, or FiOS. It’s a reality you already see today from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, all of whom already have apps on select connected TVs, game consoles, etc.
This concept is a little more difficult for DirecTV, considering their need for an external dish. For them, this possible future scenario is a way to initiate a new customer install. For others like Comcast and Verizon, it could be an easier point-and-click sales proposition. DirecTV’s move is an early step in the transition to a digital home, where service providers will need the technology to effectively compete in a digital world full of differing expectations and options.