If 2010 was the year for kick-starting TV Everywhere initiatives, 2011 may be the year cable really gets into an OTT frame of mind. First there’s the mad rush to integrate TV services with mobile applications. Comcast’s Xfinity TV app is getting a major promotional blast, and the momentum has pushed CableLabs to create its own version for smaller cable operators. While current app functionality is guide-focused, Comcast has already stated it’s planning to offer on-demand programming through the app in the near future. Verizon meanwhile (a cable provider for all intents and purposes), already has a mobile on-demand offering with the fledgling Flex View app, and says it will build in linear programming early next year.
Beyond Comcast and Verizon, Charter CEO Mike Lovett hinted this week that that the operator may be launching a new over-the-top video offering in the next several months. And Time Warner Cable CEO Jeff Bewkes has suggested that his company may consider offering HBO GO service (HBO over the Internet) direct to consumers in the future without a bundled cable TV package.
It’s no wonder the cable industry is moving to integrate OTT video. Netflix, connected TVs with app stores, and retail OTT boxes are all gaining prominence in consumer households. Even Microsoft is reportedly sniffing around to see if the prospect of launching a new OTT video service is feasible. Game on.