Retailers, consumers and prices
Blockbuster got into the set-top box game right in time for the holiday season with a new digital media player that brings fewer but newer titles from the Web to TV six months after arch rival Netflix launched its $99 Roku set-top box. Netflix followed that launch with similar partnerships with Tivo, Samsung, LG Electronics and Microsoft.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. While the number of people who watch movies or TV via the Web is still small, media and technology executives believe a host of new technologies will make Web to TV a mainstream staple. Vudu already sells a $299 set-top box that lets users download TV shows, while Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3 game consoles can also be used to download programming from the Web for TV viewing.
Apple of course is trying to take a bite of the market with its Apple TV device that lets viewers download shows from their computers onto their TVs.
This could save consumers a lot of money-- bypassing the need to pay hefty cable fees -- and a lot of time when you factor in all the hours spent watching commercials. These devices do require fast Web connections, but market researcher Gartner forecasts there will be 499 milion residential broadband subscribers globally by 2012, up from 323 million at the end of 2007.