Cable TV boxes face new FCC rules, other challenges

A recent survey by Leichtman Research Group reports that 65% of US households have at least one TV set connected to the Internet. This includes smart TVs (TVs with streaming media apps built in), video game consoles, Blu-Ray players, and streaming devices (Rokus, Apple TVs, etc.). This number’s gone up from 44% in 2013. It also outnumbers the number of cable TV boxes in US households.

Speaking of cable TV boxes, the FCC plans to propose rules that’d open up standards for cable TV boxes, allowing anyone (not just cable TV companies) to make compatible devices. Predictably, Comcast and similar entrenched companies are against this, while the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and others are in favor. Disappointingly, Roku’s against this, presumably related to either increased device competition and/or Comcast’s recently announced plans to finally offer its own streaming apps for Roku devices.

Finally, Netflix is the most popular paid streaming service, with 43% of respondents in a recent survey reporting they subscribe to the home of “Orange is the New Black.” See the infographic below:

Infographic: Amazon on the Attack | StatistaInfographic by Statista (CC BY-ND)

These changes are long overdue. Cable boxes are too often outdated, problematic, and poorly maintained equipment cable companies foist on customers. They’re also expensive given the monthly fees Comcast and others charge. And of course, that’s on top of fees just for high definition TV service, which should be a given in this day and age—they don’t charge extra for color TV, after all.

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