Motorola to Stream Live TV to Tablets, Mobile Devices

Motorola introduced a new device to stream live television to Apple tablets and Android devices through the cable box, as cable companies attempt to hold their ground against Internet television.

The Schaumburg, Ill.-based company said its “Motorola Televation” device can stream live TV to mobile devices by plugging into a cable box and a user’s Wi-Fi router. The gadget can then stream live television directly to the iPad and Android tablets and other mobile devices connected to a home network.

The box is able to transcode video streams instantly, allowing video to stream in high-quality, matching up the resolution, bit rate and quality of the streams to match the resolution of the mobile screen. The Televation also includes digital rights management, or DRM, technology allowing the legal streaming of live television.

Motorola’s latest device may deal another blow to traditional cable companies, which have lost out to online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, the Televation could actually benefit cable and Internet providers.

But Televation eases some of the work cable providers do when delivering television signals to homes. The device shifts a lot of the strain from the broadband network and places it on the home Wi-Fi network instead.

Also, since the Televation device connects to the same video feeds from traditional cable boxes, cable companies won’t have to worry about being sued over live television being sent over broadband networks.

Since the device is streaming directly through the cable signal, Televation is legal and has the same rights as the cable company.

Cable providers can use Televation to eliminate the need several cable boxes throughout a customer’s home. Faulty cable boxes are often the source of customer complaints, so replacing old boxes with video signal boxes like Televation could improve customer ratings in an industry where consumers have often complained about service.

The cable industry has had to adjust frequently to threats from Internet streaming sites. Cable providers such as Time Warner and Cablevision have created their own iPad applications to allow users to stream content on handheld devices.

Cable companies, which are gradually acknowledging the shift of consumer viewing to multiple screens and devices, are attempting to meet consumer needs before they migrate away.

Television channels like HBO and ESPN have also begun streaming content to mobile devices. HBO Go allows HBO subscribers to watch HBO programming on demand on iPhones and iPads, while ESPN allows customers to stream sports games and news shows on their iPhone.

ESPN’s service is limited to Bright House Networks, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS customers. If the demand for the app increases, cable companies will want a piece and may try to strike a deal with ESPN to gain access.

Over one million cable subscribers cut the cord last year in favour of alternative sources of entertainment. While cable subscriptions are still high, cord-cutting numbers will most likely continue to grow as people get used to watching TV on mobile, tablet and computer screens.

Cable companies must continue to evolve as streaming services like Netflix and Hulu continue to gain popularity and former cable customers. Motorola Televation is just one stop in the evolution of the cable industry, and will take time to see if it has a positive impact.

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