Yahoo has a plan to restructure the way you watch TV. And it may not involve cable TV companies.
Already, TV makers Samsung and Vizio have signed on as partners.
At CES, the electronics conference in Las Vegas this week, CEO Marissa Mayer unveiled “Yahoo Smart TV” during her keynote address.
Let’s get this out of the way: It’s not a new television set. Rather, it’s an app that sits inside other companies’ TV menu guides, just like Netflix and Hulu.
The difference is that Yahoo Smart TV works like a fancy, beautifully designed channel guide that learns what you like from your viewing habits.
Crucially, the guide offers you shows that are both on and off cable, including material from YouTube and other web video sources.
And it works even if you don’t have a cable TV subscription: The menu is dynamic, offering you selections from whatever sources are available, and whatever sources you’ve subscribed to. And it doesn’t discriminate in favour or against regular TV. Shows are recommended based on your viewing patterns and the times they are on.
“It has truly exceptional recommendations. You really do need a guide to bring everything to you in one place,” said Yahoo’s Adam Cahan, svp/mobile and emerging products, during Mayer’s big speech. “It’s learning from what you watch.”
If Yahoo Smart TV catches on it could save or kill traditional TV. Regular television — in the form of satellite and cable TV subscriptions — is dying a long, slow death as users drift away to their laptops and tablets to watch video from non-TV sources.
Yahoo Smart TV promises to at least help keep viewers on the sofa in front of their regular TV sets, watching something that may or may not be on “TV.”
But Yahoo Smart TV also recommends web-based video. And it works without a cable subscription. So it may end up advertising to viewers that they can survive perfectly well without paying $US100 a month for NBC and HBO.
The worst part, for cable companies, is that Yahoo has already struck deals for its inclusion on TVs made by Samsung and Vizio. Those two brands supply 65% of the U.S. market for new TVs, Business Insider was told by a booth attendant at CES. (That share sounds a bit high to us, but it’s still a lot of TVs.)