The Consumer Electronics Show officially kicked off this morning and already pay-TV and content providers have announced some new toys, services and tactics.
New powers for Dish's Hopper: The satellite giant is once again igniting chatter at CES. Last year, Dish used the trade show to introduce the powerful Hopper DVR, soon afterward announcing its ad-skipping feature --which led broadcast networks to sue. This year, Dish has announced a new version of the Hopper that integrates Slingbox, allowing customers to watch live or recorded TV on internet-connected tablets, smartphones and computers. It is also adding an app to move DVD content to an iPad for offline viewing. The technology spares Dish the pain of securing "TV Everywhere" rights from each individual content provider, a laborious route that has slowed the pay-TV industry's effort to allow viewing across devices and hopefully fend off streaming-video upstarts. Pricing and availability of the Hopper with Sling will be announced later this month.
AT&T's streaming-video service: The telco has introduced the U-verse Screen Pack, a $5 monthly subscription service that allows existing U-verse pay-TV subscribers to also watch movies on demand on TV sets and connected devices. With a small selection -- the service offers only about 1,500 movies at the start -- U-Verse Screen Pack isn't likely to make much of an impact on Netflix, but AT&T will be happy if it helps retain customers and cash that Netflix and similar services might otherwise capture. Other pay-TV providers, like Comcast, have introduced similar offerings.
Time Warner Cable's new deal with Roku: Roku said at CES that Time Warner Cable subscribers will soon be able to stream up to 300 live channels via its box, a play by the cable company to keep potential cord-cutters in the fold and another move by Roku beyond its essentially disruptive roots and into services for pay-TV subscribers. Time Warner Cable is already available to subscribers on devices like iPhones and tablets, but the deal means its TV app will be available on a connected TV device for the first time. It's also the first live TV deal for Roku, one that blurs the line between traditional cable and over-the-top tech.
Bravo's first app for smart TVs: Bravo is rolling out an app for connected Samsung TVs offering videos, games, polls and social-sharing capabilities. The app will also be available on web-enabled Samsung Blu-ray players, on the Yahoo Widgets app platform and through Google TV. Bravo intends to make money from the app by selling ad units and sponsorship elements including traditional banner ads, logos and pre-roll commercials. Brands can also partner with the network to integrate branded content, Bravo said.