US satellite operator DirecTV and Samsung Electronics have partnered to produce the first RVU-compatible TVs. The technology, available in select Samsung TVs from March 2011, allows DirecTV customers multi-room DVR (mDVR) access directly through their TV, avoiding the need for additional set-top boxes (STB).
RVU is an open standard from the RVU alliance (of which Samsung and DirecTV are founding members) built upon the DLNA and UPnP standards. It enables secondary RVU clients (in this case Samsung TVs) to connect to a central RVU server (the DirecTV STB), supplied by a content provider, and receive the same viewing experience as on the central server.
The distinction between the domain of a STB and that of a TV is blurring. Across Western Europe, 40% of all TVs installed contain at least one integrated digital tuner, whilst connectable TVs accounted for 26% of all TVs sold in 2010. Many TV manufacturers are choosing to embed proprietary platforms directly into their products, enabling access to applications and over-the-top (OTT) content.
Together, Samsung and DirecTV have launched the first product that enables consumers to have access to mDVR without the need for additional STBs. A relatively recent technology, mDVR enables households to utilise their DVR on more than one TV, typically through additional low-end STBs. To an extent, DirecTV's partnership with Samsung shows the ambivalence of operators towards the STB, providing they can exert control over their subscriber devices via middleware and UI. As operators strive to increase multiroom viewing within TV households, they need to make it as convenient as possible for the consumer to access their content, which may in the long term come through TVs.
In the short term, this partnership between Samsung and DirecTV is unlikely to have a huge effect - for a DirecTV subscribing household to utilise this technology they would need both a recent DirecTV STB and a new high-end Samsung TV. However, the repercussions for the set-top box are interesting. If RVU, or a similar open standard, becomes widely adopted by TV manufacturers, we could see a migration in households towards a single STB at the centre of the home. Such a box could then act as the hub for the home network, storing content and providing DVR functionality which would then be accessible from any TV or client within the house.
Find Out More > iSuppli | Screen Digest TV Technology Intelligence Service