Fan TV gives up on reimagining the cable box

Buyers of the $150 set-top box will get a Nexus Player as consolation, as a partnership with Time Warner Cable dissolves.

Fan TV is discontinuing a $150 set-top box that aimed to reinvent how people watch live TV channels.

Rovi, which acquired Fan TV last year, stopped selling the hardware last week, Variety reports. Rovi is also ending a partnership with Time Warner Cable that put live TV channels in Fan TV’s programming guide.

Fan TV’s hardware launched in April 2014 with the idea of combining live cable channels and streaming sources such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go. All this content appeared in a single interface, and instead of a button-laden remote, users controlled the device with a slick touchpad.

While the idea sounded promising, Fan TV didn’t have a DVR feature, so users still needed a separate box for that purpose. And relying on Time Warner as a hardware gatekeeper severely limited Fan TV’s reach. Variety reports that Fan TV sold only a few dozen boxes in its first months, and the company eventually took a $1.1 million write-down on the unsold inventory.

With the hardware efforts folding up, Fan TV is now focusing on software. The company has long offered mobile versions of its programming guide, but recently launched an app for Android TV set-top boxes that aggregates movies and TV shows from across various streaming sources. Existing Fan TV users will be able to claim a free Nexus Player (currently priced at about $50 through most retailers) to check it out, though the cable component won’t be included completely as Time Warner and Rovi part ways.

Why this matters: Combining live and on-demand programming from across all video sources has become the holy grail for devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Chromecast. Fan TV had the right idea, but tying its fortunes to a cable company was a questionable decision from the start. The new Android TV app actually looks promising, especially for cord cutters, so perhaps Fan TV can fare better with this strategy than it did as a hardware maker.

This story, "Fan TV gives up on reimagining the cable box" was originally published by TechHive.

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