Days of collecting DVDs, tapes and storing them in a cupboard are gone as the streaming services through the internet are gaining traction, apart from disrupting the traditional business models.
Streaming has changed the consumer habits and is giving a boost to the industry with the launch of local services from Starz Play and icflix for a monthly subscription, along with other devices available in the market.
According to PWC, streaming video services such as Netflix and Hulu will make more money per year than the US movie box office by 2017.
PWC analysts say that online and TV-based streaming services revenues to rise to $11.47 billion in 2016, before reaching $17.03 billion in 2018.
Nadeem Khanzadah, head of omnichannel retail at Jumbo Group, said that sales of devices such as Apple TV and Google have doubled this year compared to last year, albeit from a low base.
“People are mostly buying these devices as an accessory to mirror YouTube videos with their TVs, rather than to watch premium contents,” he said.
For streaming movies, a recommended broadband speed is required. For standard definition movies, a broadband speed of 2.5 Mbps is recommended while 5 Mbps speed is required for streaming HD (high definition) content and above 12 Mbps to stream ultra-high definition (4K) content.
Most of the TV programmes, movies and shows need subscriptions to watch it in the UAE but premium apps are geographically restricted.
Many devices such as Apple TV, Roku 3 and Google Chromecast, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 are available in the market to stream contents.
Gulf News takes a look into what the devices can offer and the apps that work with each device.
It is a small networking appliance that can receive data from a number of sources and stream it to your TV screen.
The device can be accessed even without an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, but it plays nicely with other Apple devices, so you can use an Apple TV to mirror the screen of your iOS device and have everything displayed on the TV.
It has the best design when compared to other streaming video boxes available in the market.
It can play contents, view photos and play music from any Mac or Windows computers running iTunes, and from iPhones using Airplay. The AirPlay is a good feature. Simply by tapping the AirPlay icon on your iOS device, or clicking the button in iTunes as a video is playing, select Apple TV and it starts playing on your TV a few seconds later.
Users can buy or rent movies available on the iTunes. Renting a movie on the iTunes starts from 0.99 cents and buying a movie from $4.99.
Purchasing content is handled with your Apple ID, which the Apple TV remembers, so you simply need to enter your password whenever you want to buy something.
Not all the videos are of HD quality.
If you’re on a slow internet speed, you can downgrade the quality of the video you rent or stream from iTunes from 1080 pixels to 720 pixels or standard definition.
Apple TV has many of the big names such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, iTunes, HBO Go etc.
The ones that can be watched are ABC News (free), NFL Now (subscription required), NHL (subscription required), Bloomberg (free), Qello (subscription required), Red Bull TV (free), CBS Sports (free), Crunchyroll (subscription required), Tastemade (subscription required), Dailymotion (free), TED (free), Flickr (free), Vimeo (free), Wall Street Journal (free), KorTV ((subscription required), WWE (subscription required), MLB (subscription required), Young Hollywood (free), YouTube (free) and NBA outside the US (subscription required).
The device is connected to the TV via HDMI and through WiFi to the computer.
Even though there is a remote, the Apple TV can also be controlled with an iPad or iPhone using Apple’s Remote app.
The purchased movies and TV shows can also be streamed or downloaded to other Apple devices running iTunes. All the purchased contents stay in the cloud.
The Apple TV is officially launched here and is priced at Dh279.
It is a thumb-sized media streaming device, a tiny three-inch dongle, that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV and it is your ticket to some big screen entertainment.
It is the cheapest way to get smart apps and Google Play store onto your old TV.
If you have a Samsung Smart TV and a Samsung smartphone, you can mirror whatever is on the device to the TV using ‘Screen Mirroring’.
Use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to cast your Chromecast apps right on to the big screen. There is a few seconds’ worth of buffering to get through, but it is short enough not to be too annoying.
It is compatible with Android phones and Android tablets running Android 2.3 and higher, iPads and iPhones running iOS 6.0 and higher, the Chrome browser on Windows 7 and 8, and Mac OS 10.7 and above, and Chromebooks running Chrome 28 or higher.
The Chromecast app has to be downloaded from the Google Play store and then should be connected to the WiFi network. It takes only a few minutes to set up.
It lets you watch movies, TV shows and play games right on your HDTV. It works with Chrome (For Mac and Windows) and Apple OS also. There is no remote control and the device which you are streaming the media can be used as a remote control for controlling the playback, volume, and other parameters.
There are close to 400 apps that can be streamed. Some apps work only with Mac and some apps only with Android devices. Most of the favourite apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now require subscription. There are many free apps which work in the UAE, more than Apple TV.
Setting up the device is simple but the device needs power to work and has to be connected to a power source. If your TV has a USB port on it, you can use that as the power source.
Users can send videos and movies from the smartphone or tablet via cast. Cast is a small icon in a shape of a TV. Once the video or movie is selected, the TV-like icon on the right side of the device has to be selected to be paired with the TV. Chromecast directly pulls the video from the internet, rather than trying to stream it from your device. If your network is flaky, this will result in choppy performance.
Apps such as AllCast enable Android and Apple iOS users to display video and photos through the Chromecast.
The disadvantage is that users cannot cast videos or photos on the device, the app does not support. As it is not officially launched in the UAE, the price varies. It starts from Dh129 and on Amazon, it is available for $28.
Roku 3 is another Apple TV-like device with a remote control, which is a bit more cluttered than Apple TV’s remote. The remote has built-in shortcuts for Netflix, Hulu, Rdioand Amazon, along with buttons for rewind, fast forward, and pause. It has over 100,000 movies and TV episodes, plus music, news, sports, and more. The movies can be bought or rented.
There is also an embedded microphone at the top of the remote for voice search.
It houses an Ethernet, WiFi, USB port for local media playback and a microSD slot for storing additional channels and games.
It has nearly every major streaming service others have, along with hundreds of lesser-known apps like classic TV and Kung Fu movies. Roku has its own mobile app for controlling the device from a touch screen. Users can mirror a phone or tablet display for photos, songs and videos to your TV. It is priced at £99.99.
PlayStation 4/Xbox One
Even though these devices are meant truly for gaming enthusiasts, these devices can also be used for streaming contents but not in the region.
Sony said that the streaming services are not available in the region.
Kerim Ozbakirci, head of Xbox division at Microsoft Gulf, said that the streaming services are not available in the region.
People can watch YouTube, Twitch, Du TV and Al Jazeera news channel on Xbox One, and personal video and music contents. Recently, Microsoft has added TuneIn Radio app.
With TuneIn app, users can stream real radio stations playing live from around the world even when playing games or using other apps on the console.
Ozbakirci said that Icflix and beIN Sports are coming to the Xbox soon. Microsoft is engaged with local partners to push contents through Xbox One.