Boxee Live TV

Last week I stopped by our portfolio company Boxee's offices to catch up with the team. On the way out, they gave me a "dongle" and an antenna to put into the back of the Boxee Box in the conference room in our office. I did that earlier this week and now we have live HD TV coming into our conference room over the air.

Boxee showed this off at CES last week and here's a short one minute video from The Verge showing how it works (with a 20 second pre-roll).

When I set this up in the USV conference room, the Boxee Box found 53 channels being broadcast in HD over the air. We have the basic broadcast channels, CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, plus channel 9, 11, 13, and a whole bunch of other channels I never knew were broadcast.

If you don't have cable and are relying on the Internet for your video entertainment, this is a great way to get additional content for free. It reminds me of my childhood when we connected a TV to an antenna and turned it on and we were watching TV coming in over the air into our home.

The Boxee Live TV dongle and antenna will be available shortly. You can pre-order it here. You do need a Boxee Box to make this work.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    I tried something like this at my home in the burbs, but the antenna barely received one station. Results obviously better in NYC.

    1. fredwilson

      right. i guess that’s how it was back in the days before cable too

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        That reminds me of putting “metal shirt-pant hangers” on the TV antenna … it adds to the signal. My mom knows where to find the hangers if some are missing :-)It was fun … sometimes a particular channel will get received only on 1-direction. So switching channel is climbing on the terrace and rotating the antenna… a button push on the remote was that tough those days.

      2. JimHirshfield

        Unfortunately so. I guess I expected “digital” to mean that the signal and quality would be better. In all fairness, the instructions recommended mounting the antenna on the side of the house and I wasn’t lookin’ to go all Bob Vila on this effort.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Digital is great because you can deliver so many more channels over less bandwidth.But from a picture quality perspective, a sucky analog signal still beats a sucky digital signal any day of the week.Such is life… ūüôā

          1. JimHirshfield

            Hadn’t thought about it that way, but I guess you’re right. I’d rather listen to a crackly vinyl record than a digital song full of gaps.

          2. ErikSchwartz

            Yes. The failure mode of digital is catastrophic.

    2. John Revay

      “your results may vary” ¬†

      1. fredwilson


      2. JimHirshfield


  2. Rohan

    Thought there’s be a SOPA/PIPA update!

    1. jason wright

      Never let principles get in the way of a sale. That’s ironically also the underlying principle of….. SOPA .

    2. John Revay

      Yup thought so as well…Late last night I was watching the MSNBC/Rachel Maddow show she did a great job talking about the¬†hypocritical US congress.. then talked about power of stop SOPA movement was ¬†– It was the Internet vs Lobbyist – and the Internet won.Side note – I just live outside of NYC – I wish I made it to the NYC protest. I saw a photo by¬†@bfeld

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Love the way it begins with MO… sigh.¬† At least Blunt changed his tune.¬† Surprised me.

    3. fredwilson

      Visit for thatThe tech industry has woken upWe can go back to talking about tech, startups, and innovation hereBut that does not mean we have won. But it does mean that others have joined the fight

      1. William Mougayar

        The headlines are so telling, wow. The tide has turned definitely. 

        1. William Mougayar

          Fred, you’ll be pleased to also see the Reddit headlines on that topic:¬†…¬†¬†

  3. RichardF

    …for a minute I thought it was Friday when I saw this post ūüėČ

    1. fredwilson

      Fun Friday tomorrowNutrition will be the topic

    2. jason wright


      1. RichardF

        Alfalfa sprouts …..

  4. William Mougayar

    That’s too much of a coincidence. I just bought a digital/HDTV antenna last evening ($25), but it only picked up 1 channel (outside of the city).Is that Boxee antenna much better than the ones you can find at Best Buy or Wal-Mart? Will it pick up more channels? Then, with 4G in my area, I can finally get a Boxee.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know for sure but I suspect its your reception not your antenna

      1. William Mougayar

        I strongly suspect the same as well. The strength of these digital signals are probably proportional to the other over-the-air services like 3G, Wi-Max, etc. because the same towers often carry the various signals.I will play around with its positioning.- posted via

    2. JimHirshfield

      I had the same experience so I returned the antenna to the store where I had picked it up from a pile of other returned/repackaged antennas (antennae?)

      1. William Mougayar

        I am still experimenting as well. I bought one that was flat model for $25 and another with rabbit ears for $16, and each one brought in a different channel in different locations of the house. Go figure.- posted via

  5. Alessandro Pistilli

    Hello.I think this is really cool. The uncool thing is the fact they charge shipping costs. In the amazon era nobody expexts to pay up to 30% in shipping costs. They could have handled this piece better, imho…AlePs: I’ve got a boxee box last year and I’m gonna get this too…

    1. fredwilson

      They aren’t amazon. They aren’t making money on this thing. Its an add-on to improve the user’s experience with the box

      1. Alessandro Pistilli

        Just to be clear, I love what they’re doing.But I think the purchase process is part of the user experience.I remember I bought the Box from Amazon, and it was free of shipping charges.Why not doing the same now?It’s a little thing in the big picture, but customers might get turned down and give up on you easily…

        1. jason wright

          The purchase process (how to get the thing) is one of the biggest ‘friction’ barriers to a sale. The first is the central proposition of the product or service, the second the purchase price.

        2. fredwilson

          it will be on amazon shortly

      2. Rob Hunter

        It’s silly, but having a shipping price makes you think about the purchase twice. ¬† It gives users a second shot at “do I really want this?”, and shipping fees leave a bad taste in their mouth (presumably because they don’t really end up “seeing” that value).Without knowing the purchase process,¬†@jasonpwright:disqus¬†is right in pointing out the friction problem – and there’s no real upside to adding friction to your purchase process. ¬†I’d bet that users are happier with “free” shipping translating into inflated costs for all users rather than shipping that fits where they are in the country, even if there’s some premium paid in the “free” shipping model. ¬†I’m not sure how to test it, but I bet that’s true.That being said, it looks like a nifty device. ¬†“It just works” is a good and lofty ideal.

      3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Yes, Amazon, the Walmart of the Internet.The belief that “free shipping” is actually “free” and complaining that Boxee is charging $6.50 for UPS ground which is discounted from the base shipping rate of UPS (Note to Boxee – ¬†advertise “DISCOUNTED SHIPPING” because you did discount the rate about 20%!That is why I got out of producing mass market goods a few years ago. ¬†With a niche market you don’t have to play “follow the leader” you can actually lead!

  6. Ana Milicevic

    This is great — but wouldn’t it be cooler if there was a way to connect your TV or computer directly sans a box? That way you could watch broadcast TV on other screens too. I realize that probably doesn’t make much sense for Boxee as a business model right now, but the ultimate goal is likely smaller, sleeker, and more portable devices. Perhaps a future version will include Boxee software, be as portable as the dongle, and you could store your media out in some cloud. #wishlistingI’ve been eagerly awaiting Roku’s take on the dongle antenna (that’s supposed to come out later this year) as an extension to my AppleTV setup. ¬†

  7. Neil Braithwaite

    @Rohan thought there would be a “SOPA/PIPA update today.” I was wondering the same thing? With all the buzz in the tech community and here on AVC I was excited to check in and see what Fred thought of the coverage it got on the MSM. I for one was encouraged that all the MSM covered it fairly well. And it looked as if some Senators actually were moved to come out against the bills. (Marco Rubio of FL was one who jumped off the fence onto our side) Unfortunately, Senate majority leader Harry Reid is all-in FOR both bills.… And of course Nancy Pelosi, who supports SOPA, couldn’t help playing politics with the issue. http://campaign2012.washing… But my favorite piece of th eday came from Rick Santelli who chose to go a little deeper on the issue in a way only Santelli can.¬†

    1. fredwilson

      i’m very pleased with what is going on with PIPA and SOPA. sounds like i should do a post on it. i will do that this weekend.

      1. Jeff Sepp

        Jessica Lawrence just sent out an update email after the NYTM protest. ¬†Proponents are trying to force a vote called a cloture in the Senate.Brief breakdown building on Chris Heald’s excellent post in Mashable yesterday¬†http://www.lifestylentrepre….

  8. mikenolan99

    I recently sent back all my dish equipment after my ancient Sony Tube TV finally stopped working.¬† Time to live in the streaming universe – no more $135 Dish TV bill each month for me.A few days ago I received a call from Nielsen.¬† Since I used to own my own Radio Stations I could never participate in a survey.¬† Now I get $5 to tell them we don’t watch TV.¬†According to the statistics I represent about 4,500 homes.

  9. andyswan

    Where do I plug in my phonograph?

    1. fredwilson of course

      1. andyswan

        hahahahah that would be so awesome.I want to tap into live DJs from around the world for my house party!!

        1. William Mougayar

          When is the party? 

  10. Marc Delurgio

    Too bad your basketball games aren’t broadcast over the air ūüôā

    1. Marc Delurgio

      btw, there’s a massive amount of bandwidth available for OTA broadcasts – this could be an interesting area for innovation. Of course the bandwidth is only in one direction, but it could be used for public information and potentially coupled with location based services (client side) to provide microlocal information.

      1. fredwilson

        i’d like to see some of that spectrum come back for unregulated uses like wifi

    2. fredwilson

      i know. but my son and i have been able to watch every knicks game since new years on the internet using some pirate stream somewhere. the picture isn’t that good, but it’s better than not watching at all

      1. Akif H.

        but streaming takes up too much bandwidth. Not sure if I should mention the name, but there is a software called SopCast that lets you stream as well.

      2. Rohan

        Did you try by any chance?I know I suggested it to you earlier but wasn’t sure if you did.Quality on Veetle is typically better than the rest (Sopcast, TvU et al)

        1. fredwilson

          we’ve been using

          1. Rohan

   good. and also good.¬† better if the game is on. And it should. It’s Palo Alto based so I guess all American sports should be on.¬†

          2. Sasha Chh

            lol @ hyperlinking that- if SOPA passes that’s 20 years to life for you!

        2. Akif H.

          ya veetle is pretty good as well. They support HD too!

        3. William Mougayar

          Veetle looks interesting. Have you tried it Rohan? It looked like a YouTube for TV.

          1. Rohan

            Yup, William. Used it multiple times for HD football games. Veetle very good.  

          2. William Mougayar

            From the UK and in your international travels? Cool! – posted via

    3. jason wright

      Or in the air – head band micro cams would rock.

  11. Sean Black

    Hey Fred, I got your post via FeedBlitz shortly after you posted it today, so it looks like you fixed it.

    1. fredwilson


  12. JimHirshfield

    I want my back!!!

  13. ShanaC

    Bleh to OTA, Long live the internet for live broadcasts!

    1. fredwilson

      i agree but there is a massive amount of unused OTA bandwidth in the digital TV spectrum

      1. ShanaC

        So, can we give it over to wifi or 4g?- posted via

    2. ErikSchwartz

      Nothing handles scaling lots of incremental users in a tight geographic area like OTA broadcasting.

      1. ShanaC

        Not if very few people use it…at that point we could use that spectrum more efficiently.- posted via

  14. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Hi Fred – A dongle – woyld that be some form of DRM ?

    1. fredwilson

      no, it’s just the little piece of hardware in the hand in the visual on this webpage

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        OK Fred ¬†– (Someone should write a song)… ¬†Oh they did already Errol Dunkley – vid :).I was confusing with… My bad ūüôā

  15. Morgan Warstler

    Now if they will just throw down an encoder and EPG, and start letting people cloud DVR files, we can make use of my crowd based upscaling!Come on Avner.  Record low, remaster in HD, store only one file.  Lifetime Unlimited DVR = Boxee goes BOOM!

    1. fredwilson

      i can’t reply to this without revealing too much so i won’t

      1. Morgan Warstler

        good, CES I looked high and low for a Asian Android TV knock off that had the cojones to touch the video stream, something to one up GOOG – nothing. ¬†Tried mightily to convince Marvell to give it some serious thought when they are feeling Logitech-style butthurt in 6 months. ¬†Maybe that stuck.Avner, when you run into “crowdscaling” (lets call it that), let’s chat again!¬†

  16. pfreet

    Nevermind! (There’s no delete on Disqus?)

  17. jasonjj

    Love the effort to kill cable/satellite however, every television sold in North America the past three years has an ATSC tuner already built in. All this product does is utilize the excellent Boxee UI for an EPG. If they added cloud DVR that would be interesting.

  18. fredwilson

    stay tuned

  19. reece

    we have a great living room experience at our office… sans cable… and¬†we use an antenna to get live TV (read: football).¬†works fine for us¬†and congrats to the Boxee team on this launch!

  20. kidmercury

    i underestimated wikipedia’s strike, that actually was effective. i saw bunch of non-techies start crying about SOPA because they lost wikipedia. lots of times people won’t learn without learning the hard way. that’s why the financial crisis fo 2008 was such a blessing. we’re not out of the woods yet though. next step is for tech companies to work together to engage in civil disobedience. the reddit dude, alexis ohanian or something, was on techcrunch tv being interviewed by erick schonfeld about sopa. schonfield was like “you gonna obey if this passes” and ohanian hemmed and hawed a bit and found a polite way of saying “hell yeah i ain’t trying to go to jail bro!” the next step is to make it easier for ohanian and others to lead civil disobedience efforts, so that he can feel protected and risk is minimized when obeying cosmic/moral law instead of US government law. the way to create that sort of protection is to create a union of sorts, bound by its own sort of government, that unites tech companies against SOPA, PIPA, COICA, and all the other stuff. this is how terrorist cells, gangs, and mafias successfully operate. creating an alternate DNS system is well within reach if tech companies agree to do it.¬†people are probably still too afraid, but we are getting closer. five years ago if you said something like the SOPA strikeback would have happened people would have said no way, they would say SOPA wouldn’t be proposed in the first place because the USA is the land of the free (lol). yet here we are. the acceleration rate of the revolution only increases from here, especially as the economy deteriorates, something that remains inevitable so long as the excessive debt and monetary policy that enables such debt are not dealt with. ¬†finally as a reminder legislation is the nice way of doing things, just to make it seem like people actually support it. they can go the military route and execute whatever type of false flag they need to declare an emergency. this why ron paul is so important, he’s the candidate who stands for real freedom that has the best chance of actually winning (yes of course still an underdog, but at least people know his name). it’s also why ending war is the what gives the pro-constitution/anti-SOPA crowd the winning move, the checkmate against tyranny. and of course, to end war, all we need is the truth that sets us free. #911wasaninsidejob

    1. RichardF

      yup, shame none of the other big destination sites had the cojones that wikipedia had.

      1. fredwilson

        i like what tumblr did which was stay up but offer its users the ability to go dark. they heavily promoted it on their service.

        1. RichardF

          I appreciate it must be difficult for any site to do what wikipedia did but a full blackout is what got everyone talking. Here in the UK there was no coverage of SOPA until yesterday. When wikipedia went dark it was main headlines on the BBC news here.Huge respect to wikipedia, they did more than anyone to bring attention about SOPA to the masses.

          1. fredwilson

            i agree

  21. William Mougayar

    Re: “Boxee Box found 53 channels being broadcast in HD over the air”. Does anyone know where the infrastructure is for supporting HD over the air? Are we early days? Are they installing more towers as we speak? Just looking for some insights here, because I don’t know.¬†

    1. ErikSchwartz

      Your local affiliate TV station is doing it. They are generally using the same spectrum license they used back in the rabbit ear days

  22. Eric Pratum

    This is pretty interesting. For about 3 years or more, my solution has been an EyeTV USB/antenna connector with a TV Guide sub (for guide info and whatnot). This PVRs and converts for iTunes, which syncs to my phone and iPad as well as my other home sharing computers. Depending on the metro area, I get between 20 and 50 channels, but maybe 10 at most that are actually worth watching.For everything else, I head out to Hulu and whatnot… of course that’s easy when you’re on a media center. I have really liked boxee and similar solutions in the past because they weren’t inclusive of broadcast, but I’d consider them again now.

  23. sickstadium

    Boxee turning their user’s on to this use configuration is smart. I have this same set up with the SONY/Google TV. The $25 digital antenna was plugged into the back and it just worked with the Google TV EPG. In Seattle we get all the network stations plus the extra stations they broadcast. So you get local news, plenty of sports and most of the Sounders FC games. I even get Universal Sports so I can watch pro skiing. (The funny thing is that we still have to move the rabbit ears every once in a while.) The integration with Google TV is smooth. #FutureTV

  24. Aaron Klein

    I wasn’t entirely sold on the “blackout” concept but, as usual, the market seems to have arrived at the optimal solution.Wikipedia and Craigslist are two services that you can live without for a day but drive enough traffic to really raise awareness.Twitter stayed up so we could communicate about it.The local coffee shop stayed open so I could medicate the side effects of AVC withdrawal.And Google’s approach was incredibly effective. Their infographic and petition were what I saw normals posting all day long.All in all, a good day for Internet freedom yesterday. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, but the tide has turned and we’ve got ’em on the run!

    1. ShanaC

      So was facebook. ¬†I actually was fielding a question or two about what was going on.Note that the person asking is trying to start a new web tv series….so yeah…the people who need to know did learn about this stuff from the protests.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Yep. I edited that comment to say “post” because the normals weren’t tweeting…they don’t really tweet much. Yet.

  25. Gary Krivin

    First time commenting, long time reader. ¬†I recently bought the boxxee box after a good amount of research, being able to use the Boxee to stream video & pictures from my computer put it over the top of the competition for me. ¬†Great news about the live tv feature, one step closer to being able to cut the cord with cable! ¬†When will Boxee start streaming Amazon’s video service?

    1. fredwilson

      when the lawyers of the world stop controlling the content

  26. Otto

    Love the Boxee app for iPad. Now I might have to finally buy a Boxee Box.

  27. Vitomir Jevremovic

    Interesting fact is that in some countries (like mine, Serbia), due to lack of any decent streaming digital TV service, people, especially younger generations are not watching TV at all. Internet, thus YouTube is their only source of information nowadays.. and this is an emerging  trend..Wondering how that impacts long term plans for international expansion of such technologies.. the fact that people are changing their habits of watching TV as it is

    1. jason wright

      Traditional TV will come to be seen as having been merely a transitional behavior, and a dumbing one. Rejoice at its demise. 

  28. baba12

    If you are like me, then you don’t have cable TV, you rely on over the air (OTA) broadcast content. I have a $20 power antenna attached to my window and I get he 53 odd channels Mr.Wilson refers to. Once broadcast went to digital the main channels like NBC, ABC,CBS, FOx etc have sub channels which are not in HD.The best solution is to have ¬†OTA, a high speed broadband connection and a device like Boxee to get good content. The day content providers are able to break away from cable operators in terms of pricing/deals they will find that many will get that content streamed via the internet and cable companies will just be providing the pipes. That is unacceptable to the current oligarchy in the cable tele business.Though streaming content is not going to be the best experience as when more content is created in HD bandwidth even with DOCSIS 3 in place will be an issue.OTA HD broadcast is just awesome and I love PBS as they provide the best quality of all channels for most of the content. NBC,ABC,CBS,Fox all don not always have 1080p or 1080i content at best it is 720p.I have a mac mini connected to a synology diskstation wirelessly and connected to my TV as well. I get OTA stuff and I will stream content I may download from around the net. I also have a Brooklyn Public Library Card and reserve and get the movies I want on DVD to view.¬†I am not one to spend money on subscribing to stuff I don’t think is high quality ¬†content.The libraryr gets HBO stuff a year later maybe but that is ok.When content creators connect with me directly I shall buy a season of a show at a time. Till these folks stop cblocking each other, I shall sit out on the sides and observe.Boxee is great for those who are not resourceful to find stuff.

  29. Vinod Khurana

    have been following this blog silently for a while. Boxee is now indispensable for me. have been using it ever since they launched their software (3 years i think). I worked with a company who did the user experience for boxee. It runs on my mac which is connected to my hometheater via optical cable and TV via HDMI. It has become my default media center for locally stored music/videos on a 2TB NAS drive and on the internet via boxee apps. And the gesture mode on the boxee iphone app is just great. And it is only going to get more important as more and more TV moves to the internet.I may just buy the box for this dongle

  30. daryn

    Looks cool – I played with boxee early on, but don’t have a box / haven’t checked it out recently. This might be a good reason to.My home setup is streaming Netflix and Amazon (on Blu-Ray players), and over-the-air HD. There are a couple shows I’d like to watch in-season, but until HBO and the others get their heads out of their asses and let me pay them directly without having cable, I’ll deal with being a year behind.

  31. Guest

    Hi Fred. I’m an aspiring entrepreneur interested in products like Squareup, Roku, Boxee. As a software developer I’m more familiar with the process of starting up apps. Do you have any suggestions for scrappy entrepreneurs to get started on products like those mentioned above, that have a small hardware component to go along with the software? Are there companies that can help you build prototypes like this for cheap?

  32. andyidsinga

    over the air HD is pretty great. the magic is really in getting it is the antenna and amplifier right.i’ve messed with this some ..even built a diy hd antenna and bought one too. reception is great on clear days and crappy in the portland rain. i used a product called “hdhomerun” by to decode the hd signal.anyhow – very cool boxee is doing that.There are also free over the air satelite signals out there – maybe boxee puts something together for that too?

  33. hisnameisjimmy

    I’m especially curious about new hardware from Boxee. It’s been over a year since they launched the Boxee Box, and while I really want to buy it, I’m terrified that they will release a new product with stuff like the LiveTV built in and a better gpu, which would be a total bummer. ¬†I feel like a yearly release cycle is pretty normal with the improvements that happen with gpus and cpus.

  34. Bmaxwell

    I have a question related to what Boxee does.  Does it aggregate all tv shows found on the internet (like, etc) and allow users to access those for free via the boxee box?  I am a little confused as to what it does and how to know what TV shows are available.  I recently bought an AppleTV and it seems the Boxee is a more robust device in terms of TV/movie watching and a better alternative to cable.Any insight would be etremely helpful!