Boxee TV

Our portfolio company Boxee announced their next generation device today called Boxee TV.

Boxee has always been about making it as easy as possible to watch TV over the Internet and Boxee TV represents years of listening to customers wants, needs, and desires. The result is a trifecta of Internet TV goodness:

1) Free Broadcast Channels in HD

2) No Limits DVR – record as much as you want and watch wherever you want

3) Internet apps like Netflix, Vudu, YouTube & Vimeo

Avner's post on Boxee TV has more details.

Boxee TV will cost $99 and will be available in early November. Sign up to get an email when it launches.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Just saw this.Best news of the day besides the availability of Eric Asimov’s new book on wine:…I was an early enthusiast for Boxee and my use faded. Apple TV just worked for my needs even with its issues.Going to buy the new box and give it a shot in my living room. Their interface has always been the best!

    1. fredwilson

      the no limits DVR is the big thing here Arnold. to start its just the broadcast channels but i think they’ll get the extended tier of cable channels on board at some limits DVR means you can DVR as much as you want and watch it on whatever devices (TV, laptop, tablet, phone) you want, wherever you want

      1. markslater

        that sounds conceptually awesome

        1. fredwilson

          It is and it will be even better with the extended tier of cable on it

          1. Rocky Agrawal

            what do you mean by “extended tier”. are you referring to the really high up channels like bloomberg and smithsonian? or more mainstream channels like comedy central and tnt?

          2. fredwilson

            The mainstream channels like ESPN

      2. John Revay

        I recently listened to a TV comerical (maybe DirectTV) – they were poking fun at Cable Co DVRs unable to record B/C they were maxed out and had to delete some content

        1. CJ

          Yeah, they offer a 1TB DVR now with 4 tuners. Hard to argue with that.

      3. Rocky Agrawal

        Hmm… this implies that they’re licensing the content instead of transmitting recording from the box. That’s a much better way to do it.So they’re paying the carriage fees to the networks?

        1. fredwilson

          They are not licensing any content

      4. Richard

        What are the demographics of the boxee users. No one I know under 35 watches TV (and i finally joined them!) or would even dream about paying for cable, never mind a second service.Β Can you post the relevant part of the boxee research on this?

    2. ShanaC

      stupid wine question: is eric asimov related to Isaac Asimov of I Robot fame?

      1. awaldstein

        don’t know shana.great wine writer though.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Nephew. LMGTFY…

          1. Techman

            Do you like the Bing search engine? There is a Bing lmgtfy. It’s pretty awesome for those who love Bing.

          2. JimHirshfield

            I haven’t binged in a while. Thanks for the tip tho.

  2. kirklove

    This is headed in the right direction. Very happy for team Boxee. Congrats.

  3. ErikSchwartz

    The HD broadcast channels are OTA or streaming?

    1. fredwilson

      OTA into the box. then if you DVR them, they are streaming.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        So presumably Boxee just DVR’s everything in a market once (which is why they are rolling out to limited markets) and then when the consumer “DVR’s” something they are just saving a pointer to the boxee recording? So if the legal issues got figured out you wouldn’t need the OTA antenna at all (and Boxee would be competing with Aereo). The OTA antenna is just a verification system.If I set up a boxee account at my house in Maine can I watch Pats games in the house in Palo Alto?

        1. Rocky Agrawal

          Unless they’ve obtained licenses, they would have to record it from your box and send it to the cloud. That seems like it would either a) saturate your internet connection or b) require really high compression degrading video quality.As a consumer, you’d also being paying for bandwidth both ways. (In the sense that both recording and streaming would count against any data caps you have.)

          1. Avner Ronen

            You’ll be surprised by the quality of the video we can support. Re bandwidth caps. It is obviously a concern, but thankfully it has an impact on many other (and bigger) companies such as Google, Apple, Netflix, etc.I actually think broadband providers will love this box.

          2. Rocky Agrawal

            How quickly can you make a review unit available? I’m in the process of doing a big piece on future of TV.

          3. tkr

            It is NOT the same issue as Google, Apple, and Netflix. You have to upload your content. They only have to download theirs.

        2. fredwilson


  4. William Mougayar

    Storing recordings In the cloud is pretty smart. Are the first ones to come out with that?

    1. deancollins


      1. William Mougayar

        OK. 2nd question…When is it coming to Canada? And if I buy it in the US and bring it to Canada, I can use it pretty much without the TV channels linkage, right?

        1. Techman

          I wouldn’t know for sure. That is something that you have to take up with Boxee and/or your government.

  5. Barry Nolan

    These guys really punch well above their weight

    1. fredwilson

      They’ve had to

  6. gorbachev

    How does this thing work, if you don’t want the $15 / month DVR option? No time shifting?

    1. fredwilson

      No time shifting. But TiVo and your cable company charge similarly for a local device specific DVR

  7. JimHirshfield

    But this news…Cable Operators Can Fight Theft by Encrypting Signals, FCC Rules…sux because I get my “over-the-air” channels over the cable…free.…I think you blogged about this issue last year.

    1. fredwilson

      The cable industry and boxee reached an acceptable compromise on this issue which will allow Boxee to work with encrypted cable. I want to thank everyone here at AVC who weighed in on that issue. The little guy can fight and win against the incumbents when they have the consumer on their side

      1. JimHirshfield

        Encrypted over the air? Or encrypted coming out of the coax for free?

  8. takingpitches

    The box is half the price of our monthly cable bill.Anything to help cut the cord and discipline the incumbents is welcome and needed.Boxee future should include a Skype partnership and white space broadband and then it will really start peeling off the customers from the incumbent telcos and MSOs. This is a massive opportunity.

  9. RichardF

    Absolutely love the idea of DVR to the cloud. Like to know how are they doing this? are they storing one copy of a programme and then streaming this to anyone who has dvr’d it. Or are they storing a copy per subscriber who has dvr’d it?

    1. deancollins

      cablevision store 1 per user to get around copyright issues…..expect similar with the boxee solution.

      1. RichardF

        thanks Dean

  10. Guest

    This is awesome. Congrats to Avner and the Boxee team.Moving forward — video content is increasingly becoming king online. YouTube is going as far as creating its own channels. In the TV landscape, the HBOs, AMCs, and Showtimes are creating the best stuff and they know it. Hopefully Boxee can access this content as well and subsequently drive viewership. Secondly, providers like Verizon Fios and ATT U-Verse are already offering more than 2 “tuners” — for example ATT U-Verse lets you record 4 shows at the same time.Providers are increasing their pace of innovation in the face of consumer demand. Hopefully Boxee can continue to innovate as well and compete and thrive against these larger incumbents.

  11. jason wright

    Roxee Soxee Boxee

    1. fredwilson


  12. Morgan Linton

    I’ve been a Boxee fan for years and have been waiting for them to make this leap, absolutely love it and definitely want to be one of the first to have the new box. I bought it at $199 so absolutely will buy one (or two) at $99 πŸ™‚

  13. CatherineW

    I love this. We have Boxee and the HD antenna and it is great. We cut the cord a while ago and between our Boxee and our blu ray players we have all we could want on our TVs. However, I have two questions/comments for Boxee. One, for those of us current Boxee users who spent a lot more than $99 for the original devices, it feels a bit like we are left with an inferior product that we paid more for – and it was this year that we got it. Second, we also have “basic cable” (network TV) from our cable provider that we pay $10 a month to have. I would get rid of it BUT our internet bill would actually go up. We may still get and use the new Boxee device for the DVR capability, but it’s a pricing tactic that Boxee should be aware the cable companies are taking.

    1. Avner Ronen

      Well the good new is that the Boxee TV device supports basic cable, so will be able to plug the cable from the wall directly to Boxee and watch the available channels.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Will Boxee TV work with encrypted “over-the-air” station line-up that I currently get on the coaxial cable, for free?

      2. tkr

        Yeah, I am sure the cable companies will be really happy to help you get access to their encrypted content so that you can siphon off their DVR revenues. You might want to call Tivo and ask them how that worked out. Or did you completely miss the Cable Card ‘era’?I know you think this will be great now, but scorpions can’t help doing what they do.Do you really think that cable companies are going to help you take subscription fees from customers who are already paying for cable? Why wouldn’t they just keep the money for themselves?At best you get a shot to sell them your hardware. At worst you are just a pawn in their negotiations with content providers to get more streaming rights to just cut you out of the picture.There is no possible scenario where you subtly squeeze in between the content providers, the cable companies, and the consumer electronics giants and build a successful company.

        1. fredwilson

          stay tuned. i think you’ll be surprised about what the cable companies will do.

          1. tkr

            I doubt it.I’d say let’s bet on it, but since you already have, that doesn’t seem very sporting.And I do respect that. Sincerely. I don’t agree with your (e)valuation on this, but you’ve voted with your wallet and I respect you for being in the game and off the sidelines.That said, this is going in the claim chowder file for reconsideration. Let’s say, 12 months after launch?–tkr

          2. fredwilson

            I will win or lose on my bet when I win or lose on it. The timeline is what it is

  14. Nick Grossman

    I am so excited about this. Can’t wait for it to ship.

  15. Matt A. Myers

    Would love to have one to try it out. I’d worry about my bandwidth bill though.

  16. deancollins

    Interesting to see this announced along with the FCC decision that cable tv providers no longer need to carry unencrypted cable (guess those washington lobbying efforts paid off),One point of note the FCC announcements indicated that cable providers only need to offer this for free for 2 years and then will be allowed to charge for this from then on, does Boxee have any information about what these costs will be from the cable providers to make BoxeeTV work?Also curious about “storage in the cloud” does Boxee expect any patent challenges around this? eg if we purchase this device what happens when an injunction strikes down the cloud portion functionality or have Boxee ‘pre-licensed” around this issue?

    1. fredwilson

      Dean – Boxes negotiated a compromise with the cable industry with the help of the FCC. The announcement yesterday was vague but I can assure you that our collective lobbying efforts did pay off big time

      1. Austin Clements

        do other services have access to similar terms? or was this compromise Boxee specific? They seem to be more interested in compromising since that Aereo injunction was denied.Congrats to Boxee on the new launch. Don’t know all the details but this sounds like a pretty decent viewing option.

        1. fredwilson

          i do not think any part of the compromise was Boxee specific. Boxee was just pushing for fair treatment of all new innovators in the connected device space

      2. Rocky Agrawal

        So there is some new functionality that is equivalent to CableCard without all of the ridiculous provisioning hassles? (it literally took a month last time, with escalation to Comcast executives) If so, that’s a really big deal.

  17. Kirsten Lambertsen

    My husband just swooned. Signing up…

    1. deancollins

      Kirsten….you’d get better quality signal from a FTA antenna…..Cable providers are always reducing quality on the fta signals (and most of their channels) to manage bandwidth.

      1. Techman

        That’s sad. I’d rather have quality > quantity. It’s sad now that satellite companies have actually reduced their HD signal, so you are not really getting full 1080p.

  18. kenberger

    Uncanny timing- I was literally this second about to buy this:…(USB stick for Mac/PC, DVR software, accepts antenna or unscrambled cable)I wish the newer Google TV products (Vizio and Sony) would accept coax in to manage live tv, but they only accomodate hdmi in (so you’d need a set top box or kludgy converter).I’m a die-hard Boxee fan and hate to say this, but that new subscription model seems poised to make this stillborn. That recurring price wants to be free. Hopefully Boxee TV offers some major differentiator in the service making it worth that ongoing charge compared to the above, and other, alternatives.

    1. panterosa,

      I was considering the elgato as well, after firing Time Warner Cable.

    2. fredwilson

      Stay tuned

      1. kenberger

        “Tuned”– I get it! It’s a TV tuner! I tells ya there’s a career for you in comedy if this venture thing doesn’t work out!

        1. fredwilson

          I thought I was in the comedy businessIf you aren’t laughing, you are crying

          1. kenberger

            and both lines of work are all about I quoted you and your Schtick Tolerance post, last night during a very tense discussion (read: defense) with the wife. It helped a lot.

          2. fredwilson

            Glad I could help. Those are tricky moments

          3. kenberger

            given my personality, and (it seems) yours, they are frequent broadcasts indeed.

          4. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Profound, Fred!Nicely put. I like the style of our local (and nowadays pretty successful – well, acknowledged – internationally) poet, Simon Armitage, re: laughter and pathos. Very Yorkshire…http://www.whitehavennews.c…PS, ‘Gig’ is a great read, by the way.PPS, from day 1 have loved Boxee’s design/packaging/branding. Very cool.

          5. fredwilson

            “The turnout was woundingly low.”

          6. Carl Rahn Griffith

            He has a beautiful way with words – recommend you read some of his stuff. Ironically, he even did a (very good) TV documentary on our obsession with upgrades/gadgets a few years ago. Here’s a clip……Not your typical poet.He still lives locally. It’s hard to escape Yorkshire πŸ˜‰

    3. LE

      I have one of the elgato devices from when they were released. That could have been 4 to 6 years ago. Even that v1 device worked really well. I never found a use for it it’s sitting with the other impulse buys.

  19. John Revay

    “The result is a trifecta of Internet TV goodness”This is a great line,I once recall reading a @Bijan tweet a few months ago (I think you had just sold him on trying and buying the Nexus 7) – his Tweet was something to the effect of that fredwilson was really a product guy….

    1. panterosa,

      I was “outed” as a gadgetress by my sister in law. I’m out and I’m proud!

    2. fredwilson

      I’ve learned to be a bit of everything. I am a jack of all trades master of none

  20. Rocky Agrawal

    Won’t two simultaneous recordings saturate most home upstream links?

    1. fredwilson

      There some nifty technology at work here

      1. mikenolan99

        Can you elaborate? Looking for a solution like this, but have limited bandwidth – especially upstream.

    2. LE

      I would imagine you could buffer locally on a HD and upload over time to reduce bandwidth in addition to compression.

  21. Pete Griffiths

    This looks very cool. There is no doubt that high quality software is the key to unlocking the living room.

  22. Adam

    Any chance it will get Amazon VOD or Hulu soon? I ask because I don’t think there’s enough content on broadcast TV to justify a DVR bill. The only distinction between this and my Roku that i bought over 3 years ago is that it has a DVR option but that costs $15/month. Broadcast TV doesn’t really offer a ton of programming that I want to watch, maybe a few shows and some sports, and most of that I watch live. I’m in Seattle so maybe that’s different in larger markets like NYC.

    1. fredwilson

      Boxee TV is not right for everyone but something like 90 of the top 100 DVRd shows are on the broadcast channels

      1. Jerry Vandesic

        Even 10% could be too much to miss. It depends on how that 10% is distributed though. For me it wouldn’t work since half of my recordings are non-broadcast, so I would need another DVR just for those channels. To be honest, I would think that most people would have some channels they would want to record that are non-broadcast, and that would mean either giving up recording those channels or getting another DVR.

  23. D. Lambert

    I was really intrigued by this when I first heard about it, but I’m substantially less thrilled about the $15 / month bit. I’m still feeling twitchy about a recent attempt to roll my own DVR using a Ceton Cablecard tuner and Windows Media Center. The encryption and protection made this an absolute nightmare — I’m a paying customer, and I wasn’t able to watch the service I was buying for reasons that still aren’t especially clear to me or the guys at Ceton..If the new Boxee box helped me ditch cable, I’d be all over this. Right now, there isn’t a single “regular” TV show I wouldn’t be more than happy to watch a day (or more) later on one of the the apps Boxee supports, but until there’s a solution for sports (football, racing), it’s a tough sell to ditch cable altogether, and therein lies the problem: I just can’t see adding another monthly fee just so I can DVR *some* of the shows I’m interested in.Honestly, I see Boxee as part of the solution rather than part of the problem, though, so I’ll continue to root for them. After all, if I could order a Packers game or an F1 race without buying a monthly license to A&E, I’d be all over that, and if Boxee is part of creating that disruption, then count me among their fans.

  24. ShanaC

    I’m not sure how I feel about the boxtop idea. I’m dead in love with just attaching a computer at times, and then moving the computer with me, rather than a dedicated tvputer.(aka boxee beta) Most of my friends don’t even have cable and will just watch from a computer.Maybe this is a generational divide – but I rather just turn my phone into that device once it gets a bit more powerful.

  25. LE

    The “no limits” DVR (stored in the cloud) seems to be inviting legal issues with taking third party content which you don’t use on your own physical device ala betamax case. And in order to store in the cloud they must be using technology that doesn’t take the same bits and *duplicate* store them. So 2 or 1000 people recording the same show all have access to the same bits. I can’t see how it would make sense to allow people an unlimited amount of their own storage especially with no “governor” to the process. And if they are recording the shows that seems to be a problem as well.I’ll assume this has already been vetted by legal. The offsite part seems on the surface to be an issue unless you physically own the device that is offsite (which you don’t).

    1. tkr

      The law on this is increasingly in their favor, actually. Both Cablevision and Aereo have won cases relevant to this issue. Basically, the catch is that they can’t de-duplicate the data in the cloud, and everyone has to bring their own hardware.So they do have to duplicate everything in the cloud. I believe even Apple duplicates the music for iTunes Match.

      1. CJ

        Apple is the only company that has signed deals so they don’t have to duplicate, however Google and Amazon keep duplicated data in the cloud to be legal.

  26. Mike Archer

    I bought a Boxee Box when it was released and it has been my sole means of watching video on my television since then. I love it, even despite some of its quirks. In fact it is kind of on its last legs so I was super excited to see what Boxee was working on so I could replace my box with next gen hardware. I think the unlimited cloud storage is an amazing idea but I won’t be purchasing this particular device because it doesn’t have the features that attracted me to the original box (local streaming, insane file compatibility, etc). I know there will be lots of new people that are interested in the DVR functionality that weren’t interested in the original Boxee features so I am sure my decision, and the vocal decisions of those in the Boxee community not to buy won’t be a big deal. Actually I really hope the Boxee team is successful because I think the cable industry is ripe for a shakeup. I am wondering, however, why they didn’t choose to combine the ideas?Based on the comments on the announcement blog post (… and the forums (… a lot of current users are angry that Boxee has diverged so far from its original vision, that the product that some have bought very recently will be placed in maintenance mode a couple of weeks after purchase, and that the company is abandoning the customers that have been with them and supported them from the very beginning. I am just wondering why so much of the original functionality was dropped? From my admittedly uninformed viewpoint I don’t see anything about the new business model that couldn’t have been applied to the old Boxee functionality. In fact just the opposite, a DVR + Boxee Box would have placed it way in front of the Apple TVs, Rokus and WD Lives. Was the DVR going to be too difficult to add on top of the Boxee base code? Too expensive to build hardware and still meet a $99 price point?I realize it’s probably never going to happen at this point but I would happily spend $2-$300 for updated hardware with current Boxee box functionality + DVR. You get Hulu plus and Amazon Prime on there and you would be an honest to goodness complete cable replacement system.

    1. fredwilson

      You have to be sub $100 at this point to have a shot at a mass market product in the connected device space

      1. CJ

        That is the truth, otherwise Roku and AppleTV will eat your lunch.

  27. John Revay

    Had to click through post on to see what the new device looks like

  28. Gary

    Hooray! Yet another solution to the wrong problem!I still have a better user experience from The Pirate Bay than I do from every single TV-related startup. When are you going to work on that?

    1. fredwilson

      that solution involves changing laws and regulations. we are working on that for sure.

    2. kidmercury

      ouch, brutal diss! but alas, the truth does hurt……

    3. Techman

      Well piracy is not the answer either. That just makes matters worse in terms of TV rates and DRM and lawsuits, etc.

      1. Gary

        I absolutely agree that piracy isn’t the answer – I would dearly love to give my credit card to a service that competes with the Pirate Bay, but nothing comes even close.I disagree that it makes matters worse, though. If anything it demonstrates that the DRM and lawsuits don’t work, so the various entertainment companies should be looking at better methods for reaching those audiences. Whether they’re getting that message is another question entirely. πŸ™‚

        1. Techman

          Lawsuits and complains do work, but their success rate is very low. One thing that can still happen is the raising of TV rates, and eventually people won’t be able to afford. Sure, it’s a long shot, but right now we seem to be going down that path.

  29. Dan Sweet

    He is taking some serious heat in the comments on that announcement post. Do I see a guest post in his future on managing customer relationships?

    1. fredwilson

      Boxee has moved away from former products in order to focus on the products that they believe mainstream customers actually want. that was a tough call. the kind of call many founders can’t make. he can take the heat.

  30. Truls

    Oh, and it’s “exclusively for the US”. What a shocker…

    1. fredwilson

      it is almost impossible to do this globally. we have seen similar projects focused on other parts of the world.

  31. Carl Rahn Griffith

    What are people’s thoughts re: ChromeBox? Not spoken to anyone with hands-on experience of one, as yet. Intrigued by it.

  32. Liam Lowe

    Getting the impression Fred likes the fighters just as much as the home runs. I like that.

    1. fredwilson

      I like the fighters more

  33. Robert Holtz

    Bravo to Boxee for shedding that enormous box from the prior design. I looked at this category a few years ago and loved the Boxee UI but didn’t like the bulk of the box. I have an Apple TV in one room and a Roku in another. Still haven’t found my dream device here. Should I be throwing away the Roku for this, Fred?

    1. fredwilson

      It depends on whether you watch a lot of broadcast channels

  34. Gadge Brown

    I’m curious how Boxe and others get around the Tivo time warp patent.

  35. a guy

    any chance this has a web browser in it?

  36. CJ

    I’m disheartened to see their migration from a rather open ecosystem to a closed one. I understand it, it’s infinitely easier to monetize a walled garden than an open park but it always strikes me as backwards to migrate to there from the open approach.Almost as if they’re making you pay for less. *shrug*I use XBMC and Plex for the most part anyway but I thought Boxee was an intriguing solution. I can’t say I’m in the target audience for this one though. But then, reading about it, I think that’s the idea. People like me tend to be able to cobble something together for free rather than paying a monthly fee. I think the price is a bit too expensive though, it’s too close to Tivo and given the choice, most people will go with the known entity.*Edit – to add, I think I’d have liked to have seen a deal with Netflix and Hulu integrated into the price. I know you mention Tier 2 cable channels but I think there is a VERY significant opportunity to build a TV system AROUND cable. MLB offers an app, so does the NFL for Verizon at least. You start to build these things into a ‘offering’ and now your DVR solution turns into a full-fledged TV provider. Now it gets interesting.

  37. Techman

    Well this seems very useful. Finally a device (that I know of) that can pick up and record free (over the air?) broadcast channels. I have Dish in my house, but I watch all of the locals in HD if I can.

  38. fredwilson

    Vudu is awesome. it’s my favorite way to stream movies

  39. JimHirshfield

    So, you’re saying they should collect all their toys and just go home?

  40. fredwilson

    In your mind. But I am confident they do in plenty of others minds

  41. testtest

    interesting point.negative brand equity — if that’s the case — isn’t an insurmountable problem. there are others though

  42. fredwilson

    It is if you are the founder and have five years of your life invested in it

  43. testtest

    so what. sunk costs.adding another five, with a similar outcome, is worse

  44. tkr

    I agree, it must be tough for a founder to pull the plug.That’s what the VC is for.So far they’ve taken a popular piece of software with a loyal following and discontinued it in favor of a buggy piece of hardware that they are cancelling two years after launch, in both cases trailing a stream of angry, disenchanted users behind them.How can you possibly think Avner is going to get it right this time? The solution to people not waiting to pay for cable is to get them to pay for free TV? Am I really following that correctly? It’s more expensive than free TV, less functional than what the cable companies offer (or can offer with a snap of their fingers) for about the same price, and it comes from people who’ve turned every piece of software they ever built into a piece of shit?Oh, and they took 5 years to do it.Can I get on the Series Z round?

  45. Techman

    Fred, what do you exactly do when startups completely fail? What happens to all of the investments? I’m not a VC, so I don’t know.

  46. fredwilson

    this VC is a believer – in the company and most certainly in Avner. this VC will not pull the plug. you’ll have to find someone else to convince.