Boxee TV: Walmart Wants You to See It; Your Cable Provider Doesn't

BoxeeIn a major retailing coup, Boxee TV will be sold exclusively through thousands of Walmart (WMT) stores across the country.

Starting on Thursday, 3,000 stores will begin carrying Boxee TV.

The $98 device features a built-in antenna to grab free over-the-air broadcast TV. It also tethers to the Internet to stream YouTube, Netflix (NFLX), and Pandora (P). Naturally it also plays nice with Walmart's own Vudu pay-per-view video service.

There's Nothing Good on TV

There are perfectly good reasons why consumers who are happy with their cable or satellite television providers might consider buying the economically priced set-top box. They can take advantage of Boxee TV's seamless streaming of video apps, and use its access to broadcast channels during cable or satellite dish outages.

However, the clear market here is people who are ready to cut the cord. For the price of a single month's cable bill, a buyer can use Boxee TV to make the most of the monthly Internet connection that they're already paying for.

There are currently a little more than 100 million homes with pay TV accounts. Cable and satellite TV used to be growth industries, but the number of subscribers has been stagnant over the past two years as cost-conscious consumers cancel their costly programming bills.

Cutting the Cord Isn't Always Liberating

Pay TV will be a non-negotiable home expense for many. No ESPN? No AMC? No Comedy Central? Most people have channels beyond the local broadcast ones that they value. Will NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and PBS enough for them?

Maybe. As the Internet continues to crank out time-slurping eye candy, and more content providers reach out directly to consumer via streaming websites, the trend toward Web-savvy set-top boxes will accelerate.

Bloomberg reports that while D-Link's Boxee sold just 120,000 set-top devices last year, Roku cleared 1.4 million of its namesake units, and Apple (AAPL) moved 5.3 million Apple TV devices over the past four quarters.

Don't expect the cable and satellite television providers to go down without a fight. Television is a $150 billion industry, and the service providers aren't going to let upstarts promoting cord cutting destroy them.

However, the quality of set-top box solutions continues to improve with every incarnation. Time is also making more homes WiFi accessible.

Walmart is a great outlet for Boxee TV. Even if many of the retailer's low-income shoppers don't have Internet access at home, it's clearly a target audience that will be attracted to the notion of having one less chunky bill to tackle every month.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Netflix and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bear put ladder position in Netflix.

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Jeff Strailey

I bought one of these out of curiousity and put it through it's paces last night. Conclusion, it's useless device. Why do I need a Boxee tuner when my TV already has one that receives ATSC and Clear QAM. The DVR service is supposed to be up and running here in Los Angeles but the device says it isn't. The few apps it does have like Netflix are duplicated on myriad other boxes I already own. Next time I visit Walmart Boxee TV is going back.

November 05 2012 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bought the BOXEE yesterday from Galveston TX walmart, 35 or so miles from Houston. NOT 1, NOT ONE channel showed after running the scan 3 TIMES! I Used the "Antenna" they include inside the box as well as connected it to existing (and connected) comcast line that our Cable Modem is running from. DO NOT WASTE YOUR $100.00 ($98.16 + tax) I also said NO, as I always do, to the additional 2 year warrenty. Yet I found a mysterious charge of $14.77 with this as the discription; "TC 24/7" !

November 04 2012 at 8:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


November 03 2012 at 6:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

you can watch anything over the internet. If this box works as good as they say, i might buy it.

November 02 2012 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Honestly, Cable, dish companies are TV BULLIES!!! You are forced to pay for continuous reruns on multiple channels. You should be able to select what you watch. They are manipulators and constantly are over charging for what they actually provide. I had Direct TV, went from 34.00 a month, then they billed my CC 181.00 told me i was paying for the movie channels now that the special ran up. I requested NO specials. I was clear on my end what I wanted my bill to be every month. Why would anyone alllow 181.00 be billed for cable? Cable companies and their greed will be their KARMA!!

November 02 2012 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I cut off cable 3 years ago and have relied on over the air broadcasts ( 27 ) in nashville area,,all in didital,,.. dvd and hulu or PLAY-ON off my computer which programming was bought for $50 for life about 8 years ago.. would never switch back ...what for??

November 02 2012 at 6:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to stevendy1's comment

Good for you! That's a savings of around $3,400 for what we pay a month. I'm looking for alternatives to this way over-priced DirecTv system. Once our initial "welcome to the wonderful world of DirecTv" special pricing was over, our monthly bill increased by $60 - they restructured the pricing and decided that our package was the deluxe so the cost just skyrocketed! It's one of their scams that they have - you get good pricing for a year (what it's really worth) then the second year of the contract, they just gouge you to get their money back!

November 03 2012 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to uncommonsensesc's comment

My DTV bill jumped 10 dollars every other month and went to 90 +a month and I was on the lowest package. I am having it diconnected. They are all greedy bastards. They don't even warranty there equipment. you have to pay for insurance every month, and then when you need to use it, they make it a living hell to get the service call.

November 12 2012 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I never heard of Play-On. What is it exactly. I have been out of work for nearly 2 years and I am having my DTV disconnected in 9 days. Would love to hear about something I could use .

November 12 2012 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Once my subscription to satillite is up I am cuting them lose.The movie channels are nothing but reruns now, the network channels are reruns now. Even the rerun channels are getting boring. I spend more time on the computer now.

November 02 2012 at 3:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Many of the premium services would be wise to offer their programming over the internet for reasonable price. My cable bill has gone up each month so far!

November 02 2012 at 2:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to n45's comment

they would be smart to lower there price to a flat rate to get everything that they offer and make up the money in volume by having so many customers.

November 12 2012 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sure wish I could get rid of mine...and more...darn bills are crazy

November 02 2012 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

thats FOX News

November 02 2012 at 1:29 PM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply