New Android-based set-top box combines broadcast TV and online video

Israel-based video startup Vidmind is getting ready to unveil the second generation of its Android-based set-top box at IBC this week, and the device comes with a twist: Vidmind is selling its box to generation of internet-centric TV operators, offering them a combination of broadcast over-the-air TV and online streaming.

[company]Vidmind[/company]’s first major customer is Russia’s TVzor, a new TV operator that was launched by the local consumer electronics retailer [company]Trellas[/company] this summer. TVzor offers its customers a combination of over-the air TV that can be received with an antenna, channels that are streamed over the internet and video on demand. Vidmid’s set-top box combines all of these sources in a unified interface, and subscribers don’t really notice a difference between content coming to them through the antenna and through the internet, explained Vidmind CEO Danny Peled during an interview.

vidmind 2TVzor soft-launched its service in August, coinciding with a $30 million investment of Trellas in Vidmind. Trellas now plans to market TVZor in its 3200 stores when the new hardware becomes available in October. Peled explained that local laws favor the Russsian operator, allowing the company to legally stream broadcast channels to consumers that can’t receive them with an antenna.

The legal situation is very different in the U.S., where the U.S. Supreme Court recently shut down the TV streaming startup Aereo, but Peled believes that a new breed of operators could nonetheless benefit from a combination of online and over-the-air broadcast content.

That’s why Vidmind plans to also build a version of its set-top box capable of receiving U.S. broadcast TV, which could be used by used by operators looking to launch a new generation of TV services. “You are watching on average less than 10 channels,” Peled said, adding that combining a handful of broadcast channels with online services and VOD would be enough for many consumers.