Low price products offer large screen TV streaming options

30/07/13

Roku box and remote control

Watching online video on your TV used to require long cables and endless on-screen menus.

Now there are many options to watch streaming services like Netflix and LoveFilm on your large screen TV.

Google and Sky are the latest companies to launch low-priced products, fuelling competition.

But with games consoles and smart TVs offering alternatives, companies face a challenge to convince people to buy another box.

Chromecast is Google's latest attempt to compete in the TV market, which it has so far failed to crack.

The dongle-sized device is currently only available in the US, priced at $35 (£23).

Chromecast dongle
Image caption Google has so far struggled to break into the lucrative TV market

It allows users to stream video and music to their TV from Android phones and tablets, Apple iOS devices and computers.

Services including Netflix, YouTube and Google Play Movies and TV are also available.

Sky claims its competing product, the Now TV box is an "extremely affordable way to make every TV a 'smart TV'".

Priced at £9.95 in the UK, the device offers access to BBC iPlayer, Demand 5 and the company's own Sky News channel.

Sky is using the device as an introduction to its premium sports and movie channels.

When purchasing the Now TV box, customers are required to sign up for a free trial of Sky Movies or buy a Sky Sports day pass.

Now TV box
Image caption Sky is using its new Now TV box as a way to introduce customers to premium channels

While the low prices may be a selling point, both companies are taking on established players in a crowded marketplace.

Apple has sold more than 13 million Apple TV units, which give access to YouTube, Netflix and other services.

Using the AirPlay feature, the device also lets users to stream video from their iPhone or iPad to the TV.

Roku is another device which has proved a popular solution for streaming online video to the big screen TV.

The company, in which Sky has invested heavily, offers two streaming boxes for sale in the UK.

The products allow access to Netflix, Vevo, Now TV as well as music streaming service Spotify and others.

Roku box and remote control
Image caption Roku is one of the many options for streaming online video to your TV

Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk all offer catch up and on demand TV services as part of their packages.

YouView boxes provide a way to catch up on digital terrestrial channels as well as watching live TV.

And many TVs are now internet-enabled allowing access to Netflix, YouTube and other online video.

With so much choice, companies will be forced to find new ways to tempt customers to buy their product, which could mean lower prices still.

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