A Week With Chromecast and the Implications for Media

I’m at the beach this week and took along my Chromecast.  A few thoughts from the week:

  1. It works awesome.  A very seamless experience.  I used the new iOS app to set it up and it worked perfectly from the start. A great user experience which will enable it to go a very long way. Too many devices miss a seamless and quick out-of-the-box experience.
  2. Rethinking the home theater. Chromecast and future services and devices like it will cause us to rethink the traditional home theater. These devices and services will cause us to rethink the hardware systems we use and the way in which we use them. Chromecast essentially opens up a window for streaming through HDMI port. The house we are currently staying in has a traditional dedicated home theater room with an overhead projector. While we can connect the Chromecast to the HDMI port in the back of the projector we weren’t able to support streaming the accompanying audio because that was run through the separate receiver. In all of this, I think Chromecast-like services and ultimately Chromecast-like functionality will cause us to rethink what we do – or want to do – with different hardware configurations.  The role of dedicated home theater rooms will start to evolve as will other viewing areas.  What we watch and where we watch – all has the potential to change.
  3. Local content is key.  To what extent Google will allow local content to be cast remains uncertain. But streaming local content is ultimately key in the traction Chromecast and competing services will garner. Several friends staying with us this week – and being exposed to Chromecast for the first time – remarked Chromecast addressed a problem they were previously trying to solve with long cables.  In almost all of these instances they are looking to stream/cast local content. This is especially true as more screens become Internet-enabled directly.  CEA data shows roughly 30% of LCD TVs being sold YTD are Internet-enabled – up from 23% last year during the same time period. If the TV or other “screened” device are already connected to the Internet the story is less about trying to deliver mainstream media and more about delivering local content like photos or videos.  As an aside – Google casting a tab from within the Chrome browser also worked seamlessly.
  4. Shifting media purchases. In the short-term, Chromecast has the ability to shift media buying channels. When looking to rent something not available on Netflix, I might typically turn to Amazon Instant Video or some other service. But Amazon Instant Video doesn’t currently stream through Chromecast so we found ourselves turning to Google Play instead.  The ability to cast Google Play videos through the YouTube app worked seamlessly.  I’d presume Amazon Instant Video support will come eventually. More importantly will be Ultraviolet support through apps like Vudu – allowing users to stream their growing digital libraries.