Bloomberg has the news that, starting tomorrow, Walmart will be offering D-Link’s new $99 Boxee TV exclusively. There’s a little bit of ambiguity in that word, “exclusively.” Does it mean that Boxee TV will only be available at Walmart, or that Walmart will sell Boxee TV only instead of the alternatives?
My guess, based on the evidence, is that, at the very least, Boxee’s distribution will be through Walmart alone, at least for a while, because as of right now, both Roku and Apple TV are available for store delivery through Walmart.com. And Boxee TV isn’t showing up on Amazon.
The biggest boon for Boxee TV is the planned promotion on Walmart’s part. This isn’t simply a distribution deal, according to the Bloomberg story:
Starting tomorrow, the world’s biggest retailer will exclusively sell the new $98 product, called Boxee TV, in more than 3,000 U.S. locations during the holiday season. Wal-Mart will set up displays and send out marketing materials for the device, a small black box with a remote control that can access free TV broadcast channels as well as Internet content.
“It’s going to be a big launch for us,” Avner Ronen, Boxee’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “There’s a big difference between having your product being carried by retailers, where it sits on the shelf, and getting real marketing behind it.”
The new Boxee TV, in addition to being a lot cheaper than its predecessor, boasts some pretty cool features — along with a few limitations. In addition to media streaming of all the usual suspects, like Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube (but no Amazon Instant Video… grr), it’s also capable of tapping into your cable TV subscription or over-the-air broadcasts via antenna. And if you live in one of the top 8 TV markets — New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, or D.C. — you’ll be able to activate No Limits DVR, which for $14.99 a month gives you unlimited DVR cloud storage and the ability to watch your recordings from just about any mobile device or computer. More markets should be added to the service in 2013, according to the announcement.