General

CES was surprisingly subdued for cord-cutting

Last year’s CES was a surprisingly fruitful event for cord-cutting. At the tech industry’s biggest trade show, companies like Tablo and Mohu announced radical new uses for over-the-air antennas, while bigger companies including Amazon and Roku made their own splashy announcements.

The story was different at CES 2018. Several of those companies didn’t show up at the trade show at all, while others only brought vague promises of future products with nothing to demo. Although this year’s CES wasn’t totally bereft of news and product launches, it wasn’t the showcase for novel cord-cutting solutions that last year’s show appeared to be.

I’ll have more to say about what we did see at CES soon. In the meantime, here’s a rundown of the companies that skipped the show after a strong showing in 2017, and where they stand today:

The absentees

Over-the-air DVR company Tablo had a major presence at last year’s CES, announcing DVR software for Android TV devices, a cheap networked antenna tuner, and a cloud-based DVR service. But of those three products, only one of them—the Android TV-based Tablo Engine software—launched in 2017. That might explain why Tablo skipped the show this year.

“We’re heads down on multiple projects from apps to hardware, but nothing that we can announce at CES, unfortunately,” a Tablo spokeswoman said via email.

tablolive Jared Newman / TechHive

Tablo’s Live Stick networked tuner was revealed a year ago, but hasn’t launched yet.

Antenna maker Mohu was also a no-show this year, after announcing an ambitious networked antenna tuner called the AirWave in 2017. (That product was delayed several times throughout the year, and quietly launched in October to dismal customer reviews.)

A Mohu spokeswoman did say the company has “a slew of new products” coming in 2018. “In explanation of our absence this year, our team has been busy perfecting this latest lineup of antennas in order to get them into consumers’ (and reviewers’) hands faster,” she said.

Perhaps the highest-profile absence was Dish Network, whose streaming service Sling TV used to occupy a prime booth spot in the cavernous Las Vegas Convention Center. In 2017, Dish used that space to showcase AirTV, a new sub-brand tasked with producing streaming hardware for cord-cutters. But its first product, the AirTV Player, was rushed to market without the features the company demoed at the show.