Is this an indication that all these streaming apps will be available in Tesla models in the future?

A variety of entertainment options could be headed to Tesla’s in-car entertainment system after a hacker discovered assets within the automaker’s operating system. These assets were identified as several new streaming apps, including HBO, Twitch, Comedy Central, and even Chinese video hosting service YouKu.

Though no confirmation has been given on Tesla’s plans for these assets, their existence within the company’s operating system suggests that Tesla is considering adding these services in some future version of its software, provided that it has secured agreements with the companies that own these streaming services.

There will still be restrictions to accessing these applications, at least for now

In the event that Tesla starts offering these streaming apps in its models, don’t expect to get access to these apps anytime you want.

At the moment, Tesla still does not allow video streaming while the car is on the road. It’s part of the company’s directives to Tesla drivers to keep their eyes on the road, even if the Autopilot system is activated. Netflix and YouTube are two recent additions to Tesla’s software version 10.0 update and you can only play these apps when the car is stopped.

It is interesting, though, that Tesla’s taking steps to roll out these streaming apps this early. Perhaps the automaker is putting pressure on itself to develop its Autopilot system to the point where cars can drive themselves safely without drivers having to pay attention to the road. In that scenario, these streaming apps would make for great companions, especially during long commutes or in times of on-road distress like heavy traffic.

Further along, Tesla can also leverage the availability of these streaming services when it starts rolling out its autonomous-driving robotics fleet as part of the Tesla Network.

Tesla is serious about the Chinese market

While HBO, Twitch, Comedy Central, and Crunchyroll were the most noticed streaming apps in the leak, a few notable files were also discovered, including iQiyi, Youko, and Tencent.

What do these apps have in common? They’re all streaming services and providers that are based in China.

Granted, we already know that Tesla has a huge presence in China, most notably its Gigafactory in Shanghai where the standard-range version of the Model 3 is built. But the presence of these China-focused streaming services in Tesla’s operating system hints that the automaker could start offering these services in its entertainment center, specifically for Tesla models that will be sold in China.

2018 Tesla Model 3 Exterior
- image 801510
The made-in-China Tesla Model 3s are expected to hit the road in January 2020.

Tesla will have its own sets of challenges dealing with the Chinese market, especially with local rivals Nio and Xpeng Motors already in the electric car segment. Tesla, though, is expected to immediately become a threat to these local automakers, and if it starts offering these Chinese-facing streaming services as part of its in-car entertainment system, it’s going to be difficult for customers to eschew the automaker in favor of the local brands. Regardless, Tesla wants to make bank in China, and while these streaming services are small plays in a bigger scheme, they’re no less important in trying to convince customers to buy MIC Model 3s instead of other models from other automakers.

There’s still enough time to add more streaming services

This discovery is intriguing in so far as it provides hints on what Tesla’s cooking up with its in-car entertainment system. In addition to its growing library of video games, the recent additions of Netflix and YouTube in the entertainment system are a sign that Tesla’s building its library on the front, too. Now that the leak has identified HBO, Comedy Central, and Crunchyroll as possible future additions to the entertainment system, expect Tesla fans to start clamouring for the addition of other heavy-hitting streaming services.

If Tesla wants to build up its entertainment system with some of the more famous streaming services, it should find a way to include Disney+, ESPN+, Apple Music, Plex, and Amazon Prime Video to its entertainment system.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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