Cox VOD Services Headed To TiVo Premiere

Dave Zatz —  August 12, 2010 — 18 Comments

tivo-premiere-cox-vod

If you needed additional proof that retail tru2way is dead, look no further than the TiVo and Cox Communication announcement to bring Cox Video on Demand services to TiVo Premiere hardware. Unlike RCN’s on demand solution, Cox will ultimately link TiVo Premiere units acquired from them through upcoming cross promotional marketing OR units purchased via any retailer like Best Buy. Also, unlike RCN’s TiVo Premiere solution, joint TiVo-Cox customers will not have to give up Amazon VOD and Netflix streaming in order to access the cable provider’s on demand library. Score! Testing will begin this year, although it sounds like a full deployment to all Cox markets may not happen until 2011.

In discussing the plan with TiVo yesterday, I asked if this announcement implies that TiVo-Cox hardware plans (similar to the failed Comcast-Motorola-TiVo initiative) have been scrapped. Their response:

TiVo and Cox determined the quickest way to offer TiVo’s user experience and feature set while integrating Cox services such as VOD to all Cox markets would be to go down this path.

As for me, I’m a frequently frustrated Cox customer. Despite the glowing report they’ve submitted to the FCC, Cox has yet to prove that they can successfully implement and support their Cisco SDV tuning adapters (ZNF, TCF). Additionally, TiVoToGo and multi-room viewing are dead to me given Cox’s restrictive CCI Byte content restrictions. While compelling, I’m not sure access to their entire On Demand catalog is enough to prevent me from defecting to Verizon’s FiOS TV when we move later this year. Guess it’ll depend on timing… when will this service and TiVo’s modernized whole-home solution hit?

And, for some inside baseball news… TiVo has swapped PR firms – replacing Ruder Finn with Bite Communications. I figured the investors who track TiVo’s every move might want to know.

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18 responses to Cox VOD Services Headed To TiVo Premiere

  1. Wow! Now that’s the stuff.

    Retail TiVo’s getting access to VOD. Your own box gets to hook in.

    All the RCN-style deals had me worried about TiVo balkanization issues, as well as not being appealing to me at all as a consumer. If I wanted a cableco box, I wouldn’t have a TiVo in the first place.

    I like having my gear separate from my provider. I wish the government would let us do that with mobile as well.

    Dare we hope FIOS gets on the TiVo VOD train? Nah. That ain’t the way VZ rolls.

    (I continue to bet the longshot proposition that we won’t see a VZW iPhone this winter. I know there’s a CDMA iPhone coming, but that doesn’t mean VZW is a done deal. There are other CDMA carriers on the planet. I still can’t see either VZW or Apple blinking on issues of control. They both want to own the customer relationship, and they can’t both do that simultaneously. Perhaps the dollars are getting big enough for someone to blink, but I won’t believe it until I see it.)

    —–

    And how ’bout some blogging on Netflix doubling down on Starz Play with the $1B Epix deal? Netflix is certainly heading down the Hulu Plus path on picture quality…

  2. Eh, it’s a business and content deal rather than a new service or gadget – which is normally what motivates to write. I’m happy for more newer releases, but not sure there’s much else I can offer on the topic. However, I did tweet out Engadget’s link/coverage the other day – so many thousands of folks did see the news.

  3. “it’s a business and content deal rather than a new service or gadget – which is normally what motivates to write.”

    Noted. It’s just a drag to see Netflix’ business plan carrying them off in a low-res direction.

    (Tangentially, I’ve developed a Pavlovian hatred of Starz through Netflix streaming. I keep having the experience of seeing a streaming title in the Netflix library, getting excited, investigating, seeing the “Starz Play” logo, and going “Ugh…”. Someday, I’m going to end up picking through a menu of pay-cable channel options, and irrationally canceling Starz for no other reason than the fact that I’m getting behaviorally trained to hate their brand.)

    —–

    “If you needed additional proof that retail tru2way is dead…”

    Metaphysically, how can something that never was going to exist be dead? Back in high school, my girlfriend and I had sex while always using condoms. It wouldn’t be correct to say that our never-to-be children are dead, now would it?

  4. True, but I’ve seen a number tru2way retail device prototypes at events like CES and The Cable Show from the likes of Panasonic and DISH/EchoStar. So maybe “aborted” is preferable term over “dead” in this case.

  5. Dave – how are the pushing the VOD content through? If they can do it for Cox it seems like they could do it for anyone, correct (obviously with separate agreements with each provider)? Also, has anyone at TiVo ever given any insight into the CCI byte restriction issue?

  6. I was told a portion of the solution involves communication over IP, and I believe Engadget or someone said it’s part of the same SeaChange VOD technology utilized in RCN’s solution. More than just an agreement, TiVo would need technological collaboration and integration with a cable provider’s infrastructure to make it happen.

  7. Aww, and I just switched from Cox to FiOS. That’s OK though, I think I’ll stay with FiOS – the picture quality is so much better than Cox. I’ve got a FiOS dvr, and an S3 Tivo for a total of 4 tuners. It’s not a bad setup.

  8. Is VOD from provider really a big deal? I guess, since I have VOD on a bunch of other devices (360, PS3, Vudu, etc.), I’d only care about the free offerings. Which, much to my delight, I learned do exist and even in HD (noticed that Pillars of the Earth is available in HD on Uverse).

    Anyway, I really, really, really think cloud-based DVR are a bigger deal if that’s ever going to happen. Only need a small set-top box (or even built-in the TV) and can “record” unlimited number of programs simultaneously, etc.

  9. Very, very interesting.

    As far as how this works, its easy enough. The VOD content shows up on a “channel” (a program within a 6HMz band that used to be an analog channel and now might contain 10 SD or 2.5 HD channels). The Tivo simply needs a way to browse the VOD catalog via IP, tell the headend to start streaming the asset, and find out what “channel” to tune to in order to display the asset. Would be interesting whether it simply records the channel and uses Tivo’s tricks (which wouldn’t allow you to fast-forward past where you’d received) or whether they invoke the VOD fast-forward/rewind stuff and how well that works, as well as what the on-screen stuff looks like while this is happening. And yes, other providers like Comcast or Time Warner COULD do something like this, they just aren’t so far. But the stuff they’re doing playing around with iPad control/delivery probably uses some of the same infrastructure so it might help someday.

    As far as Verizon, their VOD is delivered over IP rather than as a QAM channel. So that’s a bit of a different problem. The particular issue there is that its probably IP over Coax using MoCA and Tivo doesn’t support that, so you’d have to at least use an external MoCA to Ethernet bridge.

  10. Ivan, pure PPV is not super interesting. However, they allude to their entire on demand library of content being available. THAT would be compelling. Perfect for catch up TV in our household and something the in-laws appreciate because there’s always tons of children’s programming available without any pre-planning.

  11. “As far as Verizon, their VOD is delivered over IP rather than as a QAM channel.”

    I did not know that.

  12. Ananth T Sarathy August 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    How does that effect the planned roll out of the multiroom box? I don’t see how this is better unless you can stream. (Obviously aside from the TIVO interface).

  13. Ananth, I don’t think it’ll impact it at all. This may just be an experiment and side revenue stream. Whereas that new UI is a larger investment and differentiator which could end up running on all their (Cisco) hardware. Then again if this is a smashing success, who knows where it could go. Assuming they can implement reliable tuning adapters.

  14. “As far as Verizon, their VOD is delivered over IP rather than as a QAM channel. So that’s a bit of a different problem. The particular issue there is that its probably IP over Coax using MoCA and Tivo doesn’t support that, so you’d have to at least use an external MoCA to Ethernet bridge.”

    When FIOS paid me a not insubstantial amount of money for the privilege of bringing fibre to my home, there was one part of the installation I found confusing.

    I had read the current tivocommunity forums prior to the installation, and I knew that, at the time, TiVo and FIOS were still working around how to deal with pixelation issues with the “hot” FIOS signal for some folks. So I had the installers bring signal attenuators, and since I had no need for MoCA, I had them disable MoCA. That confused the hell out of the installers, who had never heard of such a request before. I had to show them that there was an ethernet port on the ONT, (labelled “Ethernet”), and that they just needed to wire it to the ethernet port on the router.

    What confused the hell out of me was why FIOS was delivering the IP signal to the router via MoCA in their standard installation in the first place. First, I found it ironic that the “last-mile fibre” company wanted to wire the last six feet via coax. And second, I couldn’t understand how it was to their advantage to use MoCA instead of ethernet, given that it had to involve at least a trivial additional cost for them.

    But now that I know that the FIOS DVR’s are getting their VOD via IP instad of QAM, it finally all makes sense. Fibre is cool.

  15. Ananth T Sarathy August 16, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Yeah, thanks for the response. Now, when is Cox going to roll that puppy out. I want mrv soon. I am so sick of the stupid problems with Tivo and external HDD….

  16. Chucky,

    Glad I could help. You postings on the rumored Apple TV were informative for me as well. Part of the reason they’ve got bandwidth left on their QAM channel map and don’t have to do stupid shit (yet) like SDV.

    Looking very much forward to an early user report on how this works–the install process, the experience, etc. I hope this is the beginning of something big.

  17. “Part of the reason they’ve got bandwidth left on their QAM channel map and don’t have to do stupid shit (yet) like SDV.”

    No doubt. That’s precisely why fibre-to-the-home is so cool, no? You’ve got guaranteed bandwidth to deliver in any form you choose…

  18. any update on this? has it been rolled out anywhere?

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