Comcast On Demand TiVo Integration Weeks Away

Dave Zatz —  February 24, 2012 — 26 Comments

Comcast-TiVo

Comcast’s long standing relationship with TiVo is nearly ready to bear fruit in the form of On Demand integration. Joint customers of the companies will receive Xfinity On Demand access via retail TiVo Premiere DVR hardware. During TiVo’s quarterly call, CEO Tom Rogers indicated field trials are underway and that public deployment to the San Francisco Bay Area “is weeks not months away.”

This collaboration looks quite different than their initial partnership, which resulted in TiVo software running on Motorola hardware to be marketed and deployed by Comcast. Unfortunately, the product wasn’t well received and was never deployed further than New England. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again? Rogers:

We started down one path and from a technical point of view completed it successfully, and they had difficulty rolling it out from an operational point of view. But we got back together and said, what would be a way that gets a product out that does not have those kind of operational difficulties

Indeed, the new solution is operationally distinct and something Rogers characterizes as a “hybrid” approach… As Comcast will be marketing and installing TiVo DVR hardware procured by customers through retail channels such as Best Buy. Additionally, existing TiVo Premiere units in lit up Comcast regions will receive access to Xfinity On Demand. On Demand will include both freely available content, as licensed by Comcast, and pay per view — all accessed in a dedicated Xfinity area (displayed below) and also available through TiVo’s universal search functionality. And, due to studio release windows, Comcast will actually offer new movies ahead of say Amazon’s competing VOD solution.

TiVo-Comcast-Xfinity-On-Demand

Technically, elements of of TiVo Xfinity On Demand communication are handled via an “IP back channel” — and presumably routed over the Internet versus Comcast’s dedicated video link. Incidentally, or perhaps ironically, this is exactly the sort of two-way solution TiVo and other Consumer Electronics manufacturers have proposed to further open up cable networks to retail hardware… without requiring a business relationship of this nature. Regardless, TiVo owners with Comcast service are about to receive a significant upgrade – starting in San Francisco and expanding to additional markets later this year.

26 responses to Comcast On Demand TiVo Integration Weeks Away

  1. The big question in my mind is will this be enough of a reason for someone to go out and pay the up-front cost for a retail TiVo? I’m guessing that with the right marketing it could mean a slight bump up in retail subscribers but its clearly a big unknown.

  2. The Comcast marketing will be good visibility for TiVo. Will it covert and how to directly quantify will be difficult. But it’s a very positive development for folks in a Comcast service area who own TiVo. With this On Demand, I’d take Comcast over say Verizon. I’d also take this solution over DirecTV’s neutered TiVo solution.

  3. This is great news for current Comcast/TiVo households. Though I’m not sure how many it would convert.

  4. What’s in it for Comcast? Advertising/Marketing and professional instillation. I wonder what Comcast is getting in return.

  5. Jack, the first thing Comcast is getting is a pass on TiVo DVR patent enforcement. Beyond that, from the call yesterday, here’s what Roger’s said:

    meets the needs of what they have, which is to begin to get over the top content and their full high investment and VOD and in front of their subscribers with an advanced interface and a transition to advanced television that also helps them with their goal of not absorbing CapEx costs where they can avoid it

    I assume the nature of the relationship can and will continue to evolve as we’ve seen. But, yeah, the biggest benefit is to TiVo and their customers versus Comcast’s marginal increase in PPV revenue? But it would keep someone like me from jumping to FiOS (or encourage me to jump back) in neighborhoods where they overlap.

    Interestingly, a similar solution was announced with Cox in 2010… yet TiVo hasn’t mentioned them in the last two quarterly calls and I suspect this deal could be dead.

  6. Jack, in my house they would get added exposure, and the possibility of some PPV money. Right now we have two TiVo Premier units and nothing that will tune Xfinity On Demand.

  7. Given the miscule base of Tivo Premieres, the fact that many of the are NOT on comcast, I’d say Comcast might generate less than a million in revenue on this. In a good year.

  8. A million in, beats $200 million out – isn’t that what AT&T is paying? ;) Then again integration and marketing expenses may not be trivial. And I’d say the direct revenue would be far, far less than a cool mil. But this is more about customer happiness, retention, acquisition (in addition to the patent stuff) than PPV commission for Comcast.

  9. Does anyone know if this IP back channel connection will be utilized for SDV tuning as well, eliminating the need for a Tuning Adapter?

    Also, I saw this article a few days ago: http://www.fierceonlinevideo.com/story/msos-pick-clearplay-demand-video-subs-tivo-roku/2012-02-21

    It seems even small MSOs are getting in on the VOD-on-TiVo game. Strange this didn’t get more attention. Not even a press release from TiVo.

  10. Dave,
    I hesitate to ask this, but does it still require a tuning adapter? I say thing b/c with an IP backchannel they could have integrated the functionality. Then again, that might be too wishful of thinking.

  11. carroca, TiVo did put out a press release years ago with SeaChange – who powers many cable providers on demand solutions. But I’d say the differences between mapping a channel to push live TV to versus streaming an on demand video are technically quite different — basically, I don’t see this IP backchannel stuff replacing the need for a tuning adapter in switched digital homes. Certainly not simply or any time soon. Regarding the article you linked, I’m not sure if those guys are just reselling TiVo… or if they’re reselling TiVo that actually integrates their On Demand. I’ll get an inquiry into TiVo.

    Josh, like VOD on the RCN TiVo, this will not require a tuning adapter (and Comcast hasn’t rolled out SDV anywhere).

  12. Dave,
    I didn’t know they hadn’t used SDV anywhere. I guess I did know that they have pretty much dropped analog right? Guess that provides plenty of spectrum availability. Well I guess for myself I was hoping for an indication about the Cox method, if it every comes to fruition. After Comcast announced I figured it would go to them first, and Cox would take the lessons learned from it for cheaper/easier production. Time will tell. For now I have fios, but I do miss some things from Cox and would like to have another option that doesn’t require the TA (In the past I have had no problems with it, but I just don’t like more boxes).

  13. I believe they also announced during the earnings call that they will be releasing the slingbox-type device that they unveiled at CES. Dave, have you heard anything more about that?

  14. Josh, Charter is renting TiVo Premiere hardware and I believe they utilize SDV – so that might give us some indication of how it’d play out on Cox. But I do think Cox is dead.

    Mamul, yeah I’ve got two more posts based on the call that I hope to get to in the next day or so. The transcoder you mention is one of them and the IP-STB is the other.

  15. I’m still confused why I should care.

    What’s on On Demand that I don’t record?

    Do I REALLY need to see reruns of Gilligan’s Island THAT bad?

    I’ve looked into Comcast’s On Demand a number of times — junk and PPV movies, WHO CARES!

  16. This would be great for off-loading all the kid’s programming we have queued up. Not to mention catching up on previous episodes if we missed some.

    So Comcast doesn’t use SDV? I’m on FiOS now in NVA but Comcast is also available. Verizon just upped my rate so this would be another reason for me to take a look at Comcast’s offering.

  17. dean-l, For many, On Demand is quite compelling.And for some of them On Demand = DVR. For example, I didn’t get interested in Showtime’s Homeland until half way through the season (meaning I had no DVR-ed recordings) and was able to catch up via FiOS’s on demand. Further, my in-laws have an unlimited selection of children’s programming available for my niece and nephew. Also, I imagine new release movies will get some traction – I could see myself buying on occasion.

  18. With OnDemand coming to retail TiVo Premier units, will Xfinity Apps start to work as well?
    Currently being a Comcast customer at home on your WiFi isn’t good enough – you have to have a Comcast tuner as well.
    Removing that silly restriction would be awesome as well in my TiVo only home.

  19. But I do think Cox is dead.

    Cox is still an active project. Its been confirmed by Cox and by TiVo. See this thread for more info –> http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,26683431?r=344

  20. So in my house with Comcast, one Tivo Premiere, and one Tivo 3 HD…I’ll get OnDemand. Now when I go do Comcast.com and try to watch shows on a non Tivo (Comcast adapter) tv that are “OnDemand”, it tells me because I don’t have a qualified box in my house…no go. So in the future…I’ll be able to watch OnDemand? Right?

    Bad enough that with that TV (with a Roku box) gets screwed by HBO/Comcast with no HBOGO. Let my Roku box get the HBOGO channel..and a Comcast Ondemand channel. Am I asking too much? It is attached to a computer via HDMI.

  21. I hope someday verizon fios will have on demand available on our tivo premieres!

  22. Any idea if this means that the Xfinity Streampix service will be available on Tivo Premiere when this rolls out?

  23. This is great news for those of us with Comcast & Tivo–is it real? When will it happen?
    It makes a difference b/c, for example, when I don’t realize the new season of Downton Abbey has started for weeks–& for some reason Tivo didn’t record–I won’t have to spend 3+ dollars per show to see it. Yay!
    And since I was considering dropping Comcast, won’t have to now. Comcast got this right–finally–competition was looming!

  24. In addition to what was already mentioned here, its good for subscribers of premium channels. HBO and Showtime have quite a decent catalog of movies that I would love to watch.

  25. Any hint on whether or not Comcast internet is required? I have a Premier with Comcast, but internet with Centurylink, due to Centurylink’s superior speed. I’d hate to give up that speed just for VOD functionality.

  26. Currently I live in Boston and have RCN and they provide you with an actual TIVO Premiere Box as part of their package. I am moving next week to an area were RCN is not available and I will be forced to use Comcast…. I hate , hate comcast TV guide and DVR menus……I don’t understand why RCN can provide a Tivo box but Comcats does not and instead they download tivo software to motorola boxes… i hear there are tons of problems with this set up… I hope Comcats gets with the program or that RCN starts providing service outside of Boston… quincy hint hint..

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