TiVo Launchpad Aggregates Web Video

Dave Zatz —  February 13, 2013 — 35 Comments

tivo-launchpad5

TiVo Premiere customers have begun receiving a new Web Video Launchpad app that aggregates online content from the likes of CNET, the White House, and countless others. The rich app, possibly powered by Flingo, looks to be a significant improvement over their antiquated Podcaster app and prior web video attempts. Beyond Launchpad’s collection of video, a beta Fling feature allows you to queue up web video you stumble upon while web browsing for later television viewing – although I’m not yet sure how or where this is populated and wonder if an updated TiVo “What to Watch” smartphone/tablet app could come into play. As with recent app additions and updates, to ensure they’re not missed, TiVo continues to sully our Now Playing My Shows index with the TiVo Launchpad line item.

35 responses to TiVo Launchpad Aggregates Web Video

  1. This may be enough to get me to post something on GL again. ;-) This is LONG overdue, and it is a major improvement. Even better, the list of providers is MUCH larger than it used to be. This is a BIG overhaul.

  2. Hmm, after playing with it some more my excitement is slightly dampened. The old interface is still there too. The old interface is still used for subscribing to content that will auto-download to the NPL. The new interface is only for finding content and playing it immediately. There doesn’t appear to be any way to subscribe to a feed and have it auto-download, even for content that you can do that with in the old interface – like CNET.

    I’d really like to see them merge the old functionality into the new interface. Maybe they can’t offer the auto-download for all content, and that’s fine, but I’d like to see a ‘Subscribe’ option offered for any content with a feed that supports it.

  3. To further dampen your excitement, one of our peers on the TCF had 15 second video advertisements run pre-roll.

    Regarding stream versus download functionality, I’m pretty sure I have other devices in my house using Flingo. Will check it out later and see if the function the same.

  4. I tested the Fling Queue – and it was a little creepy that it just worked. I went to http://www.flingo.org/ and dragged the ‘Fling’ button to my bookmarks bar in Chrome. Then I went to Crunchyroll.com and used it on a video – and it showed up in my Fling Queue on my TiVo.

    Note I didn’t configure anything, anywhere.

    That made me curious – looks like they use the public IP. The TiVo hits Flingo’s servers, then your browser does – and if the IPs match it goes in your queue: http://www.flingo.org/developers.html#how_it_works

    I need to read their docs in more detail, but it looks like it is limited to devices on the same network. So if you’re at work and see a video you can’t add it to your queue to watch when you get home.

  5. Interesting… Good to see you @MegaZone! We missed you… we were speculating that you were embargoed from telling us anything you saw in the TiVo booth at CES! ;-)

    I haven’t had a chance to play with the LaunchPad other than watching a few videos this morning. It sure is aesthetically pleasing.. I like the trademark. I’m a fan of the auto-download of web videos from TWIT.TV but I’ve been told by others that many of the auto-downloads stopped working in the old interface.

    This FlingQueue is an idea that I would like to see implemented for Netflix and other streaming services as well… an integrated queue that shows up for later viewing at my leisure is on my wishlist.

    I was surprised that a “Technology” category wasn’t present but I suppose I can live with “Science”.

  6. Some good research there, MZ. One of the forum theories was that it was all tied to Facebook Connect or something. Hm.

    Regarding flinging, as I’ve said before and as my FiOS DVR and Rokus do, TiVo’s smartphone apps need to allow me to fling photos from phone to television.

  7. I was pleased to see that that LaunchPad appeared on the bottom of my My Shows list. Unfortunately, my first attempt resulted in the dreaded v301 error.

    I’ve been getting this almost daily when I try to use Netflix. I have to either reboot my TiVo or go to netflix.com and deactivate all my devices forcing me to sign back in. I figured Netflix didn’t believe all the devices I have were really mine.

    Speaking of reboot. I know I’m getting old but I can’t find a reboot option anymore on my new Premiere boxes. All I see is Standby. Am I missing something or is unplugging required by everyone?

  8. Look under help…

    TiVo Central > Settings & Messages > Help > Restart or Reset System > Restart the TiVo DVR

    http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/370

  9. Yeah, reboot was moved. I’m always looking in the wrong place too. Maybe if the settings were upgraded to the HDUI, it’d be easier to find. ;)

    Bill, I hear TiVo hardware is very sensitive to DNS-related stuff. Can you switch it up on your router to Google or another provide to see if your networking situation improved? Also check out this port support note and I wonder if you’ve got a firewall in play:

    http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/402/kw/ports

  10. Is the Showtime app full Showtime on Demand or is it just trailers and highlights? Also is it fully integrated into search yet? I know a lot of times like when they launched Hulu the integration comes later.

  11. @Brennok,

    Ha! Full On Demand Content. Man, you’re a funny guy.

    @All,

    You don’t “fling” something at a “launchpad”. You “crawl” towards a launchpad. I believe the NASA crawler/transporter moves at about two miles an hour.

    So the right term should be crawl. You’d have a “Crawl Queue” and you’d be able to “crawl a photo from your phone to your TV”.

    Sounds about right for TV. Fling sounds much too energetic.

  12. Just used Fling Queue with Vimeo and it works perfectly. Pretty cool stuff

  13. I guess I’m the only one: I still thought it was too slow.

    Roku and Apple seem to do this kind of stuff with ease.

    TiVo churns away trying to load up a list of content.

    And to think that it was only a year or two back that the TiVo CEO had an interview where he was telling us that TiVo was going to be the hub of our entertainment, regardless of where it came from.

  14. Just so we’re clear, it appears “Jenna” posted her Flingo success story from within the Flingo office. We’d have preferred he/she had confirmed the business arrangement or discussed the technology at play over a sketchy testimonial. Although, as far as astroturfing goes, this is pretty damn mild and easily identified. Thanks, I guess.

    Also, fyi, late yesterday TiVo posted a support note on Launchpad:
    http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2537

    The only things we learned (or confirmed) is that it’s powered by Flingo, does not work with universal search, and cannot be restricted via Parental Controls.

  15. I too got a Vimeo video to play from the Fling Queue, but nothing else seems to work, it’s either Content Unavailable or Lost Network connection.

  16. I also got some ads – (hey, if you’re gunna show ads, at least make them reasonably entertaining/interesting like YouTube ads. I can actually sit through those without immediately clicking the “skip” button)

    History channel didn’t show at all – just a constantly revolving “wait” circle. Others like Gigaom, A&E, UFO, etc were slow and jerky. Revision 3 played pretty good…. but what do I need this for?? I already have subscriptions to the podcasts i want. And, between Roku and Playon, I can get everything else.

    BUT, I do heartily applaud Tivo for trying. My cord-cutting goal is to have Tivo (for OTA) and Roku (for web-related) as my “go-to’s”, so anything Tivo does to move this closer to a full cord-cutting solution deserves credit.

  17. “I too got a Vimeo video to play from the Fling Queue, but nothing else seems to work, it’s either Content Unavailable or Lost Network connection.”

    It works perfectly if you try it from inside the Flingo office. The way to solve your issue is to just pack and move to the Fingo office. I’m sure Jenna will put you up.

    (Of course, like any sensible person, I get YouTube, Vimeo, and other web video to my lean-back teevee by downloading the videos into my Plex Media Server. But I do genuinely understand that isn’t relevant to the TiVo input 1 discussion we’re having here…)

  18. TiVo’s support note does indicate some listings won’t play… which is just odd.

    Some content that requires you to sign in to the web site may not play even though the Web Video Launchpad application displays it in the queue. You will receive a message stating “Content is currently not available.”

  19. So after reading this, I tried it last night. Results are both good and bad.

    Good – This was something TiVo should have been doing for years, now. It finally puts some web video content in easy reach.

    Bad – SLOW SLOW SLOW. Why does my atom-based years-old Dell Mini navigate the same RSS-feed based listings with so much more speed (and it can’t handle the resolutions the TiVo can)?

    Good – Video quality of Revision3 content was HD like I wanted.

    Bad – Watching a 30 second advertisement that wasn’t even properly sized for my screen. If the ad is how they make the service available, then fine…but at least have the notification appear when it can be read, instead of a half cut-off text scroll in 12 point font on the bottom of the screen.

    Good – Decent selection of content.

    Bad – Very incomplete selection for those providers and poor navigation controls.

    …tl,dr version: It’s a nice addition, but is somewhat hampered. At first you get excited at the possibilities, then the cold splash of water that are its limitations hits you. The Wii U coupled with Plex remains my best web video sharing solution, currently.

  20. Reading everyone’s comments, it sounds like something I want to try too. Wait. No it doesn’t.

    I came home last night to find my wife listening to – horror of horrors – Pandora on the Tivo. I mentioned that “Tivo ha Spotify now, you know!”, so I showed her where it was at and how to use it.

    After 60 excruciating seconds trying to navigate through THREE playlists, I reluctantly took her back to Pandora. :^(

    Is it just me, or does it seem that folks at Tivo don’t realize that it IS possible to have a snappy interface? Is it their developers? The hardware? I don’t get it. In today’s world, their interface(s) are simply archaic and unusable. In 1988 we woulda been doing back flips. Now, my kids 1st-gen DS does circles around the TiVo.

  21. From TiVo’s Developers Documentation here –> http://developer.tivo.com/docs/read/sdk/guide

    The TiVo platform does not meet Adobe’s minimum recommended specs for AIR for TV.

    During “normal” operation, (e.g. watching Live TV), the processor is burdened with background activities such as, recording broadcast video, calculating the recording schedule from program guide data, and downloading and processing TiVo service data.

    The Premiere (series 4) hardware is long overdue for a refresh. IMHO, TiVo made a big mistake when they decided to keep the same Broadcom processor in the Elite/XL4/P4. It appears the performance on the Mini should be much better based on the CES coverage.

    With that said, I think the performance of the HDUI is now tolerable. I have yet to find another DVR that I like better than my TiVo. I do supplement my TiVo with multiple Roku boxes and now and Apple TV.

  22. Wow, Sam – that’s pretty disheartening. They decided on, or upgraded to, a framework that the platform can’t handle? Well, guess now we know. Wonder what’s powering the TiVo Mini and whatever the next rev of boxes will bring.

  23. Agree Dave…. Its what prompted me to open up my Premiere Elite and void the warranty the week after I purchased the box. Enabling the 2nd core on the Broadcom CPU helped significantly but the current specs of the “neutron” platform (another code name revealed in the developer documentation) are not even close to the current generation Roku and Apple TV. I’m guessing that the decision to maintain the same processor on the Elite was driven by a business decision associated with their MSO partners. The higher end chip probably drove the cost of the Premiere-Q to an unacceptable level.

  24. So “neutron” is the current hardware I am guessing?

    Hopefully if the MSOs get the Pace 6 tuner box, they actually opt for once on a better chip for retail assuming we ever see more than a 4 tuner.

    TiVo always seems to opt for the lowest chip possible. This would probably be fine if they were constantly refreshing the hardware so every year it was a new chip, but since they don’t they really need to plan for their product life cycle. I wonder if TiVo planned to run the Premiere for 3+ years. I know on one of the calls they mentioned more frequent hardware refreshes which we never really saw.

    Of course more frequent models means less time to potentially recoup costs. I forget what their current turnaround is on a monthly or lifetime subscriber.

  25. So “neutron” is the current hardware I am guessing?

    Correct. My speculation not tied to anything other than the Mini performance boost shown at CES is that the Mini has a faster chip and perhaps is a new hardware baseline. I will probably tear open a Mini if the price is right once its available at retail (end of March?).

    I know on one of the calls they mentioned more frequent hardware refreshes which we never really saw.

    I don’t recall that mentioned. Its clear that TiVo wants to get out of the hardware business for the most part. Based on what I’ve seen of the Pace X1 platform, I’m confident its a much faster chip inside the box. Unfortunately, Pace will probably remain MSO-only.

    Of course more frequent models means less time to potentially recoup costs. I forget what their current turnaround is on a monthly or lifetime subscriber.

    I think the break-even on the newer boxes is around two years although its probably lower on the boxes like the XL4 and the upcoming Mini which are likely not subsidized from a retail cost perspective.

    From a Barclays December analyst report,

    The company’s reported ARPU and SAC were $8.79 and $171, respectively, which implies a breakeven period of about 19 months. We note that the average over the last three quarters is about $238 which in turn would imply a breakeven period of 27 months at $8.79. However, this breakeven period is likely too low as the reported SAC number only includes sales and marketing expenses specific to hardware and does not include R&D. If we were to include 75% of sales and marketing not specific to hardware, the SAC would be about $370
    and imply a breakeven period of about 42 months, which suggest a lifetime profit of approximately $258 per Tivo owned subscriber.

  26. “I know on one of the calls they mentioned more frequent hardware refreshes which we never really saw.

    I don’t recall that mentioned. Its clear that TiVo wants to get out of the hardware business for the most part. Based on what I’ve seen of the Pace X1 platform, I’m confident its a much faster chip inside the box. Unfortunately, Pace will probably remain MSO-only.”

    I believe it was shortly after Premiere launch. IIRC Tom said to the effect they had constantly heard from their customers they wanted to see more refreshes and more often and with the Premiere they would attempt to do that. I believe there was a thread on TCF about it or mentioned in one of the call threads. I know it was discussed that the Premiere probably was intended to be a new platform rather than just a model.

    With 19 month breakeven it probably isn’t possible since I would imagine they would want a 12-13 month breakeven if they were to do new hardware every 24 months. Even then they would probably need a 2 year contract for it to make sense.

  27. Thank you to Sam and Dave. I never would have looked under Help for an actionable item like restart.

    I recently convinced FIOS to send me an N router so I have had to do some configuring. The links you included were very useful. Everything works ok and then out of the blue I’ll have a problem or a v301 error from Netflix. I still need to play around because TiVo also sent me a MoCA adapter with my XL4 but I haven’t gotten it to work consistently.

    I am happy to say I was able to run LaunchPad. The Flingo people will be pleased that my one complaint is I have to scroll way down to the bottom to access it. Then I realized like Netflix it’s duplicated on the Find TV, Movies, & Videos menu. Duplication is annoying
    Would be nice to have TiVo LaunchPad added to the YouTube share list.
    “Back” on the menu annoys me. I haven’t tested due to the delay but I assume the back arrow will bring me back.
    The option to use my Chrome bookmark bar on their web page is unacceptable.

    I agree this is another indication that TiVo doesn’t want to be in the hardware business. Even better it seems like TiVo may realize there is more to their business model than program guide subscriptions.

    Bill

  28. BillP there is a hidden setting page that might be causing problems for you on the VZ router. I think the latest firmware page was supposed to fix it though. I can’t remember what settings were hidden, but they have a discussion about it on dslreports in the Verizon forum with a link to the page on your router. I believe it was causing problems for IOS and airplay users.

  29. Hm, interesting Brennok, Bill. I may need to look for that router setting/page as YouTube on my phone doesn’t stream so well on WiFi at home and occasionally seems to hang on other stuff (but is blazing on LTE). FYI I have a 802.11n VZ modem/router as well and have never seen the v301 error. Bill, do you have another router in between your devices and the Verizon unit?

  30. “Hm, interesting Brennok, Bill. I may need to look for that router setting/page as YouTube on my phone doesn’t stream so well on WiFi at home and occasionally seems to hang on other stuff (but is blazing on LTE).”

    If you didn’t have a FIOS DVR for their slim pickins of VOD, I’d advise you to just get a nice cheap ‘n’ reliable gigabyte router, and hook up it up to the ethernet port on the ONT. The Actiontec isn’t the absolute worst router in the world, but I’ve been quite happy to have freed myself from it. Lots of minor unavailable options, and lots of minor weirdnesses with the Actiontec; it basically works, but life is too short when there are cheap better options.

    But you do have a FIOS DVR for their slim pickins of VOD, so never mind.

    (However, for other TiVo users with FIOS and no need for MoCA…)

  31. That raises an interesting question… Does Verizon’s live TV FiOS iPad app require the Actiontec in play? Hm. And I’ve had relatively good luck with three over the years and we’re basically doing MoCA instead of Ethernet throughout the house. One of routers I managed to swipe and still need to replace the firmware to make it into a MoCA/Ethernet bridge in my blog cavern.

  32. “we’re basically doing MoCA instead of Ethernet throughout the house”

    We’re an urban, single teevee household, so I’ve never been attracted to MoCA for my own use-case scenario.

    But the thing is, I’ve never understood it for MRV households either. Assuming you’ve got or may want second input boxes on your other teevees, you need to get ‘em ethernet too. And unless there is some kind of cheap ‘n’ tiny MoCA -> Ethernet passive bridge with passthru MoCA that you deploy at all the teevees, well, what does MoCA get you? But it’s not my own use-case scenario, so I’m likely missing easy explanations. But from my distanced view, I fully understand why MSO’s like deploying MoCA, but I don’t understand why educated consumers don’t use wired ethernet or 5ghz access points instead.

    “And I’ve had relatively good luck with three (Actiontecs) over the years”

    Yeah. They do work. But there are multiple minor details that have me quite happy to have ditched it, since I had the option.

  33. “They decided on, or upgraded to, a framework that the platform can’t handle? Well, guess now we know.”

    This is news? I mean, haven’t we all understood that the S4′s hardware’s isn’t up the S4′s software since launch?

    It’s certainly why I never bothered upgrading, even though I’d like a few of its features. (Everyone wants apps in S5, but I just want an adequate chipset to run the DVR UI.)

    (That reminds me. Since I guess I’m just going to skip S4 completely, and since the HBO/FIOS CCI byte change keeps me from offloading my precious HBO series and mini-series for future viewings, I guess I’m going to have to bother with opening up my TiVo HD to upgrade the platter drive to 2TB before the NBA playoffs start. I’d been putting off bothering since I figured my TiVo HD wasn’t going to stick around for long, but I guess I’ve reconsidered. Damn HBO for going ahead with the CCI byte change before they had HBO Go up to a watchable level for the lean-back.)

  34. This is the page I was talking about http://forums.verizon.com/t5/FiOS-Internet/DLNA-Not-working-on-MI424WR-Rev-I-IOS-4-19-36-Petition/m-p/516791#M33909

    The biggest problems with the early Actiontec routers were tiny Nat tables. As a result P2P and online gaming would crash the router. There is also the fact they still don’t do UPNP correctly in my experience.

    @Chucky I use MoCa at my mother’s house because her wall that has the TV has no easy access to do a drop. FiOS already provides MoCa so it was cheaper to pickup two MoCa adapters for her two TVs rather than paying someone a couple hundred to do the drops.

  35. This is news? I mean, haven’t we all understood that the S4′s hardware’s isn’t up the S4′s software since launch?

    Yeah, I’d say many of us have been disappointed in the performance. Although it’s surely better now than at launch. And when you consider number of clicks compared to the cableco DVR, it’s pretty efficient outside of apps. But it wasn’t clear where the issues originated and to see them so plainly notated that the hardware they chose doesn’t meet the requirements of the software they chose is kind of depressing.

    But the thing is, I’ve never understood it for MRV households either. Assuming you’ve got or may want second input boxes on your other teevees, you need to get ‘em ethernet too.

    My Premiere Elite/XL4 has MoCA built in – so both the cable content and Internet travel over the coax. Same with the FiOS DVR. And the majority of my end points are wireless, so not an issue there. Once I get around to hacking the extra Actiontec, I’ll have four Ethernet jacks in my blog lab. (The only imminent new run I might fish is coax to the kitchen for possibly a FiOS VMS client or TiVo Mini. Most of my neighbors with interest choose the runs, jacks, etc, but we bought the house after it’d been built and didn’t have that opportunity. If we had, we’d have Ethernet jacks in every room.)

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