Comcast & TiVo Hit Pause

Dave Zatz —  July 22, 2013 — 16 Comments

tivo-xfinity

Perhaps the biggest drawback to TiVo ownership is the inability to access our cable provider’s On Demand services. Yet TiVo and Comcast attempted to rectify the situation to their mutual benefit by bringing Xfinity On Demand to Premiere hardware, as a followup to their initial (and not very good) set-top collaboration. However, after leisurely rolling out the service to 21 markets, the companies have hit the pause button. According to Comcast’s Ted Hodgins:

We work with TiVo to jointly determine which markets are scheduled to get the TiVo with XFINITY On Demand as the best return on our joint investment. [...] Unfortunately, we currently don’t have plans for any additional markets this year while both Comcast and TiVo evaluate the performance and results of the current markets where this added feature has been made available.

(Thanks Sam!)

16 responses to Comcast & TiVo Hit Pause

  1. We have this on our units in Michigan and I have to say it’s great. The interface isn’t much to look at, and just browsing can be a little of a pain. However, if you are searching for something and it’s on ON Demand it will show in the results.

    It’s just too bad we’ll be moving from Comcast to Charter at the end of the month.

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much bang for the buck here (other than Comcast avoiding TiVo patent litigation). And possibly why the announced Cox On Demand service never launched on TiVo.

  3. RCN in Chicago has it but my Comcast service never came through. Too bad.

  4. Ha, just checked and they have this service here in Indiana. Will need to play around with it tonight.

  5. The last time TiVo was asked about the Comcast roll-out was in their Q4 conference call on Feb 26, 2013.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/1227491-tivo-management-discusses-q4-2013-results-earnings-call-transcript

    Question: I was wondering if you could update us on where you are on the Comcast rollout. They’ve been expanding their support for the box bought at retail, to comment on how that’s impacting your retail business.

    Tom Rogers, TiVo CEO: Comcast continues to roll us out to markets so that the retail product integrated with their XFINITY product is available to more and more of their subbases. We do see the Comcast markets generally outperforming in terms of retail sales, our general retail number, so the fact that it is the only offering that you can get linear plus VOD plus Netflix, Hulu, et cetera, the uniqueness of that, we do believe, is resounding. And it’s something we continue to talk to Comcast about is how we can strengthen it as an alternative in their overall mix.

    I’m wondering if they are considering alternative IP streaming technology going forward now that Comcast has expanded the availability of their TV Everywhere product and TiVo is about to launch its first IPTV product with Com Hem in Sweden.

  6. Michael Burstin July 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Hope the pick it back up again. I do like the ability to get OnDemand stuff on my Tivo box (I’m in Boston and it certainly is much nicer than the failed ComcasTivo). I don’t use it all that much – mostly in cases where shows run long or have local schedule change, etc, but it is really a nice addition to Tivo and vastly superior to the crappy Comcast Moto box (though still have not seen their X1 platform).

  7. I’m guessing nobody is going to invest in this model anymore now that cableco IP apps are starting to take off. Makes more sense honestly to push for a unified platform/OS so that msos can push apps out once to multiple hardware types – tvs, consoles, media streamers, etc. Cablecard is sadly an unwieldy stopgap between now and a time when everything is IP.

    The big issue is who’s going to control the platform/OS. Right now, Comcast is making big moves with its rdk…

  8. I’ve used the Xfinity OnDemand product a few times to catch up on Game of Thrones right before the last season. It was pretty decent for HBO content. However, I don’t like having unskppable ads placed on my Tivo when I watch broadcast content OnDemand. Tivo’s universal search came in handy sometimes when I was trying to find content across OnDemand and Hulu, though.. Xfinity OnDemand seemed to kinda balance out the content that Hulu didn’t and vice versa. Alas, It won’t matter anymore though because I’m switching to Verizon Fios this week. I got tired of my Roku 3 being blocked from HBO Go.

  9. I just hope the future of TV doesn’t mean 1000 apps and a different UI per channel. It seems though to be where we are heading and people are willing to accept it because it is better than nothing.

    I don’t want any part of that future unless I can have a UI of my choosing aggregate all the content and handle playback in a single UI.

  10. We have it here in SFO and I have to say I don’t use it very much. It has the same crappy interface as the Comcast VOD of course, with the same “I wonder which blue pill my show is hiding under” (its kinda like navigating a phone tree) which discourages me from using it. And of course it fails with some frequency, though almost always at launch.

    That said, it IS useful, and I HAVE used it occasionally. I use Xfinity access on the Web and HBO Go access on the Apple TV more than I use this feature though.

    Like others I’m more concerned about what this means going forward. We need to be moving towards the Comcast Gateway STB with IP in home distribution to arbitrary home entertainment STB (including TiVo) that was hinted at by the Boxee TV dongle agreement, and may be mandated by the FCC within the next year or so. I guess we’ll see what happens…

  11. The problem with On-Demand, at least on their normal boxes, what the incredible lack of organization and slowness overall. It’s way faster to just use an Apple TV or a Roku and go through Netflix or Hulu than it is a normal cable box. I don’t expect TiVo boxes to be any faster.

    All that being said. This is one of those dumb pie-in-the-sky things like when TiVo and Comcast announced that they were going to put TiVo on the Motorola boxes.. What happened? At best it was a Motorola box re-skinned with TiVo graphics and that was it. The crappy slow interface and all of the limitations were still there. They sold it as, “You’ll get TiVo on our boxes!!” and the reality was, “You’ll get the TiVo logo on some of our boxes!!!” and nothing else.

    It seems like it would be good for business to accommodate the TiVo users. Sure, you’re not renting them a box but, if you do it right, you still have happy customers paying you each month and no capital investment in a box – the customer has already ponied up.

    No. It must remain as closed a system as possible. Any attempts to open it up with a different device must be met with daggers armed and inconvenience abundant.

    That’s just the way it is. I don’t expect it’ll ever change.

  12. Multichannel indicates that the initial markets negotiated by TiVo and Comcast have been covered, so this seems like a natural break point. Mari and Sam are probably on the right track… instead of reworking the SeaChange stuff and whatever else on a headend-by-headend basis, it makes more sense to deploy a Hulu- or Netflix-esque TiVo Xfinity app that receives video over the Internet – as Comcast does on the Xbox or via iPad app. Even if it requires the development of custom front-end, as Mari alluded to, a common IPTV backend to serve all Comcast customers is way more efficient and cost effective. Should the companies decide to expand or modify the initiative.

  13. I actually use it fairly often to watch the HD version of something I tivoed the SD version of. Though I sometimes record on my other non TiVo recorder to skip the ads.. Though on some programs, after a few days, there are BARELY any ads at all.

  14. Comcast would most likely rather steer customers to the X1 platform. I take it they’re focusing their efforts there rather than get VOD to work natively with TiVo in all markets.

  15. Michael Burstin July 23, 2013 at 8:06 am

    The thing about why I like OnDemand vs. AppleTV/Netflix/Hulu, etc is that I am already a Comcast subscriber and don’t want to subscribe to yet another service. In addition, I think that quality is better with OnDemand vs. streaming, plus doesn’t take away from my current download speed and doesn’t use any of my monthly quota (not that I ever come even close).

  16. Michael, you bring up an interesting point… and Comcast has said something like Xfinity content is delivered via “private” Internet/LAN to Xbox. Sounds similar to how Verizon manages or divvies up their fiber lines. So it may not touch your quota or slow down your other household ‘net connections. But I imagine for efficiency the content would indeed be compressed further. Then again, they could also potentially use more efficient codecs.

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