Xfinity On Demand Coming To All Modern Comcast TiVos

Dave Zatz —  February 27, 2014 — 27 Comments

xfinity-tivo

There wasn’t a whole lot of interesting news out of TiVo’s quarterly call for retail customers. Despite the holiday shopping season, bolstered by multimillion dollar radio and airport advertising campaigns in select markets, TiVo only managed to net 6,000 additional retail subscribers — keeping the count at 2004 levels. Having said that, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers indicates the company “saw gross additions increase at a meaningfully higher rate” in areas where they did advertise along with “continued outperformance of Comcast markets from a retail point of view” … perhaps due to Xfinity On Demand availability in numerous regions. Indeed, after a several month hiatus Comcast and TiVo resumed their roll out in December and have now declared:

We are also pleased that Comcast has committed to expanding our successful integration of Xfinity On Demand to their entire footprint. This integration on the Roamio and Premiere platforms has been an important one for us, as the robust Xfinity library, along-side traditional TV channels and web content delivers a one-stop shop for home entertainment. Market-by-market rollouts are occurring now, with full scale deployment in all U.S. markets — including Chicago, Atlanta and Houston – expected to be complete by June 30, 2014.

27 responses to Xfinity On Demand Coming To All Modern Comcast TiVos

  1. I suspect Comcast continues to humor TiVo to avoid costly DVR litigation and licensing, as there’s probably no significant financial benefit to them on this front. However, it’s a win for TiVo customers in Comcast regions and also good for TiVo to maintain friendly relations with the nationa’s largest cable provider, who has intentions to increase their footprint via a Time Warner acquisition.

  2. I called tivo a month ago and self offered to come back for a 199 lifetime on a old Premiere box.

    They refused.

    250 later I’m back with a used lifetime box.

    I’ve never seen a company NOT want customers as bad as tivo.

  3. I wonder if this will include the Time Warner regions (if it goes through which is sounds like it unfortunately will)

  4. I’m a TiVo user in a Comcast town and this is literally the least-desirable thing they could possibly roll out to me. In 12 years I’ve never so much as a glanced at “On Demand” features. The godawful Home Media Apps were more interesting than this.

  5. “I suspect Comcast continues to humor TiVo to avoid costly DVR litigation and licensing, as there’s probably no significant financial benefit to them on this front.”

    I suspect all Comcast humoring of all parties at this particular moment concerns making sure nothing derails their abominable merger.

  6. “TiVo only managed to net 6,000 additional retail subscribers”

    But what if the net gain continues at an exponential rate?

    6,000 this past quarter. 12,000 the next quarter. 24,000 the following quarter. And so on. Under that math, they’ll reach 100% market saturation in just a few years…

  7. Your headline “All Comcast Tivo’s” is a bit misleading. I’m sure that the series 3 HD Tivo’s are excluded.

  8. Rolling the availibality out to everyone doesnt mean anything if the feature doesn’t work. Never got it to work on my premier

  9. @Dave, I think fear of litigation over DVR licensing is now in our past and TiVo will no longer be able to hold that stick against their US MSO frenemies. TiVo’s retail results this quarter exceeded the expectation of every analyst that covers the company. As long as retail users have to detail with CableCARD, I believe its a very tough sell and will remain a premium niche product. With that said, it surprises me that TiVo was able to manage the churn of legacy subscribers at relatively low levels and still add almost 50,000 new boxes during the quarter. I hope they are using the data that is being collected from their advertising campaign to tweak their messaging and advertising. We both know that the Tebow national campaign wasn’t effective for a number of reasons. I look forward to getting off an airplane in Tampa and seeing some TiVo messaging adorning the walls… :)

    I’m amazed at the negativity associated with availability of Xfinity on TiVo. From the anecdotal posts on TiVo Community, I see a very positive reaction to its availability in various locations. I would be very happy if my provider, Bright House, provided me access to the on demand library that I’m paying for but unable to access with TiVo gear. TiVo has disclosed that they are seeing higher retail satisfaction and growth in markets where on demand is available. I don’t believe that Comcast was forced into expanding the service. I think that Comcast sees minimal investment in enabling the feature and it helps their video sub numbers while costing them almost nothing. We are now hearing rumblings that Cox is about to launch this feature in their markets.

  10. I really like having access to OnDemand – I usually use it when there are quirks in existing recordings on my Tivo — signal quality issues, starting later than expected, missed for local interruptions, etc) or if I don’t hear about a new show until the first episode already aired, etc.

    I would imagine that whatever technology (was it Seachange or something like that) will be used in the future by Xfinity for some other service so no harm in implementing it early for Tivo…

  11. I absolutely can’t wait for this. I was getting ready to switch back to the x1 platform and leave tivo alltogether. On demand is great for kids, so I don’t have to clutter up my dvr with their shows. It is also nice if you have premium channels to be able to watch any of the movies when you want them. It is complementary to a dvr.

  12. @John/@Michael,

    Thanks for renewing my faith in ZNF readers! I’m jealous.

    ~Sam

  13. Yeah, the TiVo results certainly leave little confusion about where their bread is buttered. Of the 319,000 subscriber additions, 313,000 were cable. So while we see talk of how OTA support is so important on ZNF from commenters periodically, it really isn’t. Similarly of the current 4.2 million customers, 3.2 million are through MSO partners. Leaving 1.0 million retail customers. Meaning 75% of TiVo units are sold to MSO partners. And the MSO partners are responsible for virtually all the growth. You can certainly see why TiVo is paying increasing attention to them.

    Sad, but easy to understand. I don’t think I’ll spend a lot of time wondering if there will be a new release of TiVo desktop any time soon.

  14. “I suspect Comcast continues to humor TiVo to avoid costly DVR litigation”

    Comcast signed a deal with Tivo before the original Dish verdict was released. They can humor Tivo until 2018 when the patent runs out.

  15. @Oldude,

    They had no requirement in their agreement to expand beyond the agreed to footprint. This expansion was a conscious decision by Comcast to provide their current and new TiVo customers additional functionality. My theory is that the expansion has a positive ROI for Comcast.

  16. OldDude, the original 2005 agreement to which you presumably refer is no longer in play (as the Comcast Motorola TiVo was a failure on many levels for both companies, beyond TiVo’s booked R&D). VOD services are based on a newer agreement inked in 2011, the market rollout of which was contractually completed last summer by Comcast. As to the nature of the geographic expansion I can only speculate. But, yes, the crown jewel patents have a few more years left. Hopefully TiVo does something interesting with those payments which are still coming in.

  17. The original deal had Comcast pay Tivo several million dollars not to be sued. It is most certainly still in play. Comcast is not using Tivo today. And Tivo is not suing them today either. Why else would Comcast give Tivo a free walk on a patent good for another 5 years? Comcast will play along just enough to prevent Tivo from being able to claim breach of contract.

    Sam there are not enough Tivo’s active on the Comcast network to justify the engineering expense to make On Demand work for Tivo. I don’t believe Comcast is doing it because they are making money on it. Just not enough money there.

  18. That is precisely why I think that the implementation work they already did will be used in the future for some other purpose as well – be it some sort of in-home gateway, or something else (I don;t know how X1 or their future X2 platform work for OnDemand)..

  19. I currently have Xfinity On Demand via my Roamio in Minneapolis and it’s great. It often has full seasons of shows I haven’t watched yet (or even knew about when they originally aired), as well as those I somehow failed to record.

    The integration in the Roamio is great too — Xfinity is included in the sources when you look up a show, and you can jump right to watching it without navigating through the normal On Demand menus.

    The integration worked out for both TiVo and Comcast: I may have been less likely to get a Roamio without this feature, and I actually upgraded my cable package once I got it because of how easy Roamio made it to find things and getting teased by some shows I wanted to watch out on On Demand for channels we didn’t get.

  20. I’ll eventually be going back to Comcast. Comcast is better that Fios, at least for television, in my area and I do miss having the on demand channels when I need them. The integration is great.

  21. Yeah, my FiOS contract is up in August. Will reevaluate then. Still don’t understand why the tier above and below me gets BBCA and I don’t. Although if Comcast is still blocking stuff on Roku, I probably won’t make a move. On Demand would be a nice-to-have for me (and a requirement for my brother- and sister-in-law who have three kids and rely heavily on on demand).

  22. There are reasons for Comcast to the implementation other than money. Its another thing they can point to as far as them being “open” during FCC fights or negotiations over their purchase of TWC without much if any revenue impact given the small number of TiVo customers. It may be that the perception of being open to TiVo (most people know what TiVo is, probably assume there are more customers than there actually are) is more important than the reality (they don’t lose that many STB rental fees).

    As far as FiOS vs. Comcast I had always assumed FiOS was a slam dunk. But with the Netflix/Comcast war settled, and VZ still limiting Netflix inbound and Netflix having little incentive to settle with them now, I’d bail on FiOS in an instant.

  23. Dave: the FIOS tier above you gets BBC America because it’s more expensive. There is no tier below you – FIOS Prime and FIOS Select are in the same rung in the ladder. When FIOS dumps all the sports channels in your tier (Prime), it leaves them with enough extra profit to add in other networks, like BBCA. But you should get BBC On Demand in SD with Prime, for reasons that escape me.

  24. Matthew, maybe? The tier to the left (Select) has 70 fewer channels and runs $5 less a month, which indicates to me it actually is below Prime versus a simple swapping of sports for artsy or whatever. Seems like BBCA in SD was dropped at least a year ago, if not longer. The tier to the right of mine (Extreme) is $20 more a month. Whereas the Comcast tier (Digital Preferred) equivalent to mine, in terms of pricing, provides BBCA in HD. Of course, the comparison isn’t exactly apples to apples but, for now, I’m content to make up the difference via Amazon Instant. I’ll reevaluate this summer when my “contract” is up. In Verizon’s favor is no broadband caps and I rely heavily on MoCA networking – I could run it on my own, but the router/model was free (versus new subscribers). By the by, I got a mailer from Comcast today – Digital Preferred, 25Mbps for $90/mo for 12 months with a $200 gift card.

    Update: Man, this math is fuzzy… was playing with the FiOS configurator, and the plan below me could be $5-15 less. Tier above looks to be only $10/mo more. And, now that I think about it, both Verizon’s twitter support and phone rep couldn’t upgrade me a month or so ago for reasons associated with my account settings and I moved on instead of waiting for the issue to be escalated – too much work. Amazon is easier. ;)

  25. Dave, I feel the same way about the tier options…confusing and/or disappointed. I’m signed up for the top HD tier, but they don’t have some of my favorite channels in hd that ARE in hd on Comcast, like HIstory Channel 2. I have to compare the packages with Comcast’s packages and see which one has the better hd package. Verizon’s internet seems better to me because I can get a better download/upload stream, because of their fiber optic technology and they let me watch HBO Go and Showtime Anytime on my Roku.

  26. The Xfinity On Demand user experience on a Tivo Premiere is horrible. If you know what content you are looking for, then is it possible to use the Tivo global search to quickly find and play content from Xfinity On Demand. However, if you are trying to discover content within the Xfinity On Demand application, it is a tedious and often futile exercise of navigating an endless file tree. It’s only saving grace is that there is a recently viewed folder at the top level that allows you to resume a show once it has been found.

    Comcast doesn’t care about providing Tivo users new features on it’s platform. Enabling this feature on Tivo devices was probably as easy as deploying XML files with the stream URLs. This is about as minimum of a viable product as they could deliver. I suspect this has more to do with appearances during the FFC’s review of their acquisition plans than anything else.

  27. Michael Burstin April 25, 2014 at 11:14 am

    @jonathan – I’ve found that the menu/directory hierarchy directly mirrors the hierarchy that is on the Comcast provided boxes. Does it suck, yes, but that is because Comcast’s menu navigation is terrible on their own boxes — nothing to do with what they provided Tivo.

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