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While 2011 marks the first year in ages we failed to hit The Cable Show, we’ve fortunately got friends with boots on the ground. Who kindly went on a TiVo booth recon mission to bring us photographs of the brand new TiVo Premiere Q four tuner DVR and non-DVR TiVo Preview. Sadly, TiVo’s rep clearly stated that they have “no plans” to make this whole-home DVR hardware available to anyone but cable company partners (with RCN up first). However, I’ll continue to hold out hope that the Preview makes it to retail in some fashion later this year.

Netflix Shipping Center

GigaOm has proclaimed that Netflix streaming and the cable industry are clearly in competition – vying for the same eyeballs and the same dollars. Yet, I’m not seeing it. Sure, there’s some overlap… of on-demand television content and back catalog films. But amongst the vast majority of my peers, and within my household, Netflix provides suplemental entertainment. And most of us choose to carry on with pay television services. We may bitch and moan about price hikes, billing problems, or customer service letdowns. But premium television remains quite compelling. Without live news, sports, or current, first run movies Netflix will remain largely a supplemental service. Netflix knows this. In fact, the GigaOm crew cites CEO Reed Hastings regarding the cord cutting mythos, “It’s not happening, it’s not anything we are causing, cable and Netflix are complementary.”

As evidence, GigaOm suggests that cable companies RCN and Suddenlink neutered their TiVo deployments by removing the Netflix app: “The logic? Netflix could get people to ditch their premium channels and ignore cable VOD.” However, RCN is very clearly on the record in its desire to offer Netflix streaming and Suddenlink is would “gladly” consider it. This is purely a licensing issue involving Netflix, TiVo, distributors, and studios. Rather than threatened MSOs blocking the (perceived) competition. Amazon Video on Demand, of course, is another story entirely.

As for me, I’m streaming very little Netflix these days. I’ve either already seen the content or just don’t find it compelling. In fact, between Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and HBOGo, I’m considering dropping Netflix altogether. Unless, I upgrade to more (Blu-ray) discs per month – reverting back to physical media to catch newer releases at bargain prices.

TiVo’s pushed out a press release that expands upon earlier news of a new four tuner TiVo Premiere Q and non-DVR TiVo Preview (pictured). An excerpt:

Consistent with TiVo’s mission to bring the TiVo experience to every screen in the house, these new products enable TiVo’s operator partners to provide a superior advanced television experience to non-DVR households, single DVR households, as well as multi-room DVR households. With its four tuners and support for broad range of video on demand content over IP, the TiVo Premiere Q serves as an advanced video gateway, while TiVo Preview provides the full TiVo user experience for non-DVR households and also functions as a thin client complement to those using a TiVo DVR, creating a fantastic multi-room viewing experience. Both set-top boxes support the full integration of operator services such as Video on Demand, PPV, CallerID on the TV and linear programming, plus access to broadband applications and services.

Unfortunately, for at least the moment, these products will only be available through MSOs… as the announcement goes on to say:

TiVo plans to make both new products available to its cable operator partners later this year.

Further, I reached out to TiVo this AM for clarification. Their response:

Premiere will continue as our primary retail offering. Premiere Q is digital-only, built specifically for distribution by cable operators.

So that answers the tuner question. And for the time being, those of us who prefer purchasing home entertainment gear without involving our cable provider are out of luck. However, a “primary” retail offering doesn’t necessarily preclude a “secondary” retail offering… online or via Magnolia. And I did confirm the Preview contains a CableCARD slot.

I’m preparing follow-up questions for TiVo, Inc. Get yours in below and I’ll report back with anything notable.

TiVo’s been telegraphing this move for nearly a year, not to mention a few good leaks, so it should come as no surprise that they’re (sort of) announcing the components of their whole home DVR solution: a quad-tuner TiVo “Premiere Q” and the non-DVR “TiVo Preview.” However, the reason I say sort of is that the news comes from a single source and hasn’t been corroborated anywhere else. Yet, it all sounds legit. And we know The Cable Show gets going in Chicago this week. So it’s most likely a case of premature coverage, rather than a forgery of some sort.

From the TMCnews article:

TiVo Premiere Q is the company’s first quad-tuner gateway set-top box, a higher-end option than its flagship Premiere dual-tuner digital video recorder. In addition, TiVo is rolling out Preview, its first non-DVR HD set-top box. RCN will be the first U.S. cable operator to offer subscribers the Premiere Q and Preview, in addition to its current TiVo Premiere offering, later this year. Suddenlink Communications also expects to offer the new boxes at some point.

The story goes on to say these new units stream content box-to-box locally via MoCA, versus the retail Premiere’s traditional wired or wireless networking. Again, no surprises. Continue Reading…


The GigaOm crew attended a FiOS TV briefing… where they received a demo of Verizon’s FlexView video-on-demand service running on a Roku streamer. I can’t say I’m surprised, as Verizon made their intentions to break free of the set-top box clear back at CES. In fact, they demo-ed live television on an iPad and Samsung Blu-ray player – telling me over 3 dozen consumer electronics devices were similarly hosting FiOS TV services in their labs.

Now if you look closely at the picture that the GigaOm crew snapped, you’ll notice what appears to be a Sony PS3 on the left. Interestingly, Verizon had an unidentified gaming console locked within a cabinet in Vegas also running FiOS. Throw in news of Fox and Disney content headed to a gaming console, via a television subscription partner, and I’d say mystery solved.

What excites GigaOm is the possibility of Verizon going over the top (OTT) with a nationwide on demand service. But that’s been done. What fires us up is television as an app. A path DirecTV looks to be similarly following with their RVU trials. And it’s all sorta like AllVid. But without the FCC’s intervention.

RCN’s Sr. Director of Video Product and Video Operations, Jason Nealis, has kindly spilled the beans. TiVo Premiere-to-Premiere streaming functionality is indeed included in the 14.8 software update. Perhaps even more significant (to TiVo) is what looks to be a consolidation of the codebase. The fact the RCN-deployed TiVo Premiere DVR hardware is running a similarly numbered software version as retail and now includes the HDUI is notable.

From Jason’s RCN release notes on DSL Reports:

  • Support for IPAD APP
  • Support for Multi Room Streaming (versus move of content)
  • Several Bug Fixes and enhancements
  • VOD previews
  • Further TiVo Look / Feel when in VOD Portal

While streaming has previously been alluded to and leaked, not to mention those compelling new clues in the code, we still don’t know when or if the improved multi-room DVR functionality is headed to retail TiVo DVRs. Continue Reading…

The eminently valuable Verizon Idea Exchange is not only a rich resource for customers and employees, somewhat reminiscent of the TiVo Community Forum back when TiVo actually cared participated, it’s also a blogger gold mine. Unfortunately, the news I bring you today represents a little short term pain based on customer feedback. Yet, it’ll presumably result in a better long term experience. The FiOS IMG 1.9 nationwide rollout has been temporarily placed on hold. From Verizon Director Joseph Ambeault:

We are pausing for a moment to incorporate some customer feedback into 1.9 (e.g. SD Override wizard and improved contrast between the text and background)… we’ll be back in action shortly.


We’re incorporating feedback we got from customers in the 4 markets that were already upgraded to 1.9.  Just some minor tweaks as we get ready to roll to other markets in the coming months.

Anecdotally, based upon ZNF commentary, it does appear some users have had difficulty reading text within the toned down color scheme. But I have no idea what this SD Override wizard is, as I do my best to avoid SD channels. Not to mention that most televisions offer plenty of display modes to stretch or zoom content. But our audience is probably a little more savvy than the typical cable customer and it sounds like Verizon may have ended up with a number of confused or disgruntled subscribers who’ve received 1.9. Hopefully, they clear these issues and resume the rollout in short order. As I’m ready for the 16:9 guide and whole home streaming to/from each and every HD DVR. Continue Reading…