Archives For CableCARD

boxee-cablecard

Earlier this year, Boxee petitioned the FCC regarding the possibility of Big Cable encrypting their basic tiers, including the local affiliates. Despite the NCTA’s less-than-friendly retort, Comcast and Boxee seemed to have found some common ground in providing Boxee devices access to basic cable. From their joint FCC filing:

Comcast and Boxee representatives updated Commission staff on discussions between Comcast and Boxee on an initial and a long-term solution for consumers with retail IP-capable Clear QAM devices (“third-party devices”) to access encrypted basic tier channels in Comcast’s all-digital cable systems once the Commission allows for such encryption.

The initial solution involves the development as soon as possible of a high-definition digital transport adapter with an ethernet connector (“E-DTA”). This solution would enable a customer with a third-party device to access basic tier channels directly through an ethernet input on such third-party device or via the home network, and to change channels remotely in the E-DTA via a DLNA protocol.

The long-term solution, which would follow shortly after the initial solution, involves the creation of a licensing path for integrating DTA technology into third-party devices (“Integrated DTA”). Such a device could access encrypted basic tier channels without the need for a cable operator-supplied DTA or set-top box.

What’s most interesting about this proposal is the fact that it doesn’t involve CableCARDs — the existing solution for third party products to authenticate and access cable content. While Light Reading believes these access methods may foreshadow the death of AllVid, I see this more as the road to an industry-created AllVid solution – some secure, centralized way to distribute cable around the home… that manufactures like Boxee and TiVo could leverage. And without the ongoing hassle and confusion of CableCARD.

verizon-cablecard-lockdown

Verizon may find themselves dethroned as the top TiVo-friendly “cable” provider come August when they implement the Copy Once CableCARD flag — presumably at HBO’s request and in at least one market (Dallas Fort Worth). On channels and programs with this particular CCI Byte notation, TiVo owners will be permitted to DVR shows as they normally would. However, they’ll be unable to transfer those recordings to other TiVo units or offload them via TiVoToGo for mobile playback or archival purposes. TiVo owners with TiVo Premiere hardware will retain the option to stream recorded programming between units, but owners of older TiVo hardware and/or in a hybrid TiVo environment will find themselves out of luck. Fortunately, Verizon indicates this change will be specific to “certain premium channels” … which is more consumer friendly than Cox Communications or Time Warner Cable’s approach of locking everything down, other than the locals, in some regions. As with many such initiatives, this move inconveniences legit cable subscribers while doing nothing to limit piracy. And so it goes.

(Thanks, Brennok!)

tivoxfinity-billboard2

Now that the roll out of TiVo Xfinity On Demand is complete in the San Francisco Bay Area, Comcast and TiVo are pumping the hybrid initiative via billboard, bus, radio, and television advertising in what’s been described to me as a “joint effort.” In recent years, TiVo has shunned most forms of advertising beyond the web… so I find this to be a refreshing change in approach that hopefully bears fruit in terms of new retail subscribers. As to the product itself, Comcast’s formerly inaccessible On Demand offerings, both paid and included with one’s subscription, are now automatically available at no additional cost via TiVo Premiere DVRs. At least in this one (large) Comcast region. TiVo suggests you register here to be alerted when your Comcast neighborhood is upgraded. Of course, it’s also safe to assume we’ll continue to provide updates as they become available. Bonus advertising: One TiVo Community forum member also caught a TiVo Xfinity standee in a Bay Area Best Buy. Continue Reading…

tivo-xfinity1

As expected (and reinforced), Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand content is now available to TiVo Premiere owners in the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course, the offering requires a Comcast cable television subscription but it doesn’t require Comcast Internet service (as the possibly anti-competitive Xbox 360 Xfinity initiative does) – communication is handled via IP, while video is served over QAM. Content includes both all the free On Demand content, that makes generic cable boxes occasionally more appealing than TiVo’s hardware, in addition to traditional pay-per-view.

First hand reports are starting to trickle in via the forums with Jason Kersey sharing some initial feedback and these photographs. He reports that the interface is something of a cross between TiVo’s standard definition UI and newer HDUI, with some visual inconsistencies. However, I’m willing to be the vast majority of folks won’t be troubled – as bad as TiVo can be, it’s still better than Comcast’s box. Not to mention, the content remains king. In terms of that content, I assume it’s standard On Demand fair which Jason describes as pretty good and better than Netflix. Integration also extends to TiVo’s iOS, as you can see from the iPad screenshot below. Interestingly, with at least some content, fast forwarding is disabled. You might think this isn’t a prob… yet, we know Comcast intends to deliver On Demand advertising.

tivo-xfinity5

As mentioned, the Bay Area is up first – presumably due to TiVo’s corporate colocation and this also happens to be one of Comcast’s largest markets. But TiVo indicates others markets will come online in the “coming months” and it’ll be interesting to see how the marketing tie-up between to two evolves, as the original agreement alluded too. Regardless, I’m confident this initiative will surely outperform the ill-fated Motorola Comcast TiVo that never made it beyond New England.

comcast-tivo1

I have it on good authority that Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand TiVo app will launch in early April — Intel that lines up with TiVo’s recent quarterly call indicating service will roll out within weeks… versus months. Instead of reselling the TiVo experience, as Comcast once attempted, the new initiative makes Xfinity On Demand programming available via TiVo Premiere DVRs acquired through retail channels, like Amazon or Best Buy. While the traditional pay per view content looks somewhat pricey, compared to say Apple TV and Redbox, the real value comes from the oodles of free on demand content that Comcast provides their customers. The first market to receive access will be San Francisco and if these cellphone pics don’t do it for you, there’s more eye candy to be had on TiVo’s Xfinity landing page.

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… Continue Reading…

moxi-eol

We’ve followed the retail Moxi DVR story arc for years… and, thanks to ARRIS, we finally know when it inevitably concludes:

The Moxi HD DVR and Moxi Mate® are no longer available for purchase. Program guide data and technical support for the Moxi HD DVR will be available until December 31, 2013. Continue Reading…