Archives For Satellite TV

Football season is most definitely upon us, as I’ve hit training camp and received my first fantasy league invite.

Outside of the satellites themselves, DirecTV’s most costly investment has got to be their NFL broadcast rights ($700m – $1b/yr!). But it must be paying dividends, as every DTV subscriber I know sticks around for one exactly reason: Sunday Ticket. So, whereas we spend our Sunday afternoons parked at the wing place, many of my friends enjoy every game from the comfort of their own homes.

If memory serves, last year basic mobile streaming access was provided as part of the DirecTV SuperFan package. However, they’re rolling with a new mobile tier dubbed Sunday Ticket To-Go as a $50 add-on in 2010. The service streams live game video to Mac, PC, and various mobile devices – the most notable addition being Apple’s iPad. I can’t imagine catching an entire game on a 3.5″ iPhone screen, but the 10″ iPad makes for a mighty fine mobile television. Also new this year is higher definition streaming, although I haven’t been able to dig up the exact resolution (or bitrate). Additionally, DirecTV is advertising picture-in-picture and being able to display a grid of 4 live streams simultaneously, but I suspect these new features might be limited to computer clients.

As for me, I’m sticking with the wing joint. At least until Cox Communications picks up the RedZone Channel – that’s probably all my short-attention span requires (but yet one more way in which Cox has failed me).

world-cup-mobile

It’s that time of decade… FIFA’s World Cup competition is in full effect. And it’ll be one of the most watched events in human history – given the seemingly universal love of soccer (er, futbol), national pride, and widespread viewing technologies.

Here in the US, ESPN seems to have the broadcast rights locked down. Yet, they’ve got a number of partners to share the love. Above left is the HTC-designed, Qualcomm-powered FLO TV Personal Television ($200) on loan from the fine folks at TSS Radio. (review to come) Above right is a coworker’s Sprint EVO (also HTC-designed), streaming SprintTV, which comes bundled with new data plans. And it turns out that SprintTV is actually powered by MobiTV… who now offer the iPhone app seen below. Subscribe for one month ($10) to catch all the action.

The ESPN 3 site/channel is also streaming games online, for those who have partnered broadband service (Cox, Comcast, FiOS, etc). Odds are high that you have access, yet don’t even realize it. More interesting, Orb has figured out how to scrape those streams from a home PC and relay them to an Android handset or iPhone with their updated server software and app ($10).

worldcup-mobitv-iphone

Beyond the live video, of course, there are all sorts of other World Cup-specific apps with scores, news, and clips designed for multiple platforms – such as Goal.com and ESPN. Plus, Sirius XM is broadcasting audio of all 64 matches.

Funny. TiVo wants to be the Google of television… but so does Google.

What Google did for the Internet, TiVo is now doing for the TV, bringing people a combination of excellent search results and innovative discovery that can’t be found anywhere else. -Tom Rogers, TiVo CEO

At Google’s annual developer conference yesterday, they elaborated on their television intentions – beyond the spring soundbite. As you might expect given Google’s search DNA and the appification of everything, Google TV supports both. And, taking a page from Yahoo’s Widget TV initiative, Google intends to work with a variety of hardware manufacturers to deliver Google TV.

For starters, we know DISH is onboard for some sort of satellite television integration and Sony will provide at least one connected television and Google TV-ed Blu-ray player. Logitech’s doing something too. (Huh, using Google TV as a remote control for TiVo?)  The first devices are expected to hit this fall, at which point I’ll probably have more to say.

While it’s a commendable goal to bring web content to the TV in a manageable way (like a variety of others, say Boxee), the best web video originated on television or in theaters. I don’t need access to thousands of websites serving random content of varying quality. It’s the same reason many of us want Hulu everywhere. We don’t care about “Hulu” per se, but we do care about that large catalog of professionally crafted content. The future of TV is… TV. I’ll let Mari sum it up for me:

Click to enlarge: (via BGR):

I don’t have a lot of details on what will be reheard in the TiVo/DISH/Echo DVR patent infringement saga, as the story is breaking and I’m hopping on a plane in minutes. (I’m also no lawyer.) But I believe this is specific to continued infringement and contempt related to DISH’s workaround, rather than a revisit of the original patent dispute (and TiVo victory). TiVo shares are currently plummeting, down more than 1/3rd. I’ll try to update this item when I land, should additional details present themselves. From Business Week:

TiVo Inc.’s legal victory against Dish Network Corp. and EchoStar Corp. for infringing a patent on digital-video recording services will be reconsidered by an appeals court. The court said it will consider whether the judge erred in not giving Dish a trial to determine if its workaround was still infringing TiVo’s patent.

UPDATE :

TiVo’s remarks…

We are disappointed that we do not yet have finality in this case despite years of litigation but we remain confident that the Federal Circuit’s ruling in our favor will be reaffirmed after all of the judges on the Federal Circuit have had the opportunity to review the merits of this case

DISH/Echo’s remarks…

DISH Network and EchoStar are pleased that the full Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has granted their petition for rehearing en banc. We believe the issues that will be considered by the full court on rehearing will have a profound impact on innovation in the United States for years to come.

After several months of private testing, followed by an open beta, DirecTV has formally introduced their whole-home DVR service. As a fan of the ‘hub and spoke’ digital distribution model, the MoCA-based solution looks quiet compelling. Of course, DirecTV subscribers would need at least one HD DVR. But each additional room (up to 15!) can be outfitted with a less pricey HD receiver to schedule or view recordings from the primary DVR. Free would be nice, but you really can’t go wrong a low $3 monthly surcharge.

Thanks, Jon!!

CNET’s Molly Wood sat down with TiVo CEO Tom Rogers earlier this week and hit him with a variety of reader-submitted questions. I can’t say there were any shocking revelations. Then again, I have a short attention span and skipped around the video (above). The only item new to me was the revelation that the next generation DirecTV TiVo, originally scheduled for a 2009 launch, has been further delayed. Last I heard, we were on track for early 2010, followed by spring 2010. It turns out we’re now looking at “the latter part of this year.” However, this is probably old news to investors and impatient DirecTV subscribers.

dish-922s-app-store

Seems the blogosphere got itself into a bit of a lather upon learning DISH and Google were collaborating on set-top box functionality, including search and YouTube video. But anyone who follows DISH/EchoStar shouldn’t be entirely surprised… Just check out the picture I shot of DISH’s app store (above) at CES 2009 on their yet-to-be-released VIP 922 DVR. Featuring a Google tile. It’s unclear if the recent “news” represents merely the piloting of an enhanced Google app, or a more significant Android-based set-top experience (as many have concluded). Regardless, the broadcast and broadband lines are quickly blurring. And DISH surely needs to do something dramatic to recoup the hundreds of millings they’ll soon (?) be depositing at the First National Bank of TiVo.