Archives For TiVo
A periodic roundup of relevant news… via our writings elsewhere:
Sign of the Future: Sensors that Stick Everywhere
Lose your keys? Your cat? The TV remote? StickNFind has an app for that. Better yet, StickNFind has colorful sensors the size of a quarter, its own Bluetooth software stack, and a developer platform that could turn this crowd-funded Indiegogo product into a foundation piece for the coming “Internet of Things” revolution.
Comments on FCC Proceeding 13-177
Unlike recent TiVo and Samsung waiver requests, the EchoStar Channel Master K77 isn’t a CableCARD/cable device and isn’t saddled with the additional baggage of legacy MSO analog broadcasts and newly introduced market uncertainty due to recent Court and Commission rulings.
DISH Cuts NimbleTV to the Quick
NimbleTV is one of several startups trying to speed the progress of TV Everywhere. But Dish Network Corp. dealt a blow to the company earlier this month when it cut subscribers off from the TV source feeding the multi-screen video service.
Comcast Spreads Wi-Fi through Neighborhood Hotspots
Sitting dormant like sleeper cells, wireless routers in Comcast homes around the country will soon by recruited to activate a new Wi-Fi network. With the recent announcement of its neighborhood hotspot initiative, Comcast is preparing to split the wireless signal from home routers to create two parallel Wi-Fi access routes.
As we await Chromecast delivery, an interesting TiVo rumor has crossed our desk. Supposedly Series 5 and TiVo Mini hardware will leverage the same sort of technologies (DIAL? via Flingo?) that Google’s Chromecast has implemented. Cast is similar to AirPlay in that a smartphone, tablet, or computer pipes video to a television. However, unlike Apple’s solution, Cast and DIAL are open to all developers and content streams directly via the cloud-to-TV rather than being relayed through a local device – meaning we’d take less of a hit on mobile battery life and television streaming performance.
As most regulars know, TiVo’s been far more successful litigating and licensing their patent portfolio than in moving retail hardware and the Premiere line never really lived up to initial “One Box” marketing – given a meager app selection and generally poor performance. However, the incoming TiVo Series 5 presents a new opportunity to excite us content-loving consumers. And, in a classic chicken/egg scenario, while TiVo may not have a substantial enough customer base to warrant app development (as HBO indicated at the Cable Show and MIA Amazon Instant updates)… Google Chromecast does.
It’s quite conceivable that Google moved more Chromecast devices in the last few days than TiVo has in the year or more. So it’s a platform ripe for development. Beyond the existing Netflix and YouTube integration, we know Pandora is on-board and Sling and Redbox Instant are registered DIAL developers. With many more sure to follow. If TiVo can leverage these Chromecast-capable apps as an endpoint, they immediately expand their platform far beyond what looks to be an abandoned Developer Channel. Could be exciting…!
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.
While TiVo’s crushed it in defending their time warp and associated DVR patents, the company has a spottier record when it comes to trademarks – abandoning valuable assets and tilting at windmills. Even though the “TiVolution” mark was officially cancelled about 18 months ago, given TiVo’s European expansion and phonetic similarities, we suspect they may take issue with the new French “TeVolution” service that delivers television content over-the-top (OTT) via Netgear hardware. (via TiVo Insights)
After nearly four years, TiVo has retired the tainted “Premiere” hardware and moniker in lieu of the new TiVo Series 5 platform that goes by Roamio – given the DVR’s current and expected mobile capabilities.The TiVo Roamio line consists of two hardware models, three configurations:
- TiVo Roamio (TCD846500) $200
4 Tuner, Digital Cable & OTA
500GB HD, WiFi, IR/RF Remote
Smaller Form Factor STB
- TiVo Roamio Plus (TCD848000) $400
6 Tuner, Digital Cable
1TB HD, WiFi, IR/RF Remote w/ Audible Alert
Traditional Size STB
- TiVo Roamio Pro (TCD840300) $600
6 Tuner, Digital Cable
3TB HD, WiFi, IR/RF Remote w/ Audible Alert
Traditional Size STB
The 4-tuner model (picture up top and above) may feature a unique restriction in that it can be configured for digital cable, via CableCARD, OR for OTA, via antenna – but not both simultaneously.
Of course, all TiVo hardware requires a service fee — either $15 on a monthly basis or via a one time $500 lump sum payment. Although, there are discounts available to households with multiple units.
Software & Apps
Somewhat unexpectedly, TiVo has undertaken a fairly significant overhaul of their software platform. Along with that, we’re treated to improved performance over the Premiere line given a hardware platform that finally exceeds Adobe Air’s minimum requirements. Beyond Adobe, TiVo is also implementing DIAL, HTML5 and ultimately Opera’s TV app store. We’re hopeful this will spur third party development, including a potential refresh of the dated Amazon Instant experience, and Roamio units launched with refreshed YouTube and Netflix apps – featuring more sophisticated screen elements and menuing than present on Premiere hardware. Further, the “What to Watch Now” iPad recommendation engine makes its way to big screen via TiVo Central (as pictured above) and WishLists are finally rendered in HD. Sadly, the settings screens remain SD. Duke Nukem’ Forever!
Beyond launch capabilities, rumor has it TiVo’s Roamio roadmap suggests some sort of personal media cloud or wireless access and playback – possibly to include updated TiVo Desktop software.
On Friday (6/14), proprietary market intelligence firm StreetAccount reported that TiVo shares were up on “follow-through from speculation on a Hulu acquisition.” A rising tide lifts all boats? Or the first whiff of TiVo as a potential acquirer? Although TiVo has never been mentioned as a suitor, the company declined to comment on this note and reports indicate multiple firms have submitted bids for Hulu – with at least 3 exceeding $1 billion.
Mergers and acquisitions take various forms and a Hulu M&A will be no different. While we believe a TiVo-Hulu tie up is unlikely, by entertaining the notion we could imagine a scenario with TiVo sharing primary billing with some of Hulu’s current backers, perhaps Comcast and/or Disney, maintaining a small ownership interest to lower their cost while buying some say in future direction. The big unknown, irrespective of who ultimately lands Hulu, is what sort of content guarantees an acquirer would receive from the current owners.
TiVo recently settled with Google, Time Warner Cable, and Cisco for $490 million, swelling its balance sheet to over $1 billion. With limited debt, TiVo’s finances would conceivably provide comfort to Hulu’s owners as it is possible that they could maintain some sort of partial interest in a combined company. Hulu’s existing owners would appreciate TiVo’s neutrality, as the “Switzerland of the cable industry” – having partnered with many top US MSOs. Continue Reading…