Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  August 30, 2007 — Leave a comment

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

On the financial end, TiVo’s quarterly call yesterday was largely depressing. USA Today summarizes:

The digital video recorder pioneer said late Wednesday that it took an $11.2 million write-down in the quarter ended in July for leftover standard DVRs. [...] The 18-cents-per-share loss far exceeded the 5-cent loss expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. [...] TiVo added just 623,000 subscriptions in the last two years as the number of homes with DVRs grew 161% to 23.5 million, according to Leichtman Research Group.

Not much good news there… However, Megazone listened in and reports on the Comcast front:

one of the first things I noticed is that Comcast has agreed to fund further development of the OCAP software to bring it to additional platforms beyond the Motorola DVRs, including Scientific Atlanta DVRs. [...] TiVo on Comcast is continuing to progress well and Comcast stated: “we will commence the TiVo rollout process shortly, which will continue rolling out throughout the fall in Comcast’s New England Division including metro Boston, Southeast Massachusetts and New Hampshire.”

After all this time, I wouldn’t have used the word “well” to describe their (slooow) progress. But I’m happy to hear a specific launch time frame and locale, though they neglected to mention pricing. Comcast needs to rapidly expand beyond the New England division if TiVo is going to capitalize on this arrangement. (And they need to.) Given Comcast’s extended development bankrolling (now SciAtl boxes!), that’s exactly what they must intend. (I wonder if Cox is paying for the same thing. It’s been a year… When will they roll out TiVo software?)

Megazone also picked up on forthcoming Amazon Unbox “progressive downloads” that can be watched as they are received. An interesting tidbit, but what they really need is HD content. Which TiVo must know… CEO Tom Rogers said yesterday that HDTV growth “progressed at a pace that surprised many in the industry, including us.”

Continue Reading…

DVRs Killing DVDs

Mari Silbey —  August 29, 2007 — 5 Comments

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The Netflix rental model is beloved in my household, and we watch very different things on Netflix DVDs than we do on our DVR. However, a new study out of the UK by a firm called Ofcom, the independent regulator of UK communications industries, suggests that DVR viewing may be cutting into DVD popularity. In other words, people are building up viewing material on their DVRs rather than bother with the inconvenience of procuring DVDs.

This is not a big shock, and certainly the trend is bound to continue as more and more video is available digitally and on demand. However, while Hollywood may temporarily make a big fuss over the loss of DVD revenues, it’s hard to imagine producers and distributors won’t get a little creative before long. They can still sell content digitally, and ultimately they’ll have a lot more flexibility in offering video and interactive extras. It’s kind of like the ruckus DVRs have created in the advertising world. Sure people can skip over ads now, but in a digital world, advertisers have lots of opportunity to foist their messages on us – from YouTube’s new ad overlays to services like Time Warner’s Look Back which blocks commercial skipping. If and when DVDs completely die out, there will still be no lack of money to be made.

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DirecTV’s Internet-connected pay-per-view service is now in beta. Like Amazon Unbox on TiVo, a networked set-top box (HR20 in this case) can pull from a library of content via the Internet. Download speed is variable (obviously) but media can be played back while coming in, and some content does expire. Hit this DBSTalk thread for more details. Not sure how big a selling point this is (compared to Sunday Ticket and Superfan), but it’s a “nice to have” – especially if they load it up with HD content. Speaking of which, where’s my Unbox in HD?

drt800.jpgWeaKnees (a ZNF sponsor) has acquired a bunch of refurb Humax DVD burning TiVo units (DRT400). They can be had with the stock hard drive for $49 after rebate. $100 more gets you up to 350 hours of SD recording (versus 40). We’ve been very happy with the larger-capacity DRT800 (now in the bedroom) for several years as both a TiVo and DVD player/burner… though having single tuner has annoyed on occasion.