Web Video Coming to FiOS TV

Dave Zatz —  July 24, 2008

TiVo’s not the only primary television add-on with web video intentions. Verizon is currently beta testing web video on their set-top boxes and their initial marketing partners include Veoh, Blip.tv, Break.com, and YouTube. Unlike TiVo which taps directly into YouTube’s H.264 content, Verizon utilizes their Media Manager PC software as an intermediary. Sites are indexed on a regular basis and when a video is selected from the DVR, the PC software automatically transcodes and streams content on the fly.

In addition to serving up those large video aggregation sites, Media Manager software also facilitates shipping virtually any video podcast to your DVR. The functionality is similar to what TiVo provides today. However, from a conceptual and functional point of view Verizon’s solution looks like it’ll be more elegant – allowing you to add RSS subscriptions directly to Media Manager via web browser.

These features will be offered as part of Verizon’s top tier DVR package, which also includes PC photo sharing and multi-room DVR playback. As you hear in the video above, customers not currently enrolled in that plan will be able to self-provision a trial through their box. The functionality and business implications are currently being evaluated and refined in beta, with the expectation it’ll be offered to customers later this year or early next year.

(This is Part 2 of a 2 part series. Part 1 covers Verizon FiOS TV IMG 1.6 software, which includes PC video serving, web scheduling, games, dual tuner buffers, GUI enhancements, numerous fixes, etc. and will begin rolling out later this summer.)

27 responses to Web Video Coming to FiOS TV

  1. Not feeling this approach is workable anymore. I don’t want to install and run software on my PC that manages this kind of thing. It takes a lot of juice on my desktop, making my PC regularly unusable. It runs into regular network issues. Codec installs can break things. License fees for some of the codecs needed means the PC software isn’t free. Etc. Etc.

    Verizon needs to build this so that the access happens directly from their STB, and either streams over in a format their box can handle, or any conversions happen at Verizon.

  2. What kind of file types does it support? Xvid and Divx?

  3. @Pete The PC video transcoding supports all the obvious formats as far as I know. Initially, starting with the upcoming 1.6 rollout you’ll be able to transcode and stream video that lives on your PC, including HD resolutions. The web video service I describe in the post will be available at a later date and leverages the same codecs/software which will again handle the common formats – though a large percent of the unencrypted/DRMed web video is various MPEG-4 flavors.

    @Glenn I agree the experience is not ideal, however using the local PC provides a much broader selection of content stuff and keeps Verizon (and their servers) out of legal trouble. The software and service are “free” in that higher tier plan. I think it’s an extra 5 or 10 bucks a month – the whole-home HD DVR streaming alone makes it worthwhile in my opinion.

  4. Dave,

    Do you know if they will support mac?

    Not sure if I’m willing to pay the extra $5 per month to upgrade the DVR functionality.

  5. Mac support wasn’t mentioned. I didn’t even ask, assuming it would be later or never. Sometimes that’s how these things go… :/ However, to be certain I’ve dropped one of my contacts a note on this – will let you know.

  6. If FiOS has extended Media Manager to web and personal videos – I am looking forward to it. I can manage my web urls on PC that I can watch on TV — cool!!

  7. @Dave, thanks for all these quick responses….

    One more question for you… Do you know if they fixed the following issue? If you want to start watching a DVR recording that is STILL in progress you have to do the following: Click DVR>Select Program>”Play” (there is no “Play from Start” selection)>Pause>Re-click DVR>Re-Select Program>”Play from Start”

    Its weird… its like they forgot to add “play from start” into the original menu for programs still in progress…

  8. @Pete I don’t know for sure but will ask. I do know they made a variety of small interface improvements which should make navigation more efficient – less clicking OK, etc.

  9. Is that a full screen menu/guide I see on an HDTV? Is that only available on VZ’s premium DVR set top box? I have a regular HD box with no DVR, and the guide/menu doesn’t stretch the full length of the TV.

    Thanks! This looks cool, by the way! I want Mac integration, though!

  10. I have a WHS from HP to centralize and stream all my media. I really do not want another solution to this problem. Verizon really needs to be able to stream from WHS.

  11. When you say “sites are indexed on a regular basis”, who does that? – Is it Verizon or is it the PC software or something else or is the PC software throwing search queries on to the various web video sites and aggregating the results?

  12. @Gr8 I don’t know the time frame, but it’s my understanding that Verizon’s servers do/will index the sites for presentation on the DVR – though the video itself still resides on the respective company’s servers and are streamed on demand from their site and through your PC to DVR.

  13. Verizon says on their website that we can watch a movie (I assume from HULU, etc) from the internet on any FIOS connecrted TV in the house with the Home Media Manager software and the Home Media DVR.

    But, what they say we can do and what we can actually do aren’t quite the same, as I can’t watch movies or TV from the internet on any TV. MarkF

  14. @Dave

    I know you’re a busy man, but when is part 1 of this blog entry going to be available? I want to hear more about v1.6 of the FiOS software! Thx.

  15. Pete, definitely this week. Just a question of when I can find some time. (I’m on the road for work.)

  16. There is a writeup about 1.6 on Gizmodo:
    http://gizmodo.com/5030576/verizon-fios-how-theyre-futurizing-tv-faster-than-att-and-big-cable

    Looking forward to Dave’s writeup as well for info not in the Gizmodo article.

  17. David,
    Any idea when they are going to address the problems with the “favorites” on the media guide.?.It’s been a year and I still can’t use the “favorites”..It will not allow you to enter a channel number under “favorites” and to me (and it has to be to others) is a huge inconvenience..So at this point, favorites is useless..You call VZ, they are aware of it and working on it, one year later…VZ is pleasant on the phone but totally useless when it comes to answering pointed questions…I’m referring to the new media guide, not the old one..I live in Sarasota, Florida..Thank you!

  18. @Jeff Matt from Gizmodo and I were the two at the briefing, so we were exposed to the same information. Perhaps the presentation and our memories will be different though?

    @David I was told favorite channel presentation has been improved, and there’ll actually be two sets of favorites – perhaps for you and a spouse or such. However, I don’t live with the DVR and don’t know if this resolves the pain points or not so you’ll be the one telling me. Still trying to get my 1.6 photos up – perhaps tomorrow before I leave for my next work trip.

  19. Hi David,
    Thanks for the quick response..
    I only have th HD receiver and a regular box, no DVR receiver..In both cases, “favorites” doese not work.
    You can enter channels in “favorites”, however, the “favorites” guide will not accept numbers that are inputed. In other works, while in “favorites” I input “84” and the guide will not accept the input..However, if you are not in the “favorites” guide then the guide will accept the numbes input..It really is a huge inconvenience and I think many new VZ customers are not aware of it..It’s astonishing to me that they haven’t tried to rectify this ongoing problem…Additionally, I see they added CNBC/USA HD today and the positioning of the channels is awful. They have some local “HD channels’ which they aren’t and I can;t skip them whle trying to get to CNBC/USA HD..If the favorites were working, I could bypass these so called local “HD” channels..VZ has a long way to go to catch up with its competitors in the software and customer service arena..
    Again, thanks for the quick response..

  20. I see they added CNBC/USA HD today and the positioning of the channels.

  21. I just got fiostv today with a dvr, and I downloaded the media manager…it doesn’t seem to support sharing video files at all..all it scans for is audio and pictures.
    What am I doing wrong?

  22. I have all new boxes, QIP 7216 with 1.6 IMG, and the latest version of media manager. I did some digging, and I found out that the video streaming feature is still not public. Aparently there has been a beta test version of this for almost 1 year now, but all the trial slots are closed, and everyone who participated had to sign an NDA. Sucks! I wonder what is taking them so long? Also another thing, my box doesn’t support remote DVR yet either, even though I have the latest firmware…I am really regretting switching from directv. Fios for internet is great, but for tv, they are just too feature lacking compared to directv.

  23. Surge, how is the DirecTV DVR better? The things you seem to want in the FiOS TV DVR service are not offered at all by DirecTV.

    What do you mean remote DVR? If you’ve got two boxes in your home and are on the top tier package, you can stream recorded shows from the DVR to another DVR or converter box.

    Have you given support a call?

  24. Just talked to Verizon Fios Tech support for the second time to find out WHEN WILL MEDIA MANGAER SUPPORT VIDEO streaming from the pc? For a second time their tech support was completely in the dark! Ie., took them 15min to tell me “they don’t have a clue”.
    Unfortunetly I think I’m going to invest in a 3’rd party media center router that does all this (VERY ANGRY) as it’s a huge investment of time and money vs they could simply come out w/ this software for customers.

  25. Wow…been a long time since I’ve investigated this.
    David, by Remote DVR I meant the ability to set your dvr from the web your cell phone.

    I was mad because verizon advertised this, but when we finally got FIOS, the tech said it wasn’t available in our *market* yet. DirecTV had it along time ago…but regardless, they just gave it to us about a week ago here in buffalo, ny.

    What’s going on with the video streaming in media manager though? Seriously, it’s been over 1 year since the beta. IT looks like this feature is never going to be available.

    Does anyone know anything concrete about video streaming with media manager?

  26. Haha, July 24th 2008, look at the date on this article.
    One year later, this feature is no where to be found.
    Great job, Verizon. Way to go!