TiVo Races The Clock To Integrate Rovi Guide Data

Dave Zatz —  June 4, 2016

From TiVo 10-Q Risk Factors:

Gracenote (formerly known as Tribune Media Services, Inc.) is currently the sole supplier of the program guide data for the TiVo service and we are transitioning the TiVo service to program guide data supplied by Rovi Corporation.  Gracenote is the current sole supplier of program guide data for the TiVo service. Our current Television Listings Data Agreement with Gracenote expired on May 19, 2016. On April 28, 2016, we entered into an agreement with Rovi Corporation to supply program guide data for the TiVo service after the expiration of our agreement with Gracenote. Our agreement with Gracenote provides us with a wind-down period post-expiration to allow for the transition of the TiVo service from use of Gracenote to alternative program guide data.  Gracenote has indicated that it is unwilling to provide a short term extension and that any longer term extension would be at a significant increase in cost. If we are unable to transition the TiVo service to use program guide data from Rovi by the end of the wind-down period (or if Gracenote ceased providing program guide data to the TiVo service prior to the expiration of the wind-down period and prior to our transition to Rovi program guide data), we would be subject to a period of time in which we are unable to provide the TiVo service to our customers and certain distribution partners, or alternatively, we may be unable to provide certain features or functionality which are currently part of the TiVo service for a period of time for our customers and certain distribution partners. In any of these events, our business would be harmed through the potential loss of customers, distribution partners and the associated revenues as well as potential contractual penalties and damages.

34 responses to TiVo Races The Clock To Integrate Rovi Guide Data

  1. One of TiVo’s strengths has been is comprehensive guide data and relationship with Tribune. Will be interesting to see what things look like post transition. For “wind-down period” timing, what are we thinking – 60 days? a year?

  2. Yep, how long is the wind-down, that’s the critical question. I wonder how long TiVo engineers have known this was coming and when they started mapping over all the Gracenote data to the corresponding Rovi data? As someone whose done a lot of work with large commercial databases, I’m sure that process can be semi-automated but I would think there would be a ton of errors that would have to be manually vetted. Just think of all those tv shows, not just series names but specific episode identifiers. Plus movies, specials, sports, etc. Nightmare.

  3. Not just the data itself, but how the data is classified or tagged… For us, how do the two data sources compare? Also, TiVo seemed to have a real good process for alerting Tribune to channel changes and such – you’d think with TiVo and Rovi merging, it’d be just as good or better. But who knows.

  4. Patrick Gaffney June 4, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Is this what is in the update that my TiVo is loading right now. I’m of the mind that I paid for a service. If they want to switch guide providers and they are not ready, should they pay that higher price to tribune and our service going. It is not our fault that the service is not ready on your deadline. Yet we will be the ones with 100’s of dollars in unusable equipment.

  5. Windows Media Center’s transition to Rovi’s guide data last year was a disaster. After a few weeks of trying and failing to get my guide working, I gave up and switched to SchedulesDirect data on MediaPortal (and have since switched to SageTV).

    Hopefully they do a better job on TiVo, but I’m not holding onto much hope.

  6. Right time of year to do it. Not much recording is going on in my house during the dog days of Summer.

  7. Get ready for lots of missed recordings and re-recordings of not new shows.

  8. What/who is using Rovi’s data currently, other than WMC?

  9. Jamie Solomon June 4, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Great. Now I finally get out of home streaming on my Bolt and now I can expect my onepass shows very likely to not record. I really regret goIng to TiVo.

  10. Hey folks! Remember that form 10-Q risk factors are worst-case-scenarios, most of which never come to pass.

    Maybe this will end up being a disaster. But the odds are that likely it won’t.

    They list two risks. One is Gracenote breaking their contract, which obviously would cause problems for Gracenote. The other is TiVo/Rovi not being able to adapt to the new guide data in time. This would cause significant monetary problems for TiVo/Rovi, which means they obviously have strong incentive to invest resources in preventing such an occurrence. As Dave notes, it’s a “race the clock” situation, but this is not like implementing a new UI feature. They’ve got real money at stake in beating the clock, which usually concentrates the mind.

    (Also, note one risk they don’t mention: that Rovi guide data sucks, and isn’t a viable replacement for Gracenote. They’d mention that too, if they thought it possible.)

    So who knows what happens? But just remember the context of where and why these “risk factors” are being presented before you freak out.

  11. Brad’s right. The Microsoft’s migration to Rovi for Windows Media Center has been awful…and still occasionally causes glitches for users. Rovi also powers Microsoft’s OneGuide on the Xbox One, though, and that seems to be a bit more reliable, so maybe there’s hope.

    Of course for Rovi, this is all about the $$$. If they did nothing else, I fully expected that they’d switch over to their own data. Why pay a competitor for something you already produce?

  12. I am finding generic descriptions on all of MeTV programming just for today 6/4. Is this because of the changeover?

  13. Chucky, I agree and imagine they’ll get it transitioned on time. Whenever on time is. The questions are how painful will the transition be and what’s the quality of the data we’ll receive on the other side?

  14. The data quality was a fear I had when the merger was initially discussed, and I honestly didn’t expect it to start turning over this quickly… I really through we’d have a solid year before these types of changes began.

  15. I really through we’d have a solid year before these types of changes began.

    Yeah, if TiVo service is going to start blowing chunks due to a switchover to Rovi data (and I’m not saying it will but it IS a legit concern), it would’ve been great if they could’ve held off on the switchover for a few more months. I’d like to figure out what my next main TV-viewing device is going to be (which may not be available until the fall as new products roll out) and get my Roamio OTA w/ Lifetime sold for top dollar before the TiVo brand takes a hit due to guide data problems.

  16. It’s not just the guide data.

    IIRC, from a tivocommunity.com thread, only Guidestone has the unique (copyrighted) identifiers that let you add, say, a streaming video from Amazon/Vudu/Netflix into your “Now Playing” list.

    So unless the above can continue to be licensed, well, it’s pretty much the end of the “OnePass” feature that makes Tivo more than a DVR.

  17. Is Guidestone a service of Gracenote, something else, or a phone autocorrect?

  18. sorry, autocorrect error, should be Gracenote.

  19. “s Guidestone a service of Gracenote, something else, or a phone autocorrect?”

    Retirement and life insurance for Southern Baptist ministers. (Yeah, I see from Bill in NC it’s autocorrect. But I like Google’s answer better.)

    If Rovi can’t provide OTT guide data, why would they buy TiVo and move TiVo over to Rovi guide data? Unless we’re imagining they they’re planning on becoming a pure-MSO DVR company, which goes against the “not really into making boxes, but want to be in the direct-to-consumer space” line from the CEO. And maybe he’s not being serious, But why even bother saying it then?

    Guide data can’t be this tricky a business, can it? I can imagine problems with transitions, especially if the box maintainer isn’t properly invested in making it work. But guide data itself? We’re not talkin’ proprietary info, are we? It’s just hard work in compiling the data and providing API’s for box maintainers to use, no?

    (Frankly, when I really think about this, the one problem I can foresee is for stuff I’ve offloaded from a TiVo not registering correct metadata from the kmttg txt file when I reload it onto the TiVo.)

  20. “Frankly, when I really think about this, the one problem I can foresee is for stuff I’ve offloaded from a TiVo not registering correct metadata from the kmttg txt file when I reload it onto the TiVo.”

    Or if we want to get more “worst-case-scenario” in a half-assed transition, maybe stored shows would lose some metadata, but new shows would be fine…

  21. I still record a bunch of stuff during the Summer. But not quite as much as the rest of the year. So if there are issues I would certainly rather it be during the Summer than the Autumn to Spring TV season.

    Besides it not like the old days where there was no way to get the show if you missed it for some reason. There are a bunch of ways now to watch the shows now. So if any recordings do get missed from changeover issues. It might be a pain but at least I know I’ll still be able to get my shows from Amazon, Vudu, Hulu, XBL, PSN, etc.

  22. We had a couple of guide-related changes that were necessary earlier this year, which were handled well-enough by TiVo, but took some time to get corrected. One was an issue with channel logos only, and the other was content.

    When our local CBS affiliate, WRAL, swapped with the NBC affiliate at the end of Feb, the guide info was updated on time, but the channel logos were not. I called TiVo about that to open a case, and within about 2 weeks, it was corrected. I know they had to likely do some verification before reacting, but this was a change that should have been fully within their control, and it took a couple of weeks to fix. This doesn’t have anything to do with the guide data provider itself, I don’t believe, just how TiVo identifies the channel through their logos (if this is driven by the guide provider, however, please correct me).

    The other was when my local provider, Greenlight, brought all of the analog channels into the digital space in the 400-range, and then later changed them to the 900-range. When in the 400s, the guide reflected the channels properly, but it took over 2 weeks to correct the guide info when they suddenly decided to move them into the 900-range. TiVo still showed the old guide data, so I contacted both Greenlight and TiVo to report the issue, and Greenlight reportedly also worked to get the updates published. I guess the change was a spur of the moment decision, but while the issue was occurring, all of my kids’ shows on Nick and other formerly analog-only channels failed to record. I had just returned the TiVo Premiere that I was renting as a secondary box (for analog channels only), and gave my parents my S3, so I was exclusively using my Roamio Plus and 3 TiVo Minis to serve up programming. As such, I had no ability to just go back to the analog channels via my TiVo, and had to wait it out. Fortunately, none of my shows were affected by this, and most of what the kids record are rerun episodes anyway. Still, it took a few weeks to sort out, which hopefully will improve with Rovi, but that is going to have to wait until the transition completes to figure out.

  23. I left WMC for Tivo largely because WMC transitioned to Rovi guide data. The Rovi data-especially sports data-was terrible. The day of the superbowl I remember noticing that the show description read, “Teams to be announced.” About 1/3 of my keyword based WMC recordings failed under Rovi data because they do a poor job of describing programs and classifying them correctly.

  24. The beginning of the end, but it may be a longer goodbye than we think.

  25. TiVo has lots of internal expertise in guide data and will work hard to get corrections made as needed. Easier now under one company than it ever was with Tribune, a third party. That company, btw, being named TiVo suggests they will have at least a little clout. Margret will not let us suffer bad guide data.

  26. It’s seems lately there has been incorrect guide data more frequently in my area, which prompted me to search for a reason why this would be. Does Rovi publish a TV listings page similar to Gracenote’s zap2it page? I would like to be able to compare information from both providers to determine who might be passing the bad data. At this time, my Tivo’s data matches Gracenote’s data, which does not match the programming.

  27. TiVo’s always been good about taking guide data feedback and working with Tribune (Gracenote). Not sure if that’s still in play, given the contract expiration, but you can submit issues here…

    https://www.tivo.com/lineup.html

  28. Michael Burstin June 6, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Does anyone know who provides Comcast’s guide data for their X1 box? I have a “wishlist” sort of thing set up on my spare TV running X1 for the Penguins. I noticed this morning that the X1 box hadn’t had a recording set up for tonight’s Stanley Cup game even when the guide info had Penguins in the description — so whether it was guide data at fault or just the X1 sucking at yet another thing, it certainly isn’t just TiVo that can have guide related issues.

  29. This is simple. TiVo should give everyone a month of free service if there is an interruption in the guide service. After all, as others have pointed out, that’s what we’re paying for every month, the permission to use TiVo’s service which is heavily based on guide data.

  30. If the schedule holds, they’ll update us in the nick of time – but without an extended, staggered rollout as they usually do and there will be issues. Sounds like the worst of the issues may be resolved, but there will be some Season Passes and whatnot that need to be recreated.

  31. As I said in another forum, I noticed something on my TiVo’s last night. I’m not sure what’s going on but on at least two channels, some of the programs have no program description, just either a generic synopsis of the show or “no information available”, but on TiVo’s website and the TiVo app, the same shows have program data. So far I noticed it on ABC (both NYC and Philly feeds) for Good Morning America, The View, The Chew, General Hospital, Bachelor in Paradise, and Jimmy Kimmel Live, on CBS (both NYC and Philly feeds) for CBS This Morning, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, The Talk, The Insider, Entertainment Tonight, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I’m sure there are other channels that have this mix of shows with and without program description but the list will probably be too long to type.

  32. “As I said in another forum, I noticed something on my TiVo’s last night. I’m not sure what’s going on but on at least two channels, some of the programs have no program description, just either a generic synopsis of the show or “no information available”

    Yup. I noticed this exact thing on one show yesterday. Otherwise, transition has been smooth so far…

  33. Lost all guide data last monday. Now it’s been 8 days without service after at least t calls to support, they finally admitted that they ate updating the guide and they have sent “hundreds” of patches out. They could give me no firm date for the problem to be resolved. Apparently NOT a smooth transition.

  34. Lost all guide data last monday. Now it’s been 8 days without service after at least three calls to support, they finally admitted that they are updating the guide and they have sent “hundreds” of patches out. They could give me no firm date for the problem to be resolved. Apparently NOT a smooth transition.