Archives For CableCARD

verizon-cablecard-lockdown

Verizon may find themselves dethroned as the top TiVo-friendly “cable” provider come August when they implement the Copy Once CableCARD flag — presumably at HBO’s request and in at least one market (Dallas Fort Worth). On channels and programs with this particular CCI Byte notation, TiVo owners will be permitted to DVR shows as they normally would. However, they’ll be unable to transfer those recordings to other TiVo units or offload them via TiVoToGo for mobile playback or archival purposes. TiVo owners with TiVo Premiere hardware will retain the option to stream recorded programming between units, but owners of older TiVo hardware and/or in a hybrid TiVo environment will find themselves out of luck. Fortunately, Verizon indicates this change will be specific to “certain premium channels” … which is more consumer friendly than Cox Communications or Time Warner Cable’s approach of locking everything down, other than the locals, in some regions. As with many such initiatives, this move inconveniences legit cable subscribers while doing nothing to limit piracy. And so it goes.

(Thanks, Brennok!)

tivoxfinity-billboard2

Now that the roll out of TiVo Xfinity On Demand is complete in the San Francisco Bay Area, Comcast and TiVo are pumping the hybrid initiative via billboard, bus, radio, and television advertising in what’s been described to me as a “joint effort.” In recent years, TiVo has shunned most forms of advertising beyond the web… so I find this to be a refreshing change in approach that hopefully bears fruit in terms of new retail subscribers. As to the product itself, Comcast’s formerly inaccessible On Demand offerings, both paid and included with one’s subscription, are now automatically available at no additional cost via TiVo Premiere DVRs. At least in this one (large) Comcast region. TiVo suggests you register here to be alerted when your Comcast neighborhood is upgraded. Of course, it’s also safe to assume we’ll continue to provide updates as they become available. Bonus advertising: One TiVo Community forum member also caught a TiVo Xfinity standee in a Bay Area Best Buy. Continue Reading…

tivo-xfinity1

As expected (and reinforced), Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand content is now available to TiVo Premiere owners in the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course, the offering requires a Comcast cable television subscription but it doesn’t require Comcast Internet service (as the possibly anti-competitive Xbox 360 Xfinity initiative does) – communication is handled via IP, while video is served over QAM. Content includes both all the free On Demand content, that makes generic cable boxes occasionally more appealing than TiVo’s hardware, in addition to traditional pay-per-view.

First hand reports are starting to trickle in via the forums with Jason Kersey sharing some initial feedback and these photographs. He reports that the interface is something of a cross between TiVo’s standard definition UI and newer HDUI, with some visual inconsistencies. However, I’m willing to be the vast majority of folks won’t be troubled – as bad as TiVo can be, it’s still better than Comcast’s box. Not to mention, the content remains king. In terms of that content, I assume it’s standard On Demand fair which Jason describes as pretty good and better than Netflix. Integration also extends to TiVo’s iOS, as you can see from the iPad screenshot below. Interestingly, with at least some content, fast forwarding is disabled. You might think this isn’t a prob… yet, we know Comcast intends to deliver On Demand advertising.

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As mentioned, the Bay Area is up first – presumably due to TiVo’s corporate colocation and this also happens to be one of Comcast’s largest markets. But TiVo indicates others markets will come online in the “coming months” and it’ll be interesting to see how the marketing tie-up between to two evolves, as the original agreement alluded too. Regardless, I’m confident this initiative will surely outperform the ill-fated Motorola Comcast TiVo that never made it beyond New England.

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I have it on good authority that Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand TiVo app will launch in early April — Intel that lines up with TiVo’s recent quarterly call indicating service will roll out within weeks… versus months. Instead of reselling the TiVo experience, as Comcast once attempted, the new initiative makes Xfinity On Demand programming available via TiVo Premiere DVRs acquired through retail channels, like Amazon or Best Buy. While the traditional pay per view content looks somewhat pricey, compared to say Apple TV and Redbox, the real value comes from the oodles of free on demand content that Comcast provides their customers. The first market to receive access will be San Francisco and if these cellphone pics don’t do it for you, there’s more eye candy to be had on TiVo’s Xfinity landing page.

Comcast-TiVo

Comcast’s long standing relationship with TiVo is nearly ready to bear fruit in the form of On Demand integration. Joint customers of the companies will receive Xfinity On Demand access via retail TiVo Premiere DVR hardware. During TiVo’s quarterly call, CEO Tom Rogers indicated field trials are underway and that public deployment to the San Francisco Bay Area “is weeks not months away.”

This collaboration looks quite different than their initial partnership, which resulted in TiVo software running on Motorola hardware to be marketed and deployed by Comcast. Unfortunately, the product wasn’t well received and was never deployed further than New England. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again? Rogers:

We started down one path and from a technical point of view completed it successfully, and they had difficulty rolling it out from an operational point of view. But we got back together and said, what would be a way that gets a product out that does not have those kind of operational difficulties

Indeed, the new solution is operationally distinct and something Rogers characterizes as a “hybrid” approach… Continue Reading…

moxi-eol

We’ve followed the retail Moxi DVR story arc for years… and, thanks to ARRIS, we finally know when it inevitably concludes:

The Moxi HD DVR and Moxi Mate® are no longer available for purchase. Program guide data and technical support for the Moxi HD DVR will be available until December 31, 2013. Continue Reading…

Boxee, makers of software powering digital media streaming boxes and computers, recently launched a campaign that seemingly encourages folks to “cut the cord” (and find fulfillment via their new Live TV USB dongle):

Yes, there are hundreds of cable channels, but make a list of the stuff you actually watch. You will probably find that most are on broadcast and the rest are available on Vudu/Netflix/Network sites. What is left on your list? Is it really worth $85 a month? We believe the combination of Netflix/Vudu/Vimeo/TED/etc. with over-the-air channels delivers a much better experience for less money.

Let’s skip for a moment the fact that most modern televisions tune over-the-air HD broadcasts and so Boxee’s cost “savings” pitch fails to incorporate their hardware fees. Instead, we’d rather focus on Boxee’s spat with the cable industry. And the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) takes issue with Boxee’s possible hypocrisy:

Instead of telling regulators that its service is a replacement for pay TV service, they now seem to be saying that their service is dependent on subscription TV and that regulators must… wait for it… dictate how cable service is delivered to its customers. Yes, that is correct. This cord-cutting, end-of-cable-as-we-know-it dynamo is demanding that the FCC not allow cable systems to scramble its basic service tier

Continue Reading…

tivo-cable-ratings

While most have little choice when it comes to cable providers, there are clear winners and losers when it comes to TiVo.

Years ago, the FCC, cable industry, and consumer electronics contingent, agreed upon the CableCARD as a means of of providing separable security to open the set-top box market for retail devices. Yet, there’s far more to the story as it’s been a rocky road… requiring additional government guidance for cable companies and due to the adoption of switched digital video (SDV) in many markets. We may find ourselves in the golden age of CableCARD, but not all providers are created equal. And what prompted this post was the discovery that Bright House brazenly charges for SDV Tuning Adapter rentals.

Look, we recognize that CableCARDs have been a burden for the MSOs. In fact, less than 550,000 TiVo DVRs are active on digital cable – after nearly 5 1/2 years on the market. So the cablecos have incurred all sorts of expense from required integration of CableCARDS into their own set-top boxes to training and support for what amounts to a small minority of customers who possess retail CableCARD devices like TiVo or the HDHomeRun Prime. Further, it’s not exactly a level playing field as IPTV (AT&T U-verse) and satellite companies (DISH, DirecTV) aren’t held to the same standard – even though they provide essentially the same consumer service, they’re regulated differently given their delivery mechanisms. And perhaps this explains why a cable company like Bright House appears to be throwing up roadblocks for retail CableCARD device owners… and why they bring up the bottom of our list as the absolute worst cable television provider for TiVo owners. Continue Reading…