Archives For Cord Cutting

With Apple presenting Sling TV at WWDC this week, it’s safe to say their Apple TV television service remains on hold. Unfortunately, Sling TV still features a problematic interface and doesn’t provide access to “the locals” — like NBC and CBS. Further, while Sony’s PS Vue does include broadcast networks (in some regions) and a 28-day DVR, that service is currently limited to Playstation and Amazon Fire TV hardware. Well, today, Tablo has made good on their CES promise to deliver both live and recorded DVR television to Apple TV.

As a refresher, Tablo is something of a roll-your-own DVR. It’s a small headless box (starting at ~$200, plus service), featuring 2-4 tuners, that you attach a hard drive and an antenna to — with streamers like Roku, Fire TV, and Nvidia Shield delivering the video to your television. Of course, you can also view and manage Tablo from smartphones and tablets. Continue Reading…

To deflect the bad news, ahead of what sounds like a number of interesting reveals next week, after crunching the numbers Microsoft has announced their intention to pass on the messy, potentially limited but free Xbox One DVR functionality:

After careful consideration, we’ve decided to put development of DVR for Over-the-Air TV on hold to focus our attention on launching new, higher fan-requested gaming experiences across Xbox One and Windows 10. We’re always listening to fan feedback and we look forward to bringing more requested experiences on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live this year.


So, where does that leave us? Presumably, Xbox One live antenna television, via USB tuner, will carry on – including a 30-minute buffer and in-home streaming to iOS and Android devices. But those alluring recording capabilities, from multiple tuners will remain out of reach to this refocused gaming console. Fortunately, a pair of solid DVR alternatives exist in the headless Tablo and a resurrected TiVo Roamio OTA. HDHomeRun network tuners will soon also provide DVR options, in the form of software from manufacturer Silicon Dust and the developer behind Channels — although you’ll need a computer or NAS in the mix. Lastly, I wonder if Amazon might surprise us with something?

fire-tv-2015-hd-antenna-bundleAs Rovi indicates TiVo could move away from retail hardware, it appears Amazon is preparing to offer over-the-air capabilities on Fire TV … which dovetails nicely with uncovered support to display live channels within the AFTV interface. The Fire TV would obviously need some sort of network tuner, a la HDHomeRun, or a USB accessory, like the Xbox One, to pull in the signal via antenna. Of course, most televisions offer similar tuning capabilities. But accessing all our video content from a single interface offers some benefit… especially given Amazon’s search and voice capabilities. Having said that, for many, OTA content without DVR recording capabilities is a non-starter. Could that, too, be on the docket via USB storage or a subscription cloud service? In any event, piping in antenna television locally, as Sling intends to do with AirTV, is an excellent way to round out the video experience without worrying about retransmission licensing challenges that plague Sony’s PS Vue and the MIA Apple TV streaming service.

Kevin Tofel just cut the cord. While he’s a good pal (having live-Tweeted each other’s weddings), what makes his “cable” television exodus a bit more fascinating is his technological background — including years of contributions to the TV-centric HDBeat and PVRWire (RIP) blogs. Heck, we even collaborated on a piece for PC Magazine (back in 2006, when it was paper) documenting how to cut the cord… possibly before that term even existed.

So what’s different in 2016? The content Kevin and his family appreciate, including premium channels and futbol, is now available “over-the-top” … on the hardware of his choosing … and without waiting around for the FCC to unlock the box.

I’m convinced we’ve reached a bit of a turning point in the industry that makes “cord cutting” more feasible for a wider range of people. […] We’re not completely “cutting the cord” but are instead using a different “cord” for television content. […] Frankly, I don’t see why I need to pay Verizon — or any other company — $600 a year to rent set-top boxes or have the ability to DVR content.

Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 26, 2016 — 8 Comments

A periodic roundup of relevant news…


Patent Trollvi rises…

Yes, the leaks were true. Rovi intends to purchase TiVo.

While TiVo creates amazing products and has successfully deployed their solution to numerous cable operators around the world, beyond patent litigation and licensing, they haven’t found much financial success. Basically, the writing was on the wall. Continue Reading…


After blowing a 2015 holiday launch and abandoning their $1m “Aereo” acquisition, the TiVo Bolt OTA is seemingly shelved as an updated OTA-only Roamio DVR has been announced, featuring a generous 1TB of storage and favorable pricing, running $400 — that’s “all-in” with lifetime service, no recurring fees. Available May 2nd, this larger capacity Roamio OTA includes all the classic features you’d expect and a few new tricks, like commercial SkipMode. Sadly, given the intended audience, the box glaringly lacks newer cord cutter apps like a Sling TV or HBO NOW.


Bypassing content licensing, Sling TV may soon cram customer’s local television channels directly into the company’s pay TV service via a small set-top box and antenna.

Last summer, I came across a curious Echostar trademark application for “AirTV” which was later discovered to be a pedestrian new Slingbox out of Echo’s Sling Media subsidiary. However, given a well-timed tip, from a trusted source alerting me to incoming Sling Media hardware, that coincides with a lifting of the FCC’s short-term confidentiality, an audacious game plan has now been revealed.

By and large, the challenge in licensing over-the-top streaming content has not been in securing a gaggle of traditional “cable” channels. Rather, it’s in bundling the national networks (think: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) due to their legion of regional affiliates – who expect to be compensated in cash and/or broadcast of their local advertising. The cost and logistical challenge in brokering these relationships is immense, as demonstrated by Sony recently scaling back the PlayStation Vue television service and, perhaps, given the M.I.A. Apple TV offering.


Well, DISH Network subsidiary Sling TV and Echostar subsidiary Sling Media have collaborated on what looks to be an effective and novel end-around in “AirTV.”

Continue Reading…