Archives For Cord Cutting

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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As TiVo marketing continues to struggle, amidst “Patent Trollvi” merger rumors, the company appears poised to shake up Bolt pricing come May 2nd. While retail sales have been on the upswing, I wouldn’t call them stellar and I can’t imagine TiVo would outright raise prices. However, I could envision a scenario where they drop the bundled year of service to lower the cost of entry and potentially further reduce churn as the folks who buy-in come prepared for a recurring monthly fee. Further, with a Bolt OTA model supposedly back in play, after missing its 2015 launch, they’ll want to make pricing as palatable as possible given a high percent of price-sensitive consumers in the cord cutting category.

After about a year of limited geographical release, Sony has slimmed down their Playstation Vue over-the-top (OTT) television streaming service to accommodate nationwide availability. Specifically, to get this done, the new packages do away with the locals (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) as those require market-by-market negotiation due to affiliate forces.

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Sling TV, the leader in this space, starts at $20 a month, whereas Vue clocks in at $30/mo. However, that extra $10 gets you about twice as many channels – above and beyond some of Sling’s $5 add-on packs, including FX, Fox News, and three tiers of Nickelodeon. Further, Sony provides a pseudo-DVR service in retaining favorited shows 28 days for later viewing. Perhaps most compelling, while Sling TV is still restricted to a single stream at any given moment, Vue allows up to five concurrent streams to televisions with Amazon Fire TV – since many households have multiple residents and viewing areas. Yet, on the client side of things, Sling TV is available on more platforms including Android and the possibly ubiquitous Roku. As to interface and reliability, it seems both services have their work cut out of them…

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Until recently, my 4th generation app-ified Apple TV hasn’t really been any more or less useful than my Roku 3 and Fire TV. And, for some, its launch without Apple’s rumored television service has been a significant disappointment.

However, I was recently turned on to Channels ($15) – a new app which streams live television from any HDHomeRun network tuner, So you can pipe both linear television and streaming services all through the same input and interface (although, as of yet, without universal Siri search). While this will naturally appeal to cord cutters with an antenna, those very same HDHomeRun OTA models now map clearQAM (for those with providers that still deliver, like FiOS) and, of course, there’s the HDHomeRun Prime for digital cable via CableCARD.

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Who are the cord cutters?

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2016

Amongst the festivities as Channel Master released Sling TV to DVR+ during CES, the over-the-air entertainment company shared some interesting market data.

After two years of success with DVR+ and building a strong customer base, we are pleased to be able to share some insights about our customers, their needs and habits. […] we think you may find some of these facts surprising because they are in contradiction to what many of us have been led to believe about cord cutters.

The most fascinating portion of the analysis indicates cord cutting isn’t all about broke millennials. And, as I’ve argued all along, the motivation to drop traditional subscription television doesn’t appear to be solely financial. Rather, it’s likely about perceived value.

Our customers skew toward Gen X and Boomers. While we have Millennial crossover, the majority of our customers are age 35 and up with significantly more disposable income than Millennials, and they still don’t want a pay-TV service.

Magnavox and Mediasonic are generally known as manufacturers of rudimentary digital VCRs, while TiVo and Tablo thought of as the providers of more full-featured over-the-air DVR solutions… saddled with a recurring fee. But, from CES, CNET has uncovered some significant updates to Magnavox’s line of digital video recorders, exceeding the similarly fee-free Channel Master DVR+ capabilities on several fronts.

The new trio of DVRs are expected by year-end, supposedly starting at $400 — and, once again, fee-free as the company has underwritten the responsive Rovi guide. Magnavox’s OTA tuner count will range from 1-6, with 500GB – 2TB of integrated storage… that can be expanded via USB drive. As with prior Magnavox models, these also include DVD-burning capabilities (which may also make them subject to Macrovision copy protection, according to CNET). Continue Reading…