Archives For Cord Cutting

aereo-tivo

Aereo, the innovative yet ultimately criminal television provider buried by the establishment, had an extremely poor showing in bankruptcy liquidation this week — netting a mere $2m. And, without TiVo’s participation, the numbers would have been halved. It appears the same, single source of unknown allegiance notified a number of outlets the details of TiVo’s haul includes both the Aereo name and customer list (which may not be all that impressive). As a TiVo spokesperson said yesterday, “We have OTA products and see some value in these assets.”

Indeed, since last summer, TiVo’s attempted to capitalize on Aereo’s buzz …and their demise. However, while we do believe there is a growing market of cord cutters interested in advanced television solutions, TiVo still isn’t Aereo – which had unmatched pricing and convenience with their decentralized and hardware-agnostic approach. Having said, that we can certainly envision a scenario where the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR ($50, $15/mo) becomes “Aereo by TiVo” … especially should they repackage it in something other than the reused base Roamio enclosure, which I assume is planned. But to more closely replicate Aereo’s Slingbox-esque functionality, they’ll need to directly integrate stream functionality to this hardware… or resume manufacturing the no-longer-available TiVo Stream accessory. And a Roku or Chromecast client wouldn’t hurt.

TiVo Coming To FiOS*

Dave Zatz —  February 26, 2015 — 19 Comments

frontier-tivo

TiVo has announced a “strategic relationship” with Frontier. And their first phase is quite unique. Whereas TiVo’s prior provider partnerships have exclusively powered cable television solutions, Frontier will be marketing the Roamio OTA to their Internet customers mid-year:

The new partnership will enable Frontier’s high-speed Internet customers to enjoy a consistent TV experience spanning major broadcast channels and over the top (OTT) content via TiVo’s unified cloud-based service, a whole-home gateway DVR, TiVo Mini, TiVo Stream. Multi-screen and remote scheduling functionality will be available through TiVo Web, iOS and Android mobile applications. Frontier customers with high-speed Internet service will enjoy an all-in-one DVR, a broad line-up of over-the-top applications, and a variety of top-tier streaming video services via a high-quality streaming solution.

While Frontier isn’t the first telco/cableco to hedge go after cord cutters and cord nevers with video services (see Cox, Cablevision), they will be the first to offer an over-the-air DVR for subscribers to record broadcast programming, like NBC and CBS, in conjunction with online services like Netflix. With an established customer base, TiVo presumably expects fewer marketing challenges than moving DVRs thru retail along with Frontier obviously anticipating a new revenue stream. Pricing details haven’t yet been released, so we can’t provide a comparison to a retail-acquired Roamio that currently runs $50 for hardware, along with an ongoing $15 monthly fee. Irrespective of cost, install assistance, etc it’s a forward thinking approach… that may not move the needle much for either company – at least not in 2015. Enter the more compelling second phase of this relationship. Continue Reading…

The OTA Flatenna Showdown

Dave Zatz —  February 7, 2015 — 23 Comments

hdtv-antennas

As many contemplate cutting the cord for basic, yet high-definition television viewing, or to perhaps augment cable with advanced over-the-air capabilities, as we’ve done with Tablo, finding a great antenna is paramount. Most are probably best served by roof-top or attic placement, yet it’s the least practical for a variety of reasons. While Mohu may have pioneered the “flatenna” several others have joined the fray. And I reached out to a few players in this space that have kindly provided their least obtrusive indoor antenna offerings for an OTA receptivity showdown. Which will wear the crown of best indoor antenna?

Comparing antennas is an exceedingly difficult task, as our individual locations in relation to the broadcast towers obviously vary in terms of distance and interference (either within the home or the environment). Not to mention, different stations around the country broadcast with differing strengths and frequencies. To make matters even more complex, not all tuners are not created equal — meaning the televisions, over-the-air DVRs, and other devices we each possess will have varying degrees of reception. So your mileage will absolutely vary from mine. Most small, indoor antennas are rated for receptivity in the 25-35 mile range, but those that are offered with amplification can be extended to 50ish.

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roku-tv-home

By way of USA Today and Rob Pegoraro, we’re reminded that while Roku TV provides a whole lot of good, the over-the-top experience remains compromised due to deep-seated fear and loathing amongst some content providers. Specifically, Disney has prohibited access to the WatchESPN app and a raft of Disney-branded channels available … on traditional Roku boxes. And, of course, Roku is clearly complicit as they cozy up to these guys while segregating their hardware offerings. The sad irony is that anti-consumer policies like these leave a number of folks wondering why they bother paying for cable when they may not be able to watch their programming how or where they want it. Perhaps the successor to CableCARD will provide a more sensible path forward. Or maybe all that excluded Disney content will simply find its way to Roku via Bittorrent and Plex.

slingtv

Update: As an update to the original story below, I just had a call (or two or three) with Echostar’s Sling Media and their reps. They want to assure us that Slingbox ain’t going anywhere — in fact, they mentioned DISH CEO Joe Clayton stated as much during the press conference that introduced the new Sling TV. What’s happened is that DISH has licensed “Sling” and “Sling TV” from Echostar, who has vacated sling.com, and the Slingbox 500 that became the Sling TV reverts once again to the Slingboox 500. (Although, irrespective of name, I remain concerned with 500/STV sales and continue to recommend their equally capable M1 placeshifter at half the cost for those with a need.)

Possibly the most disruptive product announcement out of CES this week is DISH’s long foreshadowed Internet television service. And, amongst several surprises, is “Sling TV” branding. I guess it’s nice that DISH chose to repurpose the sling.com Echostar asset… as you’d be horrified to learn what we had paid for that URL. Having said that, it certainly clocked in far less than the questionable “Blockbuster” acquisition — a name which would have made a lot of sense in this space. At the very least, we’re glad to see they backed away from DishWorld and an awful “nuTV“.

But, where it gets real weird is that the Slingbox 500 was renamed… Sling TV… less than six months ago. While I was not impressed with that product at its inflated price point, saying goodbye is hard and I suspect this clearly last minute change-up foreshadows the death of at least one Slingbox. If not all of them. Continue Reading…

dvr-plus-streaming-channels

Channel Master’s fee-free, over-the-air DVR+ is set to receive a massive infusion of online content. Company reps emphasize that what we’re looking at are not “apps” that require configuration and interaction, but rather the direct integration of linear streaming content into the guide for channel surfing alongside those HD antenna broadcasts. Available channels can be added and removed from the guide, as your viewing tastes dictate, and are transparently powered via a custom-built local player that relies on a sort of dynamic DNS service hosted by Channel Master — which points to the online feed, in addition to providing the relevant logos and metadata. Beyond streaming, Channel Master also hopes to introduce pause and record features to this online content, but they’re not certain that will be ready at launch in a month or so. Not to mention, I wonder how many content providers would be willing to play ball.

All in all, this will be nice bonus for Internet-connected DVR+ units and compares favorably to the $15/mo TiVo Roamio OTA … but I’m more looking forward to Channel Master’s whole home functionality, expected in Q3 or sooner.

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We’ve been quite enamored with Tablo, since our first product demo at CES 2014. In fact, our very own Adam Miarka is a highly satisfied customer of this effective bit of clever gadgetry that provides both over-the-air DVR and Slingbox capabilities. Beyond the existing 2- and 4-tuner models, CES 2015 heralds the Tablo Metro… which houses 25-mile range high def OTA antennas within the existing enclosure.

Two very small but incredibly powerful fractal antennas inside Tablo METRO capture OTA TV while intelligent switching technology enables the antennas to operate independently to capture signals originating from broadcast tower locations, even if they are located in opposing directions.

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