Archives For DVR

Samsung Smart Media Player Boxee

Samsung is speeding along toward the launch of a new retail CableCard device thanks to a waiver granted last week by the FCC. As Dave reported back in May, Samsung is planning to bring its Smart Media Player to market in time for the holiday shopping season. However, the company needed a waiver to avoid having to include an analog tuner in the device. Samsung got its wish with this notice from the FCC:

Specifically, we waive the requirement in Section 15.118(b) of the Commission’s rules that Samsung’s Smart Media Player include tuners that are capable of receiving analog cable channels. We conclude that the waiver is in the public interest because it will reduce the cost and power consumption of the Smart Media Player and provide consumers with a retail set-top box option that can better compete with devices leased by cable operators, thus enhancing competition in the retail set-top box market.

The FCC waiver helps ensure Samsung’s box will actually make to retail shelves, but it’s not the most interesting angle to this story. First of all, the hybrid cable+OTT set-top comes along at a time when retail CableCARD devices were all but presumed dead. Second, while the new set-top doesn’t include a hardware-based digital video recorder, Samsung could conceivably pair the device with Boxee cloud DVR service. Samsung picked up Boxee earlier this summer with plans to include the company’s technology in future “smart” television products. The new Smart Media Player certainly sounds like it qualifies.

simpletv2

Simple.TV and Silicon Dust are joining forces for the second iteration of Simple.TV, due later this year, by leveraging their respective software/services and hardware skills. In speaking with Simple CEO Mark Ely last week, the companies appear to be addressing most of my gen 1 concerns.

First, the updated hardware will feature a new Zenverge transcoder with ultimately twice the horsepower of the original model and jumps from a single ATSC tuner to way-more-practical dual tuning capabilities… all in a more compact package (with more accessible coax connector). Unfortunately, it’s still a bring-your-own-harddrive sort of DVR – for those that choose to leverage that feature. Perhaps it ultimately works out OK as customers can choose the appropriate amount of storage for their particular situation? But it does add a certain amount of complexity to the solution and my distaste of clutter is well known ’round these parts.

On the software front, v2 of Simple.TV looks to provide a tighter experience, with a cleaned up and more efficient UI. Along with v2, Simple intends to expand video playback this fall beyond the web browser, iOS, and Roku to Android and Chromecast, with DLNA, NAS, and cloud storage all possibilities on the the roadmap — their long term intent is to become something of a Swiss Army knife of HD OTA, streaming television content to and via the devices of your choosing, including gaming consoles. (I’m also told original Simple.TV owners will receive the new, improved software.)

We expect to learn more regarding hardware and service pricing in the next month or so ahead of launch and I’m looking forward to checking out Simple.TV v2. Cord cutting is a reality and I believe there’s a market for advanced over-the-air, antenna-based television solutions such as these with the pool of contenders expanding nicely – including the new 4-tuner TiVo Roamio and cloud-based OTA DVR Aereo, with Echostar/ChannelMaster in the pipeline.

NimbleTV

NimbleTV is back in business. DISH Network cut off the streaming video service last month with a statement saying the company wasn’t an authorized Dish retailer. Now, FTABlog reports that customers in NimbleTV’s New York pilot market are slowly getting service back.

One of several TV Everywhere services on the market, NimbleTV offers its own business model twist. For $29.99/month, the company will transcode video from your pay-TV service and stream it back to you over the web with cloud-based DVR features. NimbleTV pays retransmission fees to content programmers, but does not have a formal relationship with any pay-TV operators. Instead, the company has informally paired up with Dish Network, and theoretically will do the same with other service providers in the future.

Things were fine and dandy for NimbleTV users until Dish cut off access to content in July. The service is returning now, but there are a couple of changes. First, all subscription charges for both NimbleTV and Dish service will be bundled together in one bill. Second, users have to provide a “New York Metropolitan Area address” in order to get access to local New York City channels. Of course, as FTABlog notes, “Did you know that the Empire State Building is at 350 5th Ave, 10118? Just sayin’.”

I’m still not convinced NimbleTV can make a go of its business, but it does count former Slinger Jason Hirschorn as one of its advisers. The company plans to expand beyond New York going forward to several other U.S. cities, and to select international markets.

vap2500

By way of DSLReports comes news of the Verizon FiOS TV VAP2500. The Motorola box:

enables you to transmit multiple standard- and high-definition video streams throughout your home wirelessly. You can enjoy a full range of video services and applications without having to run wires, lay cables, or drill holes.

Further, documentation refers to the upcoming IPC1100 set-top we covered from CES, which is supposedly on track for an early fall launch.

televation-tablet-dlna

We can’t say this comes as a total surprise as we were treated to a variety of Motorola technologies in the Arris booth while perusing the Cable Show. Two Motoarriola devices in particular represent the evolution of the Televation product line, along with additional whole-home streaming capabilities. And, unlike the TiVo Stream, Android could be supported out of the gate given the cable television content we observed being streamed to a Moto tablet running Skifta to handle secure DLNA duties.

(Thanks Chris!)

Fox Loses Appeal Asking for Injunction Against Dish's 'Hopper' Ad-Skipper

Comcast & TiVo Hit Pause

Dave Zatz —  July 22, 2013

tivo-xfinity

Perhaps the biggest drawback to TiVo ownership is the inability to access our cable provider’s On Demand services. Yet TiVo and Comcast attempted to rectify the situation to their mutual benefit by bringing Xfinity On Demand to Premiere hardware, as a followup to their initial (and not very good) set-top collaboration. However, after leisurely rolling out the service to 21 markets, the companies have hit the pause button. According to Comcast’s Ted Hodgins:

We work with TiVo to jointly determine which markets are scheduled to get the TiVo with XFINITY On Demand as the best return on our joint investment. […] Unfortunately, we currently don’t have plans for any additional markets this year while both Comcast and TiVo evaluate the performance and results of the current markets where this added feature has been made available.

(Thanks Sam!)

Apple DVR proposal would pay for skipped ads

Have you heard? Apple wants to get into the TV business. And the latest? The company supposedly wants to create a premium service that allows users to skip commercials. But wait, there’s more! Apple apparently thinks it can set up a revenue-sharing system that will pay programmers for the ads that viewers skip. According to former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin and “people briefed on the conversations,” Apple is literally proposing to compensate media companies for the dollars they lose to commercial skipping technology.

There are so many oddities and possible permutations to this particular idea that I have to wonder if the media leaks are accurate. First off, there’s the premium ad-skipping service. Haven’t we had DVRs for more than a decade? What’s new? And if nothing, why would Apple need or want to negotiate some new type of payment plan to do what TiVo or other OTA DVRs already do?

Second, there’s the issue of determining the value of a skipped commercial. Is an ad worth more depending on when and where it’s skipped? If viewers increase ad-skipping behavior with other services, is the value of the ad decreased? What if a viewer sees part of an ad, but not the whole thing? How is the revenue split decided? Will Apple provide data on user behavior to programmers to validate ad-skipping fees?

Third, if Apple is willing to negotiate with programmers, why not just use the standard retransmission fee model? Sure, it sucks. But does create a compensation plan that requires complex evaluations for every commercial skipped sound any better?

Maybe Apple’s proposal to programmers is actually a modified retransmission scheme with blanket ad-skipping fees worked in. However, even that seems odd because it suggests Apple is willing to set itself up to pay more for content in order to attract licensing deals. Ultimately that move would put it at a serious disadvantage among pay-TV providers. How would Apple stay competitive?

The whole situation here sounds weird to me. The way I figure it, either the news reports are wrong, or Apple still has a lot of work to do figuring out television programming in the living room.

Not the Channel Master K77

Boxee may have abandoned the market to secure their survival, but Echostar & Channel Master are teaming up once again to tap the over-the-air television crowd with a new line of retail DVR. According to a FCC filing (embedded below), the two Channel Master K77 models “combine access to broadcast programming with over-the-top and DVR functionalities.” Both units are slated to include 16GB of Flash storage, presumably to house the OS and any potential OTT apps, with DVR storage handled via an integrated 320GB hard drive (in the higher end SKU) or added via USB storage by end users. Previously, the two companies collaborated on the DTVPal DVR – which seemed to enjoy a decent amount of buzz and interest. More recently, Channel Master has been pushing an Entone-powered OTA DVR… but may not be pleased with the results given their rekindled relationship with Echostar. We firmly believe there’s an audience for this sort of product and are looking forward to what Echostar brings to the table. Related, Simple.TV, with a new line of funding, is likely also preparing an updated OTT/OTA DVR. Combined with TiVo’s incoming 4-tuner Series 5 and Aereo’s contested cloud-based approach, options are certainly heating up for cord cutters. Continue Reading…