Archives For DVR

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…

fios-home-screen

I admit I was somewhat confuzzled when I first read Verizon’s FiOS TV email outreach. As, likely, you were while scanning this headline. Although “home page” is typically associated with the web browser, Verizon has co-opt the term to describe their newly minted FiOS TV welcome screen.

The FiOS TV Home Page is a screen on your TV that will appear each time you turn on your Set Top box. After you have finished exploring the FiOS TV Home Page, getting to live TV is easy. Either press the “Exit” button on your FiOS TV remote control or wait 15 seconds and you will see the last channel you viewed.

I assume the objective here is more branding reinforcement and VOD or service up-sell rather than useful-new-customer-centric-feature. However, the presentation is attractive and can be quickly cleared if one so chooses. And we suspect this is the way the industry is moving, given my TiVo Mini‘s initial menu screen (after the television has been off awhile) and Roku’s content curation objectives.

directv-geniego-android

geniegoDirecTV’s placeshifting Nomad has been rebranded as the GenieGo. Further, the satcaster has dropped the price from $150 to a more compelling $99. The device initially only transcoded and transferred DVR recordings, but has since expanded its capabilities by also providing (almost) live television in-home streaming – comparable to the competing TiVo Stream and DISH Sling Hopper. However, unlike the TiVo Stream, DirecTV has just released an Android app (which isn’t receiving the greatest of reviews) to go along with their longstanding iPhone support. However, for pure streaming, the Sling Hopper remains best-in-class as Slingbox functionality is baked directly into STB hardware, without requiring a separate box, and content can be beamed both within the home and beyond. But for those with limited or no bandwidth whilst on the move, both the GenieGo and TiVo Stream conveniently provide video offloading functionality… although preparing and transferring the content can be a bit kludgy.

x1voice

Following in the footsteps of DirecTV, Comcast is the latest provider to bring voice navigation to the television:

The X1 Remote app first launched in mid-2012, giving X1 customers the ability to control the TV, navigate Xfinity On Demand choices, search for programs and tune to TV shows and movies directly from their iPhones. In addition to uniting the TV screen with customers’ mobile devices, the latest version adds the ability to issue voice commands for guide navigation and content discovery. For example, users can say “When is the next Phillies game?” or “Show me all action movies on HBO.”

Continue Reading…

DISH Hopper Gets Social

Dave Zatz —  May 29, 2013

dish-hopper-social

DISH ups the ante on “social” television today with the introduction of Hopper functionality that wraps video within Twitter stats and social feeds:

The new Social app is accessible via DISH’s “quick launch” bar (to access, press the blue button on remote control) on the Hopper. Customers can link up to four Twitter and four Facebook accounts to the app. Viewers have three options for the type of content displayed in the status bar, which is located on the right side of the TV screen when the app is open:

  • Now Watching: shows the Twitter feed relevant to the show or channel the user is currently watching.
  • My Twitter: displays the user’s personal Twitter feed (if logged-in) and gives them full Twitter functionality, including the ability to “Favorite” a tweet, reply to a tweet, retweet a post and create a new Tweet.
  • My Facebook: displays the user’s personal Facebook feed (also requires log-in) and gives users the ability to post a status update, with the option of selecting one of several pre-drafted, easy-to-use updates.

While I still find myself somewhat lukewarm on in the idea of polluting populating my screen with Facebook or Twitter updates, DISH’s approach appears far more customizable and sophisticated then the competition. Not to mention the stats from The Collective are fascinating – especially should the app extend beyond live television and into DVR recordings.

VMS

Back at CES, we admired Verizon’s upcoming six-tuner IPTV Media Server (VMS) and thin clients. And while it appears “soon” is off the table, the company has put a stake in the ground at NAB for a September launch. FiOS TV has long offered a whole-home DVR experience, but this evolved solution takes on more of a true hub-and-spoke approach with a central server (and FiOS router) feeding extenders sprinkled about the home. Also revealed at NAB is a VMS recording capacity of 100 hours, equating to perhaps a 750GB or 1TB drive. Along with the new hardware, we expect Verizon to continue layering on OTT content as they’ve done with Twitter and Pandora. Of course, TiVo offers FiOS customers a compelling whole home solution with their Premiere and Mini platform (that I run)… but it requires a certain amount of upfront cash along with a willingness to understand and overcome retail CableCARD shenanigans — representing an ever-shrinking number of customers.