Archives For Industry

DigitalLife Wrap-up

Dave Zatz —  October 16, 2005

TiVo Software
TiVo server-based HME apps, show overlap recording intelligence, and bug fixes expected next month with the release of system software 7.2.1 for Series 2 units.

TiVo Hardware
TiVo-branded wireless adapter with secretive X factor processing is on the way.

Netgear DAVE 700
2nd generation media streamer worth a closer look when released.

Creative Zen Vision
Every feature you would want in a PMC, except a practical screen.

Akimbo
By integrating VOD programming into Microsoft’s MCE, they have a fighting chance at survival.
Continue Reading…

Live From DigitalLife

Dave Zatz —  October 14, 2005

Both TiVo and I are here at the Javits Center in NYC! Bob Poniatowsky, of Tivo Product Marketing, graciously answered some of my intrusive questions – stay tuned for the details. Additionally, Netgear has a new media device on the horizon which I’ll be reporting on. Akimbo, Orb Networks, and some of the Slingbox folks are also here – so we’ll see what else I can dig up.

And yes, I did see TiVo’s VCR coffin. The mortuary music is definitely over the top, though it hasn’t discouraged the decent sized crowd from picking up free boxes.

TiVo
Continue Reading…

TiVo Goes To War

Dave Zatz —  October 10, 2005

TiVo LogoDirecTV starts peddling their new DVR this week, but in the long run will it be competition or commission for TiVo? If TiVo is able to prevail in defending their “time warp” patent versus Dish Network, with court proceedings beginning this week, they should be able to work out royalty arrangements with other DVR providers… in or out of court.

Rocky Mountain News says: The question of who owns the rights to technology that revolutionized the way people watch TV goes to trial this week in a Texas courtroom.

TiVo Inc. alleges that EchoStar Communications Corp., operator of the Dish Network satellite- television service, infringed on a patent central to digital-video recorders, devices that allow viewers to pause live TV and skip commercials.

At stake for Douglas County- based EchoStar are unspecified monetary damages and the risk that it might be forced to modify many of its receivers. That’s if the company is found liable for infringing on TiVo’s “time warp” patent, which allows viewers to record a program while replaying another. For TiVo, which pioneered the DVR technology – only to see satellite and cable companies create their own versions – the case could set a precedent as to whether it can sue other companies that have introduced competing products.

DVR Advertising Gets Rolling

Dave Zatz —  October 9, 2005

Business WeekBusiness Week’s 10/17/05 article “Hey, Advertisers, TiVo Is Your Friend” obviously caught my eye. David Kiley spotlights “ad guru” Rishad Tobaccowala and the inevitability of advertisers finding us in the “new-media” era. I can only hope, as we move forward, that the Comcasts and TiVos of the world will advocate for consumers and strike a reasonable balance that allows them to rake in the advertising bucks without spamming us into oblivion.

Business Week says: His advice? Adapt to consumers’ changing behavior rather than try to cling to the status quo. People’s preference for consuming content when they want it will only grow, he says. He predicts 30% of U.S. homes will have DVRs in less than two years. Pair this preference for on-demand content with the ability to search for video on Google or Yahoo, download it over speedy broadband links, and zip it to the living room TV, and traditional TV schedules will be rendered meaningless.

And advertisers will have much more information they can use to target particular viewers. Rather than knowing simply what percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds watch Desperate Housewives, they’ll be able to figure out which people watch, how frequently, and what they’ve been searching for recently on the Net. Advertising can become more science and less art.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, Tobaccowala has urged clients, including BMW and Coca-Cola, to cut deals with TiVo and cable companies to create more compelling and targeted messages. GM tried experimental ads on Comcast Corp.’s video-on-demand ser-vice in Philadelphia last year. Each month 10,000 people chose to view GM’s one- to two-minute ads featuring test-driving segments and in-depth vehicle profiles. Next year, GM plans to roll out slicker ads for most of its vehicles on three more cable systems. “On-demand is going to explode, and we need to be ready for that,” says Jack Bowen, GM’s general manager for customer relationship marketing.

CableCARDThe National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has provided a CableCARD status report to the Federal Communications Comission. For the most part the association documents the adoption rate, consumer costs, rate of incidents, and other metrics of current CableCARDs amongst the top cable providers. However, the more interesting news is the status of CableCARD 2.0 on track for 2006 deployment. The current CableCARD tecnology provides the ability to decrypt and display digital cable without the need of a cable box, whereas the CableCARD 2.0 spec allows for both multistream (for dual tuning DVRs) and bidirectional communication (interactive program guide, Pay Per View, and Video On Demand). Initially, only multistream 2.0 CableCARDs will be released with bidirectional functionality following in only  another year or so if we’re lucky.
Tivo has promised a HD-capable DVR with CableCARD support next year.

NCTA says: The Commission asked for a report on the “effort to develop and deploy a multistream CableCARD.” We are pleased to present the following information in response to that request. The specifications for Multistream CableCARDs and the Multistream CabelCARD interface are complete. The “M-card” will operate in a backwards compatible, single-stream manner with single stream devices (for example, in a UDCP); or in the multi-stream manner with multi-stream devices. See CableCARD Interface 2.0 Specification OC-SP-CCIF2.0-I02-050708, http://www.opencable.com/specifications/. Pre-Qualified samples of the multistream CableCARD will be submitted to CableLabs for preliminary testing in the fourth quarter of 2005, with the expectation of full testing and qualification early in 2006. It is expected that multistream CableCARDs will be widely available for use in commercially available commercial devices by mid-2006.

DishWith the proliferation of satellite TV and DVR services, tracking viewing trends has become more difficult and less precise. To collect more comprehensive data Nielsen announced a partnership with Dish Network today, in addition to their preexisting DirecTV/Tivo trial.

Dish says: EchoStar Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) and its DISH Network satellite TV service today announced that it has signed an agreement with Nielsen Media Research for national TV ratings service. Nielsen, the leading provider of television and audience measurement services, measures the viewing habits of TV homes including DISH Network’s estimated 11.4 million customers. The deal will allow DISH Network to use Nielsen Media Research data for marketing, programming and sales research purposes. DISH Network can use the data from Nielsen to guarantee advertisers a specific number of viewers for their advertisements.

Rent My DVREarlier this year Micke Langberg launched Rent my DVR, an online marketplace to buy and sell television programming. By scanning a web listing of television shows, one chooses what they’d like to receive. If a request is filled, the show can be downloaded for about 25 cents through a custom “P2P” application. Conversely, a person can scan open television show requests and agree to provide them. The provider receives payment of also about 25 cents upon delivery of a show. Langberg, based in Sweden, is vague on the technical details such as networking protocols used and the source of guide data.

When asked about the legality of his product, Langberg responded, “I can’t see that there should be any legal concerns related to our service, since it is exactly the same thing as asking your neighbor to record a TV show for you.” While he was adamant that BitTorrent plays no part in the equation, I can’t help but wonder where shows originate.