Archives For Satellite TV


DirecTV (DTV) hit up some of their customers today with a web survey. A very interesting web survey. As it’s nearly all about Netflix (NFLX) – usage patterns, both physical discs and online streaming. Most intriguing is revelation of a DirecTV “concept” that would provide a “Netflix-like service” to existing satellite television subscribers:

In this next section, we would like you to evaluate a new service that DIRECTV is thinking about offering to their customers. DIRECTV plans to offer a streaming-only Netflix-like service for a flat fee per month, which would appear as a line item on your monthly bill.

  • The service would allow you to stream thousands of movies and television shows over a broadband internet connection to your television, computer or tablet.
  • The content available would likely be past season of current shows as well as older TV series and older movie released (released more than 5 years ago).
  • You could watch as many programs as you want for one flat monthly efe, similar to what Netflix streaming offers.

Continue Reading…

DISH Network has won the bankruptcy court auction of Blockbuster in a transaction valued at $320 million. Although they’ll surely invest much more as they attempt a turn around of the sullied but “highly recognizable” brand.

At first blush, their play struck me as highly bizarre. However, acquiring a streaming video solution and 1,700 brick & mortar outposts is potentially cheaper and certainly quicker than starting from scratch. And you know DISH intends to leverage their new storefront as a means of marketing satellite service when the deal closes in the next month or so. Although Blockbuster didn’t previously seem to have much success reselling TiVo or the PS3.

Lastly, DISH has been picking up spectrum and could conceivably make a cell phone or broadband play… and perhaps Blockbuster is where one would acquire a DISH Network cellphone as part of a triple play?

DirecTV iPad App Now Available

Dave Zatz —  February 28, 2011

After a mere 5 day tease, DirecTV is out with their free Apple iPad app. DBSTalk has produced a multi-page overview, which you can peruse above, and also kindly provided the screengrabs below.

Given its size, I find the iPad cumbersome as a full-time remote replacement. Yet, like TiVo’s iPad app, DirecTV has rounded out the experience with additional info and features that potentially make it a compelling couch-side companion. While there doesn’t appear to be as much in-depth content info as found within the TiVo iPad app, the DirecTV app is customizable and provides a dedicated sports section… with live scores. For maximum functionality, including the virtual remote control and access to remote scheduling, you’ll need a broadband-connected DirecTV Plus HD DVR (models HR20, HR21, HR22, HR23, HR24 and H21, H23, H24).

More details and pics can be found on DirecTV’s site and Engadget has posted the press release. Or just hit the App Store to check it out for yourself.


As we’re about out of runway for an “early 2011” launch and in light of DirecTV’s recent communique possibly suggesting the schedule has slipped again, I’ve been directed to DBStalk for details on the new DirecTV TiVo experience.

Now I can’t vouch for the info from the forums, but there appear to be multiple data points. Which seem to suggest DirecTV TiVo prototype hardware is based on the vintage Thomson HR22-100. And supposedly there it is in the photograph above. (Technicolor was previously disclosed as the manufacturer… and was once known as Thomson.)

As with most engineering initiatives, project timelines slip, slide around. Of course, adding a partner company to the mix adds complexity. In fact, you may want to check out Megazone’s thoughts on potential scope creep and the guilty party. Yet, discussion seems to suggest that the new DirecTV TiVo, as currently implemented, runs the classic TiVo UI and lacks multi-room viewing. Which brings us to timing…

As recently as last month, speculation suggested an April launch. However, the current thought is we’re on for a June or July release. But given the history of this project, originally slated for a 2009 release, there’s not much point in reading these particular tea leaves. It’ll arrive when it arrives. However, if the new DirecTV TiVo has indeed been further delayed, I hope the time is put to good use by applying the Virginized TiVo interface and implementing DirecTV’s multi-room viewing experience.

Updated DirecTV TiVo Timing?

Dave Zatz —  February 22, 2011

Has the highly anticipated (new) DirecTiVo been delayed once again? Last we heard, from a TiVo SVP, the modernized DirecTV DVR was on track for an early 2011 launch… and anecdotally corroborated via beta testing recruitment. Yet a doubtful Twitter inquiry was met with this DirecTV response yesterday:

Details are still being determined, launch maybe in late 2011.

Now this could be the case of a well intentioned but misinformed tweet. Or it could indeed be another delay of the product originally slated for a 2009 release. I’ve got an email out to TiVo seeking clarification.

(via TiVoCommunity)

DISH Network Calls TiVo Stale

Dave Zatz —  January 28, 2011

Over the last several weeks we’re been hit by a large number of comments originating from DISH Network. While we encourage industry participation and greatly appreciate corporate disclosure, this is a clear case of astroturfing – these drive-by comments largely bad mouth the competition while pumping their own product lineup, versus joining the conversation. My friends at GigaOm/NewTeeVee have been similarly hit and seem to feel the same.

Generally speaking, the comments haven’t been very compelling (or coherent). But the most recent contribution is extra special… posted by someone who identified himself as DISH Network employee and originating from DISH Network’s IP range:

TiVo has not made a lot of strides […] since their initial product release.  That’s why I’m glad I am both a customer and employee of DISH Network. DISH is constantly at the forefront of new technologies […]

Now I often come down on TiVo for their slow pace of innovation. But it’s a bit different when the criticism comes from a DISH Network employee… as they’ve been engaged in a protracted patent infringement battle. Which, incidentally, DISH/EchoStar lost. To the tune of $100 million and possibly counting.

So this is the point in the article where I’d typically make some snarky remarks wondering how exactly DISH might have found itself “at the forefront of new technologies” and suggesting TiVo’s been preoccupied with legal proceedings at the expense of innovation. But I’ll leave any further commentary to you in the comments…

First revealed as the Slingbox 700u at CES back in January, the smallest, sleekest Echostar placeshifter is now available to DISH Network customers for a low $99. And it’s the tight integration with DISH DVR hardware that allows the “Sling Adapter” to shed so much bulk… and cable clutter. Whereas an agnostic Slingbox requires video and network connectivity, along with an IR blaster and power adapter, the Sling Adapter requires a single USB cable to facilitate the broadcast of your television content around the home and beyond. However, Sling Adapter access is currently limited to web browsers on Windows or Mac OS X. Versus all the various options (web, OS X or Windows software, mobile clients) available to Slingbox customers. Lastly, the Sling Adapter only brings placeshifting capabilities to ViP 722 and 722k DISH hardware. Which might be OK as literally millions of these units have been deployed and this model DVR is standard for new customers (at no charge).

The initial reviews:

Click to enlarge:

As I don’t typically track investor relations outreach, I’m not quite sure if this is unprecedented or not. But it does seem noteworthy… TiVo has launched a website summarizing their ongoing patent dispute with EchoStar/DISH Network. And, beyond itemizing their progressive court victories to investors, it appears TiVo’s challenging the judicial system to do the right thing (as they see it) and wrap this up once and for all:

As TiVo has argued in its brief to the full court, the case is important to the entire patent system because judges must have the authority to enforce their orders in patent cases. Otherwise, determined infringers will be able to force innovative companies — and the investors, suppliers, customers, and commercial partners who respect and rely on their patents — into an endless game of litigation cat-and-mouse.

We’ve been covering this issue for years, including that time I about fell asleep in the courtroom, and I’m mostly bored at this point — preferring to focus on technology over litigation. Also, early on in my blog career I made the command decision to avoid investments (to the best of my ability) in companies I cover. But we know who reads our blog… and figured you’d appreciate this little nugget.