Archives For Satellite TV

Catching Up With TiVo v DISH

Dave Zatz —  September 9, 2010

We’ve been covering TiVo’s patent dispute with DISH/EchoStar for, literally, years. Heck, I even trekked down to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2007 to catch some argument/testimony.

However, I’ve grown bored of the topic. And, as neither an investor in TiVo nor DISH/Echo, I’ve got no skin in the game. Having said that, the eventual outcome could have a significant impact on the DVR landscape and US patent system (or DISH’s livelihood). So, if you’re in need of a refresher of how we got here and where we may be going, check out IPWatchdog’s summary – pointed out to me by TiVo owner and shareholder Davis Freeberg.

TiVo, Inc held their quarterly earnings call yesterday. As expected, it was mostly more of the same – revenue down with a net loss (~$15m), subscriber count down (~2.4m), but plenty of cash in the bank ($240m). However, TiVo did answer a long standing question I’ve had regarding the upcoming but delayed DirecTV TiVo. Who’s building the new box? And, as it turns out, the latest incarnation of the DirecTiVo will run on Technicolor/Thomson hardware.

Additionally, as previously disclosed, TiVo reinforced that international Virgin and ONO implementations will run on Cisco hardware. On the US MSO front, RCN is obviously deploying actual Premiere hardware but it appears TiVo hasn’t given up on a tru2way solution to offer providers. From CEO Tom Rogers:

two-way that we continue to build toward

Lastly, back to that DirecTV TiVo… While the official line is still a scheduled 2010 deployment, Rogers gave themselves some wiggle room should it slip into 2011:

As to the DIRECTV box that we are developing, it’s something that we hope to be able to push out late this year.

directv-sunday-ticket-to-go

Looks like DirecTV has enhanced their NFL mobile offering with more than just higher resolution streaming and iPad support this season. Sunday Ticket subscribers can optionally add the To-Go tier for $50, but DirecTV has also decoupled television service from online access — allowing anyone to subscribe to NFL streaming. At $350 for the season, it doesn’t come cheap. But they don’t call it Super Fan for nothing.

We can probably and safely assume that iPhone and iPad video out will be disabled, but connecting a computer to the television for a 720p football stream could perform well… when you’re not actually mobile. However, I’m still holding out hope that Cox launches the RedZone channel (via the new NCTC/NFL agreement) to meet my short attention span and fantasy football needs. Whereas one pal just ordered a Slingbox to locate at his brother’s home, ~500 miles away, to get his football fix.

Thanks, skiswm!

Football season is most definitely upon us, as I’ve hit training camp and received my first fantasy league invite.

Outside of the satellites themselves, DirecTV’s most costly investment has got to be their NFL broadcast rights ($700m – $1b/yr!). But it must be paying dividends, as every DTV subscriber I know sticks around for one exactly reason: Sunday Ticket. So, whereas we spend our Sunday afternoons parked at the wing place, many of my friends enjoy every game from the comfort of their own homes.

If memory serves, last year basic mobile streaming access was provided as part of the DirecTV SuperFan package. However, they’re rolling with a new mobile tier dubbed Sunday Ticket To-Go as a $50 add-on in 2010. The service streams live game video to Mac, PC, and various mobile devices – the most notable addition being Apple’s iPad. I can’t imagine catching an entire game on a 3.5″ iPhone screen, but the 10″ iPad makes for a mighty fine mobile television. Also new this year is higher definition streaming, although I haven’t been able to dig up the exact resolution (or bitrate). Additionally, DirecTV is advertising picture-in-picture and being able to display a grid of 4 live streams simultaneously, but I suspect these new features might be limited to computer clients.

As for me, I’m sticking with the wing joint. At least until Cox Communications picks up the RedZone Channel – that’s probably all my short-attention span requires (but yet one more way in which Cox has failed me).

world-cup-mobile

It’s that time of decade… FIFA’s World Cup competition is in full effect. And it’ll be one of the most watched events in human history – given the seemingly universal love of soccer (er, futbol), national pride, and widespread viewing technologies.

Here in the US, ESPN seems to have the broadcast rights locked down. Yet, they’ve got a number of partners to share the love. Above left is the HTC-designed, Qualcomm-powered FLO TV Personal Television ($200) on loan from the fine folks at TSS Radio. (review to come) Above right is a coworker’s Sprint EVO (also HTC-designed), streaming SprintTV, which comes bundled with new data plans. And it turns out that SprintTV is actually powered by MobiTV… who now offer the iPhone app seen below. Subscribe for one month ($10) to catch all the action.

The ESPN 3 site/channel is also streaming games online, for those who have partnered broadband service (Cox, Comcast, FiOS, etc). Odds are high that you have access, yet don’t even realize it. More interesting, Orb has figured out how to scrape those streams from a home PC and relay them to an Android handset or iPhone with their updated server software and app ($10).

worldcup-mobitv-iphone

Beyond the live video, of course, there are all sorts of other World Cup-specific apps with scores, news, and clips designed for multiple platforms – such as Goal.com and ESPN. Plus, Sirius XM is broadcasting audio of all 64 matches.

Funny. TiVo wants to be the Google of television… but so does Google.

What Google did for the Internet, TiVo is now doing for the TV, bringing people a combination of excellent search results and innovative discovery that can’t be found anywhere else. -Tom Rogers, TiVo CEO

At Google’s annual developer conference yesterday, they elaborated on their television intentions – beyond the spring soundbite. As you might expect given Google’s search DNA and the appification of everything, Google TV supports both. And, taking a page from Yahoo’s Widget TV initiative, Google intends to work with a variety of hardware manufacturers to deliver Google TV.

For starters, we know DISH is onboard for some sort of satellite television integration and Sony will provide at least one connected television and Google TV-ed Blu-ray player. Logitech’s doing something too. (Huh, using Google TV as a remote control for TiVo?)  The first devices are expected to hit this fall, at which point I’ll probably have more to say.

While it’s a commendable goal to bring web content to the TV in a manageable way (like a variety of others, say Boxee), the best web video originated on television or in theaters. I don’t need access to thousands of websites serving random content of varying quality. It’s the same reason many of us want Hulu everywhere. We don’t care about “Hulu” per se, but we do care about that large catalog of professionally crafted content. The future of TV is… TV. I’ll let Mari sum it up for me:

Click to enlarge: (via BGR):

I don’t have a lot of details on what will be reheard in the TiVo/DISH/Echo DVR patent infringement saga, as the story is breaking and I’m hopping on a plane in minutes. (I’m also no lawyer.) But I believe this is specific to continued infringement and contempt related to DISH’s workaround, rather than a revisit of the original patent dispute (and TiVo victory). TiVo shares are currently plummeting, down more than 1/3rd. I’ll try to update this item when I land, should additional details present themselves. From Business Week:

TiVo Inc.’s legal victory against Dish Network Corp. and EchoStar Corp. for infringing a patent on digital-video recording services will be reconsidered by an appeals court. The court said it will consider whether the judge erred in not giving Dish a trial to determine if its workaround was still infringing TiVo’s patent.

UPDATE :

TiVo’s remarks…

We are disappointed that we do not yet have finality in this case despite years of litigation but we remain confident that the Federal Circuit’s ruling in our favor will be reaffirmed after all of the judges on the Federal Circuit have had the opportunity to review the merits of this case

DISH/Echo’s remarks…

DISH Network and EchoStar are pleased that the full Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has granted their petition for rehearing en banc. We believe the issues that will be considered by the full court on rehearing will have a profound impact on innovation in the United States for years to come.