Archives For Satellite TV


Seems the blogosphere got itself into a bit of a lather upon learning DISH and Google were collaborating on set-top box functionality, including search and YouTube video. But anyone who follows DISH/EchoStar shouldn’t be entirely surprised… Just check out the picture I shot of DISH’s app store (above) at CES 2009 on their yet-to-be-released VIP 922 DVR. Featuring a Google tile. It’s unclear if the recent “news” represents merely the piloting of an enhanced Google app, or a more significant Android-based set-top experience (as many have concluded). Regardless, the broadcast and broadband lines are quickly blurring. And DISH surely needs to do something dramatic to recoup the hundreds of millings they’ll soon (?) be depositing at the First National Bank of TiVo.

I’ve been covering the TiVo/DISH/EchoStar patent infringement case for years. (With varying degree of interest.) And it looks like we’re that much closer to a conclusion given today’s ruling/affirmation by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:

Appellants (collectively, “EchoStar”) appeal from the district court’s decision finding them in contempt of the court’s permanent injunction order. TiVo Inc. v. Dish Network Corp., 640 F. Supp. 2d 853 (E.D. Tex. 2009). Because we find that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing sanctions against EchoStar, we affirm the finding of contempt.

The Premiere may not have moved the needle, but there’s nothing like the prospect of (large sums of) cold, hard cash to whip the investors into a frenzy:

Yes, TiVo should be receiving (additional) cash from DISH and/or EchoStar. And, yes, it looks like a number of DISH DVRs will be disabled. Davis Freeberg and I are still sifting through the ruling to get a better sense of what this ultimately means and if DISH/Echo has any moves left. I’d also keep an eye on Engadget’s resident legal eagle for a more thorough analysis.

Earlier this week, DirecTV expanded their previously private whole-home DVR viewing pilot into an opt-in open beta. DirecTV’s rendition of multi-room viewing is similar to most – stream recorded content from a HD DVR to any other HD DVR or receiver around the home via a unified or filtered playlist. Additionally, you’ll be able to schedule recordings or delete programming from any receiver. In addition to having received the appropriate software update, you’ll also need to have networked your HD DVRs (models HR20-23) or receivers (models H21-23). In this case, on your own via Ethernet or via a DirecTV-purchased powerline or MoCA solution. Unlike most whole-home DVR solutions, once launched from beta, DirecTV will charge for this functionality. Something unseen since the days long ago that TiVo sold a Home Media Option. For more details, including hands-on experiences, check out DBSTalk. In addition to an active, evolving thread, they’ve also put together a PDF (mirrored below) covering the multi-room service with pics.

It’ll be interesting to see if the upcoming DirecTV TiVo solution will support multi-room viewing at launch. (Or at all.) Related, I’d like TiVo to launch a more modern, sophisticated MRV within their retail product line to the replace simplistic show copying (often prohibited by one’s cable provider).

(via Multimedia-PCs)


So much for getting to bed at a reasonable hour… as EchoStar just hit us with four Sling-related announcements. As I promised last week. Unfortunately, none of these Slingbox devices are headed to retail and will be exclusively offered via cable or satellite provider. Which, in the near term, means solely DISH Network.

The Sling Monitor 150 (above) and the Sling Receiver 300 (below center) represent the evolution of the SlingCatcher concept, if not platform – providing a means to remotely display streamed content from a Slingbox-esque device, such as the upcoming SlingLoaded 922 DVR. The Slingbox 700u (bottom left) looks to be a USB accessory to provide non-SlingLoaded DISH/Echo STBs with placeshifting capabilities. Lastly, we’ve got the sexy looking WiFi & IR Sling Touch Control remote designed to interface with SlingLoaded DVRs, plus your other A/V accessories, and display an EPG. Collectively, DISH Network is branding their placeshifting product line and functionality as TV Everywhere. (Where have we heard that phrase before?)

I’ll be swinging by EchoStar’s booth Thursday AM to get a firsthand look at the new Sling gear and dig a bit deeper into their distribution strategy. Because as it stands, it seems to me that they just announced their intentions to abandon direct-to-consumer retail sales. (When is Palm’s press conference? Maybe they’ll pleasantly surprise me with a webOS SlingPlayer client.)

Click to enlarge:

Beyond the WiFi-only iPhone Slingbox client ($30), neutered by Apple and AT&T, it’s been a very quiet year for Sling. No new retail products. Insignificant firmware and software updates to existing products. And fire sale SlingCatcher pricing. Combined with near radio silence, I figured EchoStar has been winding down the Sling line. However, all is not lost, as I received a CES invite earlier today that promises:

You’ll experience an up close view of Sling’s new placeshifting products including WiFi television, ultra-slim Slingboxes, and a next-generation touch screen device.

Of course, a WiFi television was shown at CES last year (pic above). Where it was pitched as a DISH Network accessory for Echostar’s yet-to-be-released “SlingLoaded” VIP 922 Echostar DVR. If I had to guess, that touchscreen device similarly accessorizes the 922 — as a Sonos-esque remote controller. I’m not entirely opposed to a slimmed-down Slingbox, but noticeably absent from this pitch is reference to a next generation Catcher… that lives up to its billing. Stay tuned, as I intend to find out more (with pics) next week in Vegas.


As TiVo does, they fire off feel-good news (for investors) along most quarterly earnings calls – to possibly soften the blow of continued subscriber defections. Today, they’ve announced a deal in which Google will be mining our TiVo commercial viewing (er, skipping) behavior to enhance their television advertising initiative. Yawn. Much more interesting, via a release late to the wire, is news that TiVo will be re-entering the UK television market in a big way, by partnering with Virgin:

TiVo will become the exclusive provider of middleware and user interface software for Virgin Media’s next generation set top boxes. Virgin Media will become the exclusive distributor of TiVo services and technology in the United Kingdom. Virgin Media currently anticipates its first TiVo co-branded product in 2010.

In other partner news from the call… The fabled, new DirecTV TiVo hardware will indeed launch next year. And, in my opinion, surely juice TiVo’s subscribers numbers. Although no specific timeline has been provided. The Comcast and Cox TiVo initiatives continue to sputter along. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if either, or both, cable providers pull the plug at some point.

Lastly, something perhaps previously alluded to by a TiVo employee on Twitter and something I’ve been scouring the FCC records for, “a new keyboard remote control” is under development. Which could be related to the re-upping and expansion in 2009 of their 2005 RFID remote patent application for personalized viewing experiences. But we remain in the dark regarding the mysterous wireless access point.


Looks like DISH Network is next in line with an app store offering, following in the footsteps of rival DirecTV. EchoStar’s repeatedly delayed Slingbox-loaded 922s DVR, now slated for delivery “early next year,” will provide access to a variety of home grown and third party apps. The SDK and API has already been made available to developers, although DISH hasn’t yet committed to a store launch date. And, as you’d expect, they’ll act as gatekeepers according to Light Reading:

“We’re the ones to make sure the apps past muster, that they don’t use too much of the resources in the box, for example,” says Jeffrey Hale, an EchoStar national account manager.

Thanks, Mike!

My pal Tim has been mucking about in the newish DirecTV widget platform and, based on his video above, isn’t all that impressed. (Which may be partially attributed to DirecTV’s house brand of DVR which doesn’t function as smoothly his former DirecTiVo models. He’s just a little bitter.) While DirecTV’s “App Store” (Flickr, Twitter, weather, etc) seems too slow in his home to be usable, I prefer this on-box Internet app overlay experimentation to the connected television trend –  folks will purchase/upgrade their sets with much less frequency.